Catching up! Prodigy, Superman and The Flash
Do you know, I was just complaining last week about this weird aversion modern Trek has to uniforms. In Picard we don’t get them much at all, and even in Discovery they seem to be out of uniform as often as they’re in. And then there’s the strange approach that Secret Hideout (the company that currently produces Star Trek for Paramount) has taken… Different uniforms for different series. Not necessarily for different ships – the Enterprise in Discovery has red yellow and blue uniforms where is Discovery was still wearing thier plain blue… And so was Starfleet command. But then Lower Decks has their unique uniforms that don’t match what we see on the Titan or in flashbacks. It’s all strange and quite frankly, offputting to me. Still, I’ve been wondering what exactly the uniforms would look like in Prodigy. When all the characters showed up and pretty much just wore street clothes through the entire thing, I was a little disappointed. At least Jayneway looked familiar. But I do recall making that comment about wanting to see more uniforms.
I should’ve kept my mouth shut.
I’m not sure how Secret Hideout’s Star Trek has sunk from Discovery, which in its first season, had some of the best looking uniforms I’ve ever seen (I really do like those blue and gold costumes, with different trim denoting rank just as much as the pips on the arrowhead insignia). I even like how they translated that into classic series uniforms for the Enterprise crew. But since then, everything is really gone wonky. The uniforms in Star Trek Picard are the worst sort of fanfiction, and Discovery has turned their uniforms basically into fluffy pajamas. In fact, so has Prodigy. Everything’s pajamas.
They’re weird. Asymmetrical with a very high waist extending well into the abdomen. The white and gray color scheme is actually a bit reminiscent of the motion picture, which is not a story you want to be evoking. You’re still trying to go with the shoulder motif, but it feels more like those sloppy gray jumpsuits that we would see extras wearing anytime the next generation crew beam down to a science lab on any given episode of the week. I’m not digging them, and they feel uninspired to me. There’s some talk that they could change again though – that these are kind of “experimental” uniforms 9and comm badges too) because it’s an experimental ship. Dan and Kevin Hageman explained in an interview with Inverse;
“Since the USS Protostar is an experimental starship, we felt it gave us some freedom to create our own uniform design, as long as it fit alongside the uniforms of this era. We, [executive producer] Ben Hibon, and our design team spent a lot of time discussing the badge and uniforms. We had to balance the style of our series, while also recognizing these kids aren’t actually anywhere close to being Starfleet Officers, which is why we went for a stripped-down design.”
On the other hand, the series itself continues to be good. We’re heading back for a showdown with the big bad, and they left us on a cliffhanger… Predictably. I can’t complain though, the twists keep coming and in an earnest way this genuinely feels like Star Trek. It outweighs the bad uniforms. If I have one complaint, it’s a moment where the purple captain Dal complains about heading back to base down the big bad guy. “After all we’ve been through, after all we’ve done… I don’t wanna lose you“ he says half referring to albino Gywn and half referring to the rest of the crew.
After all you’ve done? It’s been eight episodes. One of those was a two-parter that introduces all of you. One of those was another two-parter, and one of the other episodes pretty much takes place just on the holiday. You guys have had four adventures, tops. That’s hardly “all we’ve been through“ territory. I could see him making this kind of a common after a full 20 episode season, but it’s been eight!
Still, we’ve built up enough interest and intrigue here, and I’ve got real high hopes for a second season. Nothing ever seems to get canceled over in the Star Trek department of Paramount right now, and this, this is actually good for a change. I can’t wait to see how they resolve that this week.
Superman and Lois is back as well. It’s another one that I was vaguely aware starting up again, but haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and watch. We’re three episodes in, so not hard to catch up on over a Saturday afternoon.
One of my friends told me he’d heard it was getting really melodramatic this season. Well, it’s a CW show. It’s gonna be like that. Actually, I think what I’ve noticed more than anything else, is how predictable this season has been so far. After a good season opener which really feels more like the resolution for all of last year… I could watch this one episode and have closure for the series… It’s easy to see a couple of things. Lana is going to run for mayor, Jordan’s girlfriend Sarah cheated on him while she was at camp, and there’s a monster in the mine which is connected to the seizures Superman’s having. Also, Steel and his daughter Natalie are going to end up bunking with the Kents in Smallville.
By the end of the third episode, I had pretty much been proven right on every point. That’s not to say that the series has gone downhill, it just feels very average this year. I’m not having that ear piercing squeals of delight at the end of each show as I was last year, but then again, “average” on this series is actually still better than “great” on a lot of other CW DC properties.
I’m rolling my eyes a little bit at the fact that Sarah cheated on Jordan with another girl… We gotta get that forced tokenized diversity in there! Even if it means changing up a character who previously hadn’t shown any indications of same-sex attraction. I’m going to be very annoyed if they go through the predictable route and have her together with John Henry’s daughter Natalie by the end of this season. Nevertheless, I suspect that’s where this is going. I also didn’t like the little dig at the US at the beginning of episode one. Yes, I understand Superman’s a citizen of the world, but there’s always been a balance between that and Truth Justice and the American Way.
(from Superman #713, July 2011)
It’s all small stuff, they’re not pushing it in our face, and 10 years ago, it have been easier to just kind of let fly by. But with the generally woke direction that most CW shows go, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop here, and I’m hoping that’s not it. This is still the Best Superman we’ve gotten in well over a decade, and still possibly the best Lois Lane ever. It’s really good to see Lois and Clark dealing with parents all the issues, teenage boys and raging hormones, break ups and high school drama. And amid all that, seeing them admit to their own insecurities and doubts. Still the best superhero show on the CW, and a really great version of Superman. Looks like we’ve got a very interesting big bad this year too. I know they were kind of trying to fool us into thinking that thing in the mine was going to be Doomsday, and that suit was dead on. Unfortunately, IMDb ruined the identity for me about 30 minutes early when I went to look up the name of one of the actors. Aargh!
Last but not least, The Flash is back. Something that was interesting last year was just how much we weren’t talking about this year’s crossover in my social circles. My friends actually made a point to mention it’s weird how there’s no build up for Armageddon, no hype, nobody seems to care.
What’s interesting is, this really isn’t a proper crossover anyhow. It helps if you go in understanding this. What Armageddon is is a Flash miniseries. This is absolutely based on the Flash, and on his current team. Cisco Ramon seems to finally be gone for good but we’re getting plenty of other cameos.
And that’s the thing. While we do actually get a pretty full episode with Ray Palmer A.k.a. the Atom, Alex Danvers literally phoned in her cameo in for the next episode. It’s a head and shoulder shot on a video screen for a couple of minutes while she does some research for the team. Black Lightning is a little better, probably spending an entire day shooting in the hall of justice along with Barry. But really, if you’re looking for one of those epic events like we got with Crisis, you’re gonna be disappointed. in fact, if you’re even expecting one of those fun one-note crossovers like Arrow vs. The Flash or Barry showing up on Supergirl….no. It’s not really even that. These are walk-ons.
If on the other hand, you remember that this is just a Flash miniseries, you’ll do fine. The format actually works really well for The Flash. The series, even in its eighth season is keeping up to the kind of average feel it had last year. It’s not spectacular, but it didn’t run out of gas the way I thought it would. It’s actually nice to see everybody again, and especially nice to spend some time with Brandon Routh playing the Atom. Watching Ray and Barry pall around during the first episode just feels right. It feels like an issue of Justice League or a comic book where they just happen to slip a guest star in. That may be one of the things that we’ve missed about some of these characters. The fact that it’s not so much that they’re team flash, or team arrow, or legends, but rather that they are all part of the whole… DC… Super friends…family… Thing. It’s also enjoyable to see Vincent van Gogh from Doctor Who chewing the scenery as a big CGI version of Despero. The costume is a little weird, but the face is dead on.
Is it just me though, or did they cut the budget this year? The CGI third eye on the Despero‘s forehead seems off and cheap. It often feels like they’re having a hard time tracking it and keeping it in the right place. Perhaps it’s just because the eye itself moves and looks around, but either way it gives the impression that the CG overlay is off. It’s distracting. Fortunately, Despero isn’t a front and center most of the time, with this adventure focusing very squarely on team flash and their own investigation.
Episode four is probably where we get the closest to the feel of a real crossover. Barry finds himself in an alternate future, where the team includes Batwoman and Alex Danvers, back for a more meatier role. It’s a flashpoint, or rather a “reverse flashpoint“ created by the Reverse Flash. The end result is he and Barry have changed places with Barry being the villain and him being the hero, and also the team is shuffled into different characters now. It also features the return of Damien Darhk, but really, recurring villains don’t exactly make for a satisfying crossover reunion. And this is anything but a reunion. Not only is it that woman, it’s the new Ryan Wilder Batwoman, not the version played by Ruby Rose that the team had previously associated with. It’s an alternate universe, so I guess it can make sense, but we really don’t have any connection to this character in this contex, and Alex? Well she’s really just a friend of a friend at best. Sure, she attended Barry’s wedding, but it was just as Kara’s plus one. She makes sense as somebody that they happen to know in the DEO doing them a favor, but it’s part of the team,… Let’s just say I don’t feel like we’re getting the A-list anymore.
It doesn’t really matter though, they’re essentially background characters. There are obstacles for Barry to get around as he and Damien Darhk do their best to restore the previous version of reality… Something that will not only save Joe West, but also Damien‘s daughter.
That’s interesting… I’ll get back to that in a minute.
The rest of the heroes though, you could’ve plugged in any one of the random Legends or characters from outside the Arrowverse – Doom Patrol, swamp thing, Stargirl… And the story would’ve basically played out the same. However, that woman really needs the ratings boost and the CW is still trying to pretend that Supergirl didn’t stink for the last few seasons. I get the impression that that’s what these particular pics were all about. That, and the fact that there aren’t enough lesbians in The Flash.
Tom Cavanagh however, is a welcome return. He slides right back into the role, and feels like family. You almost forget that he quit the series halfway last year. I’m glad to see him back, and to be fair, it’s kind of nice to see him stick around for more than one episode.
Barry rights the world here, but we still have episode five to go… And this installment is really a glorified epilogue. I guess star on this one is Mia, daughter of Green Arrow, and taking up his mantle in the future. She’s here to kill Reverse Flash and find her brother. So we get 42 minutes of will-they-won’t-they, and of all the episodes, this one feels the most like filler. That’s something all the crossover stories have, they tend to stretch themselves out just a tad too long, and this one is no exception. On the other hand, it’s a nice time visiting with familiar faces, and like I said, I’m really happy to see Cavanaugh stick around for just a little bit longer. The story is one part crossover, one part filler, and one part set up for when Mia inevitably returns later on in the season. I don’t really mind that, she feels like she belongs here. It’s an interesting legacy though I’ll admit, for me, she doesn’t quite radiate Ali‘s presence yet. I felt Oliver‘s participation in this crossover farmer keenly during the fight between Flash and Black Lightning back in the hall of justice. Flash crashes through the glass case where all these green arrow suit is capped, and his gaze just falls on the bow, as it lays there on the floor. It’s a poignant moment and a reminder that Green Arrow is always with us.
For his part, Barry is very well suited to take over Ollie’s place as the elder statesman of the arrow verse. It’s a good role for him, and if this miniseries does anything it proves that the show still has some life in it. All the characters have really fallen into place and come into their own. Chester has evolved beyond being just Black Cisco, and Iris‘s assistant just feels natural by her side at the Central City Citizen. I almost feel like this team is firing on all cylinders again, probably thanks to having enough time to ramp up this year and execute a story properly, rather than the truncated and strange schedule that the plague afforded us last year. Of course, we only get these five episodes, and the series goes back into hibernation through January and February. The good thing is, the miniseries format actually kind of suits The Flash now this far in, and it also makes for an easily digestible binge watch over the weekend. It’s actually got me looking forward a bit to see what they do next month.
There was something else though that struck me this weekend as I caught up on my DC shows. It’s in the back of my mind with Stargirl as well… Which I’m hoping to go back and catch up on this coming weekend. A theme that I’m noticing here, is fatherhood. There is an immense focus on fatherhood and how necessary fathers are. I’m not saying that it’s completely new, we’ve always had a kicking around with Joe West, but I feel a renewed emphasis on it right now. Not just with the inherent nature of Superman and Lois, but also the relationship between Lana‘s husband Kyle and their daughter Sarah… Buying an old car for them to fix up – a father daughter project.
It’s in Stargirl‘s relationship with her stepfather. This guy, not just taking on the role of father, but mentor. It’s tough enough being a dad, but raising a superhero? And they treat it with such respect. He’s not just a bumbling goof, he’s a little dorky, but he also knows stuff. He’s also right.
Moreover, the last two episodes of the flash were all about fatherhood. All about Damien Darhk, a villain, teaming up with a hero because it meant that he could save his daughter. It was the Absolute anguish on her face when she just got one moment to see him as they both passed through realities. Heck, it was even Team Flashes investigation into Joe West death that really allowed them to solve the greater mystery of Armageddon. There’s really an unusual emphasis on fatherhood that I’m seeing in this last 18 months or so on The CW, and I like it. I’m hoping I see more of it.
Stargirl next week? Maybe?
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