Following the cancellation of 2003’s animated Teen Titans series, Robin and co have remained largely absent from the current pop-culture zeitgeist. Despite 2013’s Teen Titans Go, and two animated films, DC’s recent attempts to reassert the Titans legendary pop-culture status have failed to truly connect with the audience and garner the same level of fan fervor or critical acclaim. As such, when the DC Universe streaming service first announced Titans as its flagship series, DC had multiple generations of Comic Book fans elated at the prospect of finally seeing such a beloved group of characters make their spectacular return to the public conscious. However, as the weeks have gone on, DC have failed to truly live up to the promise of reaffirming the dysfunctional band of superpowered teenagers/former sidekicks’ iconic legacy. As of this moment, DC have merely produced an increasingly haphazard and scattershot interpretation of the fan-favorite superhero team.
A large portion of responsibility for DC Universe’s failure to reassert the Titans esteemed status, is due to their tendency to use the Titans series as a showcase for other DC properties and potential spinoff shows. As of right now, the audience is four episodes deep into this interpretation of the Titans and only half of the episodes we have been presented with actually focus on the main cast. As a result, the main cast are starting to feel guest stars on their own show. This is due to the writer’s choice to award the supporting cast/side characters significantly more screen time than main characters. A trend, which remains at the forefront of episode four. For the majority of episode four, the introduction of the Doom Patrol takes up a large amount of the episode’s narrative space. This in turn relegates the main cast to supporting characters for a large portion of the episode. Whilst Rachel continues to receive a significant amount of screen time, for the most part, Rachel exists within the context of this episode as a plot device through which the writers are able to introduce the Doom Patrol and provide the audience with the necessary exposition to famliarse the audience with the new characters.
DC Universe’s propensity for using Titans as testing ground/proof of concept for potential spinoff of series’, has resulted in two principle problems, which have been detrimental to the shows overall development. The first of which being the audience’s lack of familiarity with the main characters. Due to the lack of time spent on the main characters, the audience is yet to witness the beginnings of any real character development or the evolution of the main characters interpersonal relationships. Whilst the writers have done a decent job of introducing each character’s internal struggle, the show is yet to do anything meaningful with the information which we’ve been presented with. As such, the main characters feel like they’re coasting on audiences preexisting knowledge of their Comic Book counterparts. Further compounding this issue, is the characters lack of familiarity with one another. Outside of the pseudo familial relationship between Dick and Rachel, the show has failed to develop the relationships between the cast as a whole. Whilst the episode three laid the groundwork for a meaningful relationship between Kory and Rachel, that momentum is cut short by the decision to separate the two characters for the majority of this episode.
Furthermore, Garfield has spent next to no screen time with any of the main cast other than Rachel. As such the show continues to progress at a rather sluggish pace. This leads me to the second issue hindering the show from truly actualizing its potential. The shows haphazard pace has resulted in a resounding lack of plot progression. After four episodes, the series is yet to present the audience with real moment which significantly drives the plot forward, nor have the writers shed much light on the first seasons main villain or narrative struggle. Instead of presenting viewers with any tangible evidence concerning this seasons main conflict, the writers have left audiences with vague allusions to the Church of Blood/arrival of Trigon and inconsequential action sequences.
Whilst this episode continues a number of issues which have plagued season 1 of Titans, episode four is not entirely without its merits. This episode of Titans finally see’s Garfield receive proper introduction to the show. Although Garfield operates within this episode in a similar capacity to Rachel, the character benefits from his status as relatively new character. As such, the first portion of the episode dedicates itself to introducing and establishing Garfield’s light-hearted/comedic nature, whilst simultaneously presenting Garfield as a fully fleshed out character who is able to transcend simple comic-relief. Through a combination of flashbacks and various character interactions, Ryan Potter is able deliver an incredibly heartfelt and charming performance. Thus, by the end of the episode, Ryan Potter is able to demonstrate his emotional range and convincingly assuage any fears that Garfield would be relegated to mere comic relief. Garfield’s introduction is also significant as it finally unites the main characters and completes the team. Thus, the show can finally begin to focus on establishing the team dynamics and developing the main character’s relationships with one another.