"What is your name?" Jesus asked.
"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." (Mark 5:9)
I hope you'll forgive me for starting this review by citing this (rather obvious) excerpt from the bible, but I just couldn't resist. Apart from these opening lines, I'll try to avoid any spoilers for the show, so you won't read anything specific about the storyline here. As with all my reviews, this is supposed to give you an overall impression of the show without giving away any details regarding the plot.
For those among you who, like me, love some of the slightly weirder superheroes out there (especially of the mutant kind and preferably in the X-Men universe) but feel most of those guys' screen outings so far were either constricted by the 2-hour format or held back by the need to appeal to mainstream audiences, I'm happy to report there is finally a full length TV-show that dares to fully embrace the craziness of its source material without taking any prisoners. The show's name is 'Legion' (and I'm already pretty sure its fans will be many), and compared to its central character David Haller, even Deadpool looks almost sane.
Following the storyline may seem a little difficult (at least at the beginning) for 'Legion' plunges us head first into the confused mind of its hero, and the narrative is - deliberately - often just as fractured as David Haller's personality. Right from the start this show makes it very clear how committed it is to convey its protagonist's unstable state of mind - and boy does it succeed: through David's eyes we experience an often terrifying (albeit colorful) world where we can never be sure what's real and what's imagined; nor can we get a grasp on where we are, when we are, or even WHO we are.
But this trip down the rabbit hole is well worth taking (even if it does turn into a horror trip at times) for it's a psychedelic ride that has been designed by very talented people. Creator Noah Hawley, who has already given us the excellent show 'Fargo', obviously knows what he's doing, and watching the show feels like listening to a perfectly composed concept album from a seventies rock band (btw, watch out for a cool Pink Floyd reference). The cast is terrific (especially Dan Stevens as David Haller); the visuals and the production design are a wonderfully weird mix of retro and modern elements which fits David's distorted perception of time and reality like a glove, and the mystery surrounding David as he desperately tries to cut through the haze and figure out what's going on will keep you glued to the screen throughout.
Insanity is a tricky subject to tackle, and the possible pitfalls are many; present it with too much levity and you risk the accusation that you're making fun of people with a terrible illness - yet if you portray it as tragic and bleak as it often is (I am saying that as someone who has a family member who suffers from schizophrenia) you will lose your audience. So to find the right tone here was not an easy thing to do, but I believe the show - just as Marvel did in the comic books - does an outstanding job at never coming across disrespectful while still offering fantastic entertainment.
So to sum up my first impression: 'Legion' represents a refreshingly different side of Marvel (compared to the films and shows based on Marvel Comics' more "grounded" creations that we've seen so far) and by fully embracing the source material's "weirdness" the show is a testament to just how insanely (in the true sense of the word) inventive and versatile Stan Lee and his band of brothers were/are. This show is wilder, more surreal and generally much, much crazier than your average superhero story and there are moments where you feel reminded of the works of David Fincher, Charlie Kaufman or even David Lynch. I'd highly recommend it especially to adult comic book fans and those among you who don't demand everything be explained within the first episode. Personally, I feel this is Marvel at its best and most complex: 9 stars out of 10.
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-Known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/