Written by Caballero Oscuro
I’m a Witchblade comic book fan. Not just a casual reader, oh no. I’ve literally been on board since day one, collecting and reading each and every issue upon release, as well as most of its crossovers with other titles. I was devastated when original artist Michael Turner passed away recently. I sometimes find myself wondering what original writer Christina Z is up to nowadays. Yup, I’m a fan. Sure, it’s a guilty pleasure, one that’s always been certain to draw jeers from even the most mundane of DC/Marvel superhero fans, but something has kept me coming back every month for well over a decade now. That something is Sara Pezzini.
A gorgeous, tough-as-nails NYPD homicide detective, Pezzini finds herself chosen to be the bearer of a mystical artifact that grants her unimaginable powers. However, the Witchblade shares an uneasy alliance with Pezzini, frequently acting on its own accord and stymieing her continued attempts to control its power. No, it doesn’t have conversations with her or step out on its own when she’s not around, it’s more like a mood ring that frequently has its own moods. While the Witchblade is a fascinating instrument, Pezzini is the star and a wholly interesting character on her own merits. It’s this character strength that allowed for a believable and satisfying move to a TV series format that relied much more on the drama than the special effects.
In the Witchblade TV series, gorgeous, tough-as-nails Yancy Butler fully embodied the Pezzini role, passing for a wholly believable detective while concurrently becoming a shaky neophyte learning the extent of the Witchblade’s powers. Seemingly due to budget concerns, the show tended to focus on the crime procedural aspects of Pezzini’s life rather than the Witchblade’s powers, but a fair balance was struck between the two. Also, after a fairly faithful pilot, the show largely took its own path rather than following the comic book’s blueprint, borrowing the major characters but developing its own villains and stories. As such, some devout fans of the book may cry foul, but when viewed as a series “inspired by” the source rather than a slavish translation, it’s clear that it holds up well on its own.
My fandom didn’t stretch to this series during its broadcast run, primarily because of my knowledge that it took liberties with the source and my fear that it was a cheap, ill-conceived knockoff. The arrival of the DVDs finally allowed me to catch up on what I missed, and I found a riveting and in-depth look at Sara Pezzini in a little different context than expected, but a completely enjoyable one nonetheless. Even over five years after going off the air, the show holds up admirably well and offers its own self-contained little universe that requires no previous knowledge of the comic book, just a thirst for satisfying crime drama with a healthy dose of supernatural shenanigans. In the end, it all comes down to Sara Pezzini, and Butler’s masterful interpretation of the complex character makes the series a rewarding viewing experience.
The new DVD box set collects all 24 original episodes (the original TV movie plus seasons 1 and 2) in a deluxe seven-disc edition with a decent assortment of bonus materials including the original casting sessions, a couple of featurettes, and “Gabriel’s Philosophical Insights” on a handful of episodes. Regrettably, it appears that they didn’t pony up for the music rights to songs originally used during its broadcast run, but the “all new soundtrack selected by the executive producer” fills the gaps nicely.