Saturday, June 6, 2015

Capes and Capability

In recent weeks the roster of TV superheroes availabe to see here in NZ has shifted. We still have Marvel's Agents of SHIELD on Thursday nights, and Daredevil is accessible to those with a Netflix account. but it's fair to say that terrestrially at least, things have quietened down for the most part. Arrow closed off a reputedly acklustre third season with more pillaging of the Caped Crusader's book of enemies and plotlines (still, if you're going to steal...), while Gotham brought its first year to a bloody close and maybe a reduction in the castlist. The biggest finale for me, though, was Flash's.

Saviour of the universe! In my house at least.
This series started with not a lot and just grew and grew. The Flash comes across to me as a second-tier DC superhero - as any of the roster are behind the Big Three of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Yet with a carefully-put together season of mainly one-off metahuman-of-the-week stories, slowly building towards recreating the comic strip's Rogue's Gallery, teasing the identity of the mysterious benefactor Harrison Wells, seeding the season with peripheral allies (Firestorm mainly, but let's not miss out those fun Arrow and Atom crossovers) before ending with a genuinely moving and breathtaking finale. You sit there in wonder that what you're viewing is a television budget show, with the requisite rules and limitations of storyline, narrative and location, and then an item of headware pops through a time-space vortex. This is a series that got my derisive wife invested on the strength of a seemingly peripheral man-child support cast member (Cisco Ramon take a bow!) brought in Mark Hamill mid-season, and then a pretty convincing CG gorilla before the curtain went down. I genuinely can't wait for the next run. It looks like anything could be possible right now with this show.

I never got into Arrow, and increasingly Gotham became a grim watch. The future Batman references were a minor addition in the end - I actually took to this series as a procedural with two great characters in Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock easily, and the lingering complaint that it's not speeding up towards the obvious finish line seem silly to me. With two promotions among the support cast to core cast for next season it looks like not much will change. I hope for the best.

Also hoping for the best: Legends of Tomorrow, which looks rather crazy and as camp as Christmas on the strength of the trailer, Wentworth Miller's ham-tastic Captain Cold and Arthur Darvill sporting a Tenth Doctor wardrobe and not entirely convincing anyone that he's taking his new casting as a time traveller entirely seriously either. I'll stay for Atom shrinking, Dr Martin Stein, Firestorm flying, Hawkgirl in costume and the occasional Flash appearances. I guess I'm in, then.
Proving not all Kryptonians are grim-faced these days

Also from the DC stable and Flash Producer Greg Berlanti is Supergirl, the pilot of which I saw accidntally thinking I was watching the epic-length trailer (sort of). So far it looks fine to me, though nothing astonishing. Comparisons to early Flash are perhaps apposite, so maybe the best is yet to come, and I do think CBS got the lead casting bang on. It hoves very close to established Superman mythology and tropes once more, and I can't decide whether this is a sensible move for a pilot or not; and of course I can't know whether nods to Kara Danvers' famous cousin in Metropolis will be a staple of every episode to come. Unfortunately, Supergirl has a large hill to climb whichever way you look at it - a legacy series based on a succesful movie franchise, a female-centric superhero vehicle, or a newcomer to a busy genre. I wish it well, because I'd love to see something like this do well, especially without the questionable 'support' of a male-centric and over-entitled fanbase.

But here I go, off on one again about comics fans. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your assessment on Flash and Supergirl. They've been brilliant. The grim Gotham and the soap operatics of Arrow have turned me off, though. There's only so much "grit" I can take before I start to go doolally, so the lighter approach by The Flash is a relief.