The Boys, seasons 1 & 2 collection (blu-ray TV series review).

I have to confess that I haven’t read Gareth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson’s The Boys’ comic books/graphic novels yet, although I know something about the concept, although not the contrast between the two mediums. For a TV series, anything with actor Karl Urban in as to be worth a look.

This reality has super-heroes are run by the media Voight Management Company, who are aware of their net worth and made a franchise of their celebrity and merchandise. There’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s really a spoiler. If anything, we’re thrown in when these superheroes exist rather than seeing their coming. When one of the seven members retires, they recruit Starlight (actor Erin Moriarty), a novice superhuman who finds the Deep (actor Chace Crawford), whom she admired, is a bit of a shit and essentially has an enforced rape at their office.

Meanwhile, Hugie Campbell (actor Jack Quaid) sees his girlfriend disintegrate in front of him as hero A-Train (actor Jessie T. Usher) runs through her in pursuit of a felon. Later, a lawyer sees him prepared to hand over $40,000 for a disclaimer, which he doesn’t want to do. Campbell is approached by Billy Butcher (actor Karl Urban), posing as an FBI agent to do so to get into their offices to leave a bug. Reluctant at first, Campbell does so but is unaware that the invisible Transparency (actor Alex Hassell) is watching and comes after him later, but is seemingly killed by Butcher and Campbell.

Then it becomes obvious it becomes difficult to kill someone with diamond-hard skin who can become invisible. Not going to go too spoilery here but considering that Transparency can drink water, why no one thought of poison although the way they finally sorted it was probably regarded as more spectacular, even if the skin would have contained the debris? There’s also the matter of Compound B that A-Train uses to enhance his own abilities, but to the detriment of his body. This is also what gave them their powers. The details of which are a spoiler.

Much of the developing episodes follow Butcher bringing in his original team of Frenchie (actor Tomer Capone) and the even more oddly named Mother’s Milk (actor Laz Alonso) who are ‘The Boys’, although the name is only used in the last episode of season one. The Seven are also referred to as ‘The Supes’, even if it sounds like ‘the Suits’. Then again, no one there seems to think Butcher’s accent is Urban’s native Australian and thinks he’s British.

Understanding the reality is a lot easier than remembering all the names, not helped at many of them aren’t given out. Of the known names, I knew actor Antony Starr from the ‘Banshee’ TV series, but as Homelander, he’s barely recognisable, clean-shaven, and blonde.

The Vought Management Company, led by supervisor Madelyn Stillwell (actress Elisabeth Shue), runs the Seven’s commercial activities and just applies typical American business acumen to looking after the product they are selling. Even so, with the novice Sunlight, who is reminded she needs a sexier costume or be kicked out, it’s a sharp reminder as to just who is really in charge.

How much to say is definitely a spoiler, and every episode brings out some surprises. The bad language is really rife and probably reflects the comic book but you should keep it away from young sprogs, especially as it depicts super-heroes as not that super-heroic deconstructions when it comes to ethics and, in that respect, makes the Watchmen look goody-two-shoes in comparison. However, there are two more seasons and season two is in the same box set.

There is a quarter of an hour of deleted scenes. Considering all the special effects were completed, it suggests it was a time issue that they were sliced. If you watch them as a bunch, it’s a shame that there isn’t an episode reference between them to put them in context. The blooper reel runs for 5 minutes. I think Karl Urban caught on to the problem of how you cut a scene when foul language is prevalent and you add more swear words. Antony Starr’s goofing at least shows how he balances Homelander’s nasty nature.

Season 2 is supposed to start straight after Season 1, although this raises some interesting questions about what happened to Billy Butcher which isn’t addressed, let alone how the team knows how to find each other or their base isn’t being compromised when you consider they roam New York and no one’s given them away.

So much is a spoiler, but it’s interesting noting that Homelander has a childlike emotional make-up coupled with psychopathic tendencies, sorting out a problem, regardless of the consequences. With great power, there’s also a need for greater sensibility. An incredibly scary performance by actor Antony Starr.

It’s almost a cliché where protagonists, even antagonists have a rethink of their values. In the fifth episode, much of the focus is on Butcher thinking he’s had enough and misdirects from Homelander, who is doing it differently when it comes to a mistake he made in public, killing not only a super-villain but a bystander behind him and not waiting for advice from Vought as to handle the situation. Then again, he’s probably right. He’s the most powerful being on Earth and can do what he likes, although he acts with restraint rather than doing what he would like to do to them, which would surely have lost him popularity points forever.

How much more to say? You can see metaphors here for many things American. The ability to make anyone superhuman has shades of a lack of gun control, a religion acting like a business should remind you of one based on a fiction by its founder. There are even elements of ‘Wild Cards’ where secret manipulative superhumans are working behind the scenes. Alliances are forged and changed all the time. The hints of the uberman nazi influence shouldn’t be that surprising either.

More extras of deleted scenes and blooper files, showing they can dance. The 5-minute Billy Butcher tale shows what happened after Homelander drops his unconscious body back in a town.

Did I like the series? I already ordered season 3 while watching the first season speaks for itself and they were already selling out. We see the nasty side of giving super-beings too much latitude with no control over them. I should point out that Homelander has no kryptonite and is unstoppable physically but only through his ego and wants to be liked but, boy, is he short-tempered and homicidal.

He makes Superman look like a restrained alien in comparison. The Seven is based on the Justice League stereotypes and has more depth. I would question how lucky the Boys are to survive, although at least they have a superhuman on board with the dumb Kimiko Miyashiro (actress Karen Fukuhara) on their side and Starlight when needed. The public face of government is the exact opposite of the Boys, although they do support them. It answers the old question of who watches the watchmen, by having a team that does although you have to question who watches them.

I like the soundtrack although it hasn’t got a CD release. In fact, outside of the usual tee-shirts and mugs, there is very little related merchandise, not even a book of the TV series. Considering how the blu-ray/DVDs are selling out, some publisher has missed an opportunity here.

Anything I didn’t like? I’m less keen on the blu-ray menu scheme showing all the episodes but only three or two to a disc.

GF Willmetts

November 2022

(pub: Sony, 2022. 6 DVDs 495 minutes. Season 1: 8 * 60 minute episodes. Season 2: 8 * approximately, give or take 10 minutes 60 minute episodes with extras for each season. Price: I pulled my copy for £34.00 (UK) but it looks like stock is running down, even more so for season 3. ASIN: 58174)

cast: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Jessie T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capone, Karen Fukuhara, Aya Cash and many more.

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