After reviewing the first episode of this new Marvel comedy show on the Disney+ channel, I was encouraged to continue my own trenchant analysis of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law by watching episodes 2 and 3. Episode 2 turned out to be of interest for an unexpected reason; it wasn’t just a dollar short, it was so short it was barely worth reviewing, so I had to wait to add in the action from the 30 minute episode 3 to have anything to say.
Yup, episode 2 of She-Hulk clocked in with barely twenty minutes of action once you’ve removed the opening and closing credits, idents and other ephemera. That’s shorter than an old without-the-ads tv sitcom with the ads removed. Sure, it’s the modern way to have the length of an episode defined by the content of the programme, and that’s probably for the best; no longer do things have to be slotted into specific time-slots. But twenty minutes doesn’t work at all for a weekly series, it’s like reading a book by flashes of lightning. And while in the tv writing industry, it’s generally accepted that episode two is the one that’s really got to hook your audience is, there’s not much sign of that. Jessica Walters (Tatiana Maslany) loses her job, then gets a new one with a new client; The Abomination, played by Tim Roth. Walters goes for a meeting with Emil Blonsky aka The Abomination in some kind of secure facility, then gets some advice about taking on this case from her brother Bruce (Mark Ruffalo)
And that’s it, roll credits, remember not to leave your handbag from the floor on the way out, that’s all we got, just keep your subscription money coming in please. Given that episode one was all tedious backstory, there’s still no signs at all what this show is actually going to be like, what’s the story about, what’s the point? And lack of engagement means nit-picking; Walters complains that he new bosses only want a ‘she-hulk’ on the payroll for show, but what does that mean? A ‘she-hulk’ isn’t a thing that has to be hired as a tokenistic thing in this universe, is it?
Meanwhile, a trip to the Abomination’s high-security compound brings out, sigh, references to The Silence of the Lambs; how of the moment for 2022! Whether the characters in the Marvel Universe should use such pop-culture references or not, it’s lazy beyond belief to sell a scene by referring to a movie that came out 30 years ago. In episode three (the People Vs Emil Blonsky), there’s a tedious new sub-plot about one of She-Hulk’s colleagues dating pop-star Megan Thee Stallion, who turns out to be a ‘shape-shifting light-elf from New Asgard’, while She-Hulk holds a successful parole meeting for the Abomination with the help of Dr Strange’s sidekick Wong (Benedict Wong). The personable Maslany still promises that she might come good is the drama ever shows up, but if a streamer is going to be so pointedly parsimonious with new product as this, it’s hardly a surprise that paying customers are going to be green with anger.