What I’m Watching: Black Lightning

By DRWHO42

Looking for another great hero series to add to your weekly viewing list? Look no farther than The CW’s latest series, Black Lightning, premiering Tuesday, January 16th at 9PM. This series is an adaption of the comic and is brought to the screen by Salim & Mara Brock Akil along with ‘super producer’ Greg Berlanti.

The series, which is set in New Orleans, centers on Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) who appears from the start to be a normal working father. He is the principal of a school and has two daughters. At the same time, he is also wrestling with a secret: he is gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity. He has used these powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. He has made a promise to retire from being a superhero to focus on his family, but with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, and those he cares about in the crosshairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Pierce makes the decision that Black Lightning must return to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.

The cast is an impressive one with:     
Cress Williams – Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning
Christine Adams – Lynn Pierce
China Anne McClain – Jennifer Pierce
Nafessa Williams – Anissa Pierce
James Remar – Peter Gambi
Gregg Henry – Martin Proctor

When this series was announced I was not only excited but I also found the timing to be perfect considering the current slate of superhero television series on television and streaming platforms. The timing is also right considering the recent shift in superhero storytelling to feature characters of different ethnicities in lead roles. With the lead characters being African American, Black Lightning presents a huge opportunity to attract a wider audience while appealing to the demographic which typically watch superhero series regularly. The extra appeal for this series is that it is shot in the city of Atlanta, Georgia (sorry, Vancouver). With that said, the scenery and the atmosphere will certainly be different, which will allow this series to stand out from other superhero programs.  

I had the opportunity to sit down with the cast of Black Lightning during San Diego Comic Con and gained some insight on what to expect this season.

Cress Williams described playing Black Lightning as a dream come true. When I asked him about adjusting to the stunts, he credited the stunt team on the series and has formed a good friendship with his stunt double. Williams said that there is a degree of realism within Jefferson, having to recover from his injuries from time to time and having to deal with reaction from his family as they come to terms with his return from retirement.

Christine Adams described her character, Lynn Pierce, as a “good counter” to the heroic side of the series since she does not have superpowers herself. When I asked her about missing out on the action she responded that she was okay with not being involved on that side of the series and joking suggested that I ask again in a year and that she may have a different response at that time.  

When asked about the character of Jennifer Pierce, China Anne McClain explained to us that  her character will be a very complicated teenager from the start of the series. She went on further to state that there is an interesting arc for Jennifer as the series progresses.  McClain describes her involvement in the series as amazing, while at the same time an honor. When I asked Chyna about the drama aspect of the series, she described Black Lightning as being different from her past work in Tyler Perry movies and her recent work on Descendants 2. She loves dramatic acting because, “it gets down to the core of acting and feeling emotions.”  

Nafessa Williams described her experience as “being in heaven” and she is happy to be part of the first black superhero family on network TV.

During my interviews with the cast, the term ‘family’ came up several times, which reinforced that the series focuses on the familial dynamic within the Pierce family and hopefully will resonate with viewers on a broader scale.   

Lastly, we come to the topic of crossovers with DC hero universe which has been masterfully architected on The CW. I know there is a lot of buzz and hope for a crossover event for Black Lightning as part of the Arrowverse, however, I personally think that this would be better suited for Season 2 or later, after this series establishes its own identity and fanbase.

I am certainly looking forward to watching this series when it premieres on January 16. Do you plan on watching Black Lighting? Click here to join the conversation on the FoCC forum.  

DRWHO42

Kevin aka "DRWHO42" watches a lot of TV and avoids spoilers like the plague. He is an avid Whovian, Trekker, fanboy, gamer, traveler, planner, self-professed gym rat, and Starbucks espresso loyalist. When not plotting out his schedule for the next tent-pole movie or watching his favorite shows he is on the hunt for pop-culture TV & Movie media news. More importantly he is a frequent attendee of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC). Follow him on Twitter @kevinDW42 @FoCCBlog