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Posts tagged “CW

Week of 5/16/21

Man, that hiatus did NO one any favors. I completely missed that Flash was back for two weeks before my friend Bobbi mentioned to me that she had two episodes on her DVR, and it wasn’t until my friend Vanessa asked a question about the proximity of Smallville to Metropolis that I remembered that Superman and Lois was back on last week. I’m not the only one. the ratings dropped by about 30% and that’s a shame, because Superman and Lois is one of the best things on television right now.

Look, you can tell it’s superior writing when you can actually make me care about the events of a football game.
The episode smartly starts off with a nice action shot piece, and superman being more powerful than a locomotive. In fact, I felt like we got just a bit more in-costume Superman this episode then we have previously, and I’m really enjoying that. Nevertheless, this really is a family show, and the dynamics of the kids are every bit as important.

We’re still watching Jordan trying to figure out the limits of his powers and how to control them.It’s interesting to see his reaction to them, and his new drive to try and fit in on the football team, but it’s equally interesting to watch Jonathan as he tries to balance high school, and being a supportive big brother, despite the fact that it feels like he’s almost beginning to fall in Jordan’s shadow. In the middle of it all, is Clark, doing his best to shepherd his son through unknown waters (There’s an uncontrollable heat vision moment in  this episode – Clark runs to Jordan’s rescue to help as he can’t hold it in. One arm around his shoulders and a hand in front of his eyes – “Let it out”. The moment just kills me it’s so good). We always knew that Superman would be a good father, and watching him deal with young super boy during the rebirth era of the Superman comics, it felt natural. But that was easy. That version of Jonathan was not quite old enough to join the Teen Titans, and still at an age where children listen to their parents. With these 15-year-olds, things are a touch more complicated… especially since they didn’t grow up knowing that Clark was Superman. This is truly, “Superman as you’ve never seen him before”.

Normally when we hear that description, it means the character is going to go dark, or evil, or greedy… Or emotionally shattered… and the truth is, it never works. It never works because we have in fact, seen it before, and the moment you go down those paths, Clark ceases to be Superman. This on the other hand, allows him to be emotionally vulnerable in the most aspirational way possible. It allows him some self doubt, then shows him rising above it, reminding us that bravery isn’t the absence of fear… It’s acting despite that fear.

Aspirational…..and isn’t that what Superman is really all about in the first place?


This is tough stuff to write. I can’t praise it enough, and I want as many eyes on the show as possible, because it deserves it. This is not the cookie-cutter CW formula, and it’s the best superman we’ve had on any screen since the Justice League cartoon ended. When the episode ended, I literally sat back in my chair and turned off my television, because anything else I watched that night would be a step down. (I’d get to The Flash a day or so later)

The Flash continues to be solid. I know I say that every week, but it bears repeating. The hiatus may have worked in it’s favor, because I had to watch two episodes back to back to catch up. One great one, and then one filler one. Still, the story arc that they are establishing now, with the Flash shutting down these different element infused people that the speed force wants to absorb (at least, I think that’s what’s going on. the technobabble in the Flash is not for the faint of heart), it’s actually an interesting take. I almost feel like I’m watching The Flash do its own version of the war of light storyline from the Green Lantern comics. It’s been engaging and we’re seeing some interesting relationships develop. It manages to feel fresh. The speed-force-as-Barry’s-mother was starting to get a little old, and all of a sudden, they changed things up with a twist and pushed the arc further… It works. It really does.

I keep reading articles about how The Flash has become terrible and the arrowverse needs to end. Anyone who is telling you that is an actually watching the show. It’s still good superhero adventures with familiar faces weekend and week out.
The problem with good, is that it isn’t great. And I’ll admit this is not the great show that overcame my initial objections and won my heart in the first couple of seasons. It’s a different television landscape today though as well. When Arrow and The Flash first showed up, We weren’t really seeing superheroes on TV. Especially superheroes in costumes that actually resemble their comic book counterparts. (Even Marvel was hesitant with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D).… We didn’t see too many comic book accurate looking characters in there until well into that series run) We were grateful just for their existence, and overlooked some of the flaws… Like the-attractive-people-standing-in-hallways-talking-about-their-feelings moments. Since then, we’ve started to see other television take superheroes and go more serious; things like the Netflix Daredevil and Punisher and Defenders. Then Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing and even The Boys showed us that we could go serious and even gritty with these characters, yet still maintain their look and identity. It’s a different world, and sometimes the CW shows that have been around for a while begin to suffer from comparison and adherence to a model that compromises CW aesthetics with superhero action. That doesn’t make it bad though, and I’m still judging the flash strictly on its own merits. It’s still on my must see list every week, and you should do yourself a favor and check it out if you’ve dropped it. Superman and The Flash make Tuesday nights a much better place.

 

 

 


Superman and Lois

I’ve had some time to kind of process what I saw in Superman and Lois. I’ve also heard some other opinions on it, some I agree with, and some that I don’t. What was my reaction?

It’s Fine. That’s all. Just fine.

Look, I like Superman and I have been screaming at the CW for years that in addition to Supergirl, they really ought to make a Superman TV show. Superman for me, has always worked better on television. The thing is, a movie is about spectacle, and a TV show can be about character. The movies are about super, where is the TV show is about man. And superman is really a lot about character, far more so than spectacle. The powers are secondary. They’re just a mundane fact of his existence. what’s really interesting about him is the person, the character. It’s one of the reasons why Smallville worked as well as it did, despite never showing him in the costume.

Being on the CW always worries me. At least these days, they’ve traded a lot of their storytelling for social justice. Supergirl started out as an excellent series. I loved it from the pilot. The first season was amazing, but then they jumped networks… And in the process lost Calista Flockhart‘s character of cat Grant. It’s almost as if they immediately found themselves in an identity crisis and and with no clear vision as to where to go, they plug the holes with social justice. LGBTQ, anti-gun, orange man bad, etc, and little else. It ultimately sunk the show… at least for me it did. (Me and a lot of other people apparently as the ratings went into freefall). Recent offerings like Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow and even Black Lightning haven’t fared much better; focusing more on identity politics and social justice then actual character development. That’s not to say that there’s no place for those things, but there is a tendency in modern entertainment to make it about only about those things, and lean on them instead of any sort of storytelling. There’s an audience out there for that, certainly. But it’s not a big one. Less than half a million people according to the ratings.

So when Superman and Lois was announced, I had my worries. The Flash is still fairly untainted by agenda, but it is running out of steam. Stargirl on the other hand, surprisingly great… An actual call back to those happy, excited feelings I had when Supergirl first burst on the scene. It’s enough to give me hope for Superman and Lois.
I’m glad to see that the CW didn’t drop the ball here… At least not right out of the gate. They pull off a trick I thought they had forgotten, they manage to make Lois a strong, well done female character, and do so without tearing down her male counterpart. She doesn’t have to be strong at the expense of the male characters, instead, she is their equal… And isn’t that really what we’re supposed to be going for? Elizabeth Tulloch is shockingly good in the role too. The more I see of her, the more I buy her as Lois Lane. I really enjoy her more and more.

Superman for his part, is well characterized. I’ve always enjoyed Tyler Hoechlin in the role, he’s every bit as good as Henry Cavill… And while I’m tempted to say it’s better than man of steel, it’s really not an apples to apples comparison. They’re different types of stories with different purposes. Superman retains his integrity, and really works as a father. That’s a dynamic I really was enjoying in the comics… in many ways, this feels like the ideal successor to Smallville – with Clark now finding himself in the same role that Jonathan Kent played, lo those many years ago. It works for this kind of a character and I have to give them props for trying to do something new. They’re exploring a different time of life for Superman and what we normally see, and that’s appropriate. They warned us ahead of time that they were going to do it, which I do appreciate. I’m not big on spoilers, but knowing that this wasn’t going to be Lois and Clark in the city went a long way towards adjusting my expectations. If I hadn’t known this is going to be the Superman family moving to Kansas, I might’ve been a little upset.

I like the new suit well enough. The fact that we see Superman’s had diffrent suits over the years actually makes me like it more and retroactively imprives my opinion of the one we’ve seen in his cameo appearances. I am amused at bits – at times they’re just lifting scenes STRAIGHT from Superman Returns and Man of Steel. I also really liked the (brief) recap (origin, story till now, ect), and thought the golden age costume and the video game (you’ll see what I mean when you watch it) were nice touches. Not sure I’m on board with the mopey teenager. Then again, Smallville had its share of angst and I DID like the interaction with the jr Kent brothers. Not sure why Lana Lang is being played by a low budget Jennifer Tilly. Seriously, though, if those nitpick are my only beef? We’re on some pretty solid ground here.

Here’s the thing, the CW has a great opportunity here. Superman shows are a license to print money. I’m not even kidding. Superman has a proven track record on television, it always works. At least, it always works as long as you stay true to the character. People love Superman for the same reason they love Captain America… It’s a pure character, with virtue and aspirational values. The moment you start deconstructing him it all falls apart. For all the dismissal of Superman as unrelatable, a big boy scout, too corny – there’s a real LONGING for that in entertainment – again, I point to the Captain America films, not to mention the beautiful blended family with a surprisingly strong father figure in Stargirl. Indeed, the family aspect works extraordinarily well in this context, and this has the potential to be something great.
 
I hope the CW is up to it. I’m optimistic as to where it goes from here.