If you’ve been keeping up with DC TV shows going back at least as far as Smallville, then you’ve likely heard the phrase “freak of the week” at some point. Even before the Superman prequel series brought in a slew of villains from the comics, it became known for featuring a different baddie who came into powers via Kryptonite exposure with each passing episode.
To this day, the genre hasn’t strayed from that formula, with The Flash going to the well so very often that it must now rely on whatever Z-list antagonist it can get its hands on. Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, meanwhile, have mostly gone in a more serialized route, instead relying on overarching, recurring villains more than in previous years.
Surprisingly, the producers of Black Lightning decided not to play it safe during the show’s rookie year by tackling social issues and allowing the conflict with gangsters such as Tobias Whale and La-La to unfold over the course of 13 phenomenal episodes.
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When having the chance to speak with lead actor Cress Williams last weekend at Motor City Comic Con, I learned that he, too, agrees going in a more serialized direction affords the series much creative freedom:
“Personally, I think when you do a villain of the week, then you have some episodes that feel a little fluffy. They feel like they’re just biding their time. We do less episodes because you can’t really maintain that for 22, but at the same time, every one is concentrated and every one means something, every one moves the plot along. I love to watch it and I love to do it.”
Being someone who’s caught up, I have to agree with Williams in saying there’s no wasted energy when it comes to Black Lightning because the show never stops moving or keeping your interest. If you require proof, then be sure to check out season 1 when it arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this June, and to tune in for season 2 on Tuesday nights this fall on The CW.