The first episode of the DC UNIVERSE streaming service’s inaugural original series is live and it is definitely something… 

It’s tough to believe that this show is from the same guy who runs the ARROWVERSE on the CW. While ARROW can be dark at times, the first episode of TITANS took the grittiest of Star City’s titular hero and amplified it beyond belief. For a show featuring comic book characters that are generally considered to be on the lighter side (with the exception of Raven), our first look at the members of the team was downright depressing. 

The premiere is an origin tale, beginning the process of bringing our heroes together. It doesn’t happen all at once, and (SPOILER) the team certainly isn’t formed by the end of the first episode, but we meet our key players. Our lead is Robin, Batman’s former sidekick, who has moved from Gotham City to Detroit to find his path away from the Shadow of the Bat. In his alter ego of Dick Grayson, he’s now a cop with a penchant for helping kids in bad situations, which is how he meets Rachel Roth. 

Rachel is a runaway, whose mother was murdered in Traverse City… which is apparently an actual place in Michigan. I thought they would use some more DC Comics locations other than the Gotham City mention, but maybe those come later. Rachel has some stuff going on, an evil version of herself that yells at her to do bad stuff through mirrors, or warns her of people’s bad intentions. The show starts out with the future Raven having a dream of the circus and the night when the Flying Graysons were killed, so when Det. Dick Grayson finds her in Detroit, he’s the only one she seems comfortable opening up to.

Not the worst strategy, since everyone else seems to want to harm her in some way, including her future teammate Starfire. We meet Kory Anders and begin to learn about her as she does, after she wakes up from a car crash in Vienna with a bit of a memory lapse. She also ends up torching a mob boss named Konstantin Kovar, who tries to shoot her. There’s a lot of death in this episode, with a lot of nameless extras getting either killed or maimed by the costumed heroes. 

I really don’t understand the need to go so dark with these characters, and the only reason to do it that makes sense goes back to the origins of the TITANS series. It was at first going to be a series on TNT, and the show feels like a bad TNT drama. I felt no affinity for any of the characters. Everyone seemed to be unlikable and stand-offish, and only Raven seemed even a little recognizable as her comic book counterpart. 

I’m intrigued by some of the things that have been announced as being featured in future episodes, but the series premiere didn’t leave me with much hope.