Television, week of 3-15.
I don’t know how to talk about Star Trek Picard without just going back into gushing. That tends to get tedious really quick, so all I’ll say is.. wow. We discover that the changeling infiltration is far worse than anyone had imagined. Remember back in the middle of Deep Space 9? The episode homefront? It was a two parter with Sisko back on Earth, and the paranoia wrapping up as to how Many people might the changelings have already replaced, and how high up the fleet might be compromised. Turns out, there were only six changelings on Earth at that time, and what they really managed to do this stir up paranoia. Well, decades later, all of our greatest fears from that episode have in fact, come true. The changelings are everywhere, And they’ve evolved to the point where traditional blood screenings don’t show them. Trust no one.
By the way? Trust no one? It’s not just Doctor Crusher telling Picard that… it’s…
I’m not gonna tell you. I want you to watch this episode and if you’re a TNG fan, You are going to plotz.
So, remember last week when I was talking about The Mandalorian? When I was describing how Baby Yoda is essential and this theory is head really refocused? Well just throw all of that out the window. This week we’ve got a very good 10 minutes at the beginning, and an OK 10 minutes at the end, the problem is the 35 minutes in the middle which have nothing to do with anything. This week’s episode bookends the restoration of mando, tying up loose ends. By the way, I heard more about living water on this episode than I have anywhere since my day is back at Moody Bible institute. The main story however, the middle section, is all about the evil mad scientists that was going to do unspeakable things to baby yoda when mando 1st picked him up and delivered him to Moff Gideon’s people. I suppose it’s an interesting enough story, but it’s really not the sort of thing you can get away with in a short season. I’m not sure where this belongs. Indeed, it feels more like a comic book supplement or a novelization spin off then something that should be a part of the series proper.
Really, I don’t know what it is about this week, because the Flash is doing the same thing! We ship off Barry and Iris to one last romantic getaway before the baby comes. Their friends are gonna throw baby shower and all that kind of stuff but first, they have to contend with a young woman who was previously dead, but brought back to life during Crisis. When she was brought back, she discovered she has good luck powers, except recently they’ve gone awry. Now she’s at the center of a police investigation, her fiancee is in a coma and the local gangsters are trying to kidnap her because of a elaborate plot involving gambling debts and The local underground casino. Flash isn’t in this at all. In fact there’s no costumes in this at all, it’s like we’re back in the early 2000s when The CW still wanted to make super hero shows like Smallville and Birds of Prey, but were too ashamed of them to actually make them look like super hero shows. All of this should annoy me. The problem is, the story is just so cute and quirky, I chuckled all the way through it. Look, this is still a definite skip if you’re binging the series or trying to do a speed run, but it is the sort of thing that can get away with in the middle of a full season of network TV. Of course, The Flash isn’t getting a whole season, so i’m still not sure what they’re thinking here.
Finally, it’s the return of Superman and Lois. I feel like they’ve done some tweaking on the S on the costume perhaps? It looks a little different. But not as different as Jonathan Kent does! Oh man, this new actor is just all kinds of throwing me off. They’re not even really dressing him the same as the previous iteration. At least some blonde highlights in that hair probably would have helped.
telegraphs sets up a bunch of storylines that we’re gonna be seeing this season. A weird and cringe love triangle with Lana’s ex husband and Lois’s boss, Health problems and a pregnancy scare for Lois, and the continued weirdness in Sarah and Jordan’s relationship. That’s the one that annoys me the most. She wants space, and he’s supposed to be just wait around for her and be okay with that. To me it feels very much like Sarah is stringing him along, and it’s a little ugly. It makes me suspect that they’re prepping to dissolve her relationship with him and put her with a lesbian POC like they were setting up last year. Part of me is also betting it’s gonna be John Henry’s daughter. I just don’t like any of that. It’s an ugly way of treating both Sarah and Jordan. But perhaps I’m overreacting, I’ve been burned enough times that I spent a lot of the series just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like Picard, It’s been so good that I have a hard time believing they haven’t jumped the shark yet! Perhaps I should just unclench and enjoy myself while I can. The villain this time around was good, with a nice old fashioned look to him. “Ugly” Bruno Manheim is in the mix, and anytime you give me one of Kirby’s contributions to the Superman cast, it’s almost always brilliant.They don’t skimp on the action either. We get some good rescue action, and a spectacular knock-down-drag-out with Superman and the villain of the week. It’s everything that I ever asked for in a Superman show. We’ve got compelling hero action, and a great supporting cast of characters. Not to mention that the actress playing Clark and Lois are still knocking it out of the park. Tyler Hochen and Bitsy Tuloch may well become my definitive actors for these characters. They’re just that good.
I also fell down a rabbit hole this weekend. Remember a while back when I mentioned the film Nintendo Quest? Well there’s an entire series featuring Jay Bartlett, the protagonist of that documentary, and his action figure quest. You see, he’s trying to amass a collection of highly sought after action figures to auction off for a London hospital. It’s absolutely riveting. It’s the thrill of all the toy shows I go to but for a better cause. It’s familiar faces and spectacular settings – taking us all the way to Power Con (The ultimate He-Man convention in Anaheim CA – I desperately want to go and I know I’ll never be able to afford it!). I actually passed on this early on because it didn’t capture my imagination enough. Things looked different on this Saturday afternoon and I was channel flipping. It’s amazing and I can’t recommend it enough!
Wow! I’m not used to having this many programs to watch all at once! Kind of nice for a change. Can’t wait to see what happens next week. In the meantime, I’m gonna head back and finish my DVR of history’s greatest heists. I’ve never actually heard of the Museum of Natural History robbery before!
Man, it’s all finales all day over here! Admittedly, I’m a little late. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but in the meantime I didn’t even know that Superman and Lois as well as the flash we’re both ending on the same week! When I referred to the penultimate episode in the last blog, turns out, I was actually accurate! There’s not a whole lot to say about Superman and Lois. They wrapped up the storyline, gave us a good climax, and then spent a good 15 minutes after all that tying up loose ends and resolving the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I also particularly enjoyed them slipping in what may be the most obscure Easter egg ever. If you know what that Miracle Monday banner actually refers to… You can absolutely be my friend.
The Flash on the other hand felt a little abrupt in it’s ending. The whole thing really sped along… No pun intended… In creating its own climax. I felt like I needed another two episodes or so, not surprising considering the season was only 20 episodes. The plague still affecting us and giving us shorter seasons I think. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular ending, with the ultimate fight between Flash and Thawn (Who’s your tailor? SATAN???) and you can genuinely see where this was designed to be a series finale. That may be one of the reasons it feels so rushed, because the renewal for this show came very late, and they were trying to tie it all off. Last minute changes had to be made so they could pull one more season out of this series, and I for one am actually glad. The Flash has actually really rebounded in the last season and a half, and I’m definitely up for one more ride. I swear, part of me thinks that the reason the movie keeps getting delayed is because the series just won’t die… Somewhere, somehow, Barry keeps messing with the timeline to make sure that the film doesn’t come out until the TV shows ready to end!
Ms Marvel may actually be the strongest of the Marvel shows right now. It’s almost as if Marvel discovered superhero action again… There’s still not enough of it mind you, but definitely more than what we got in WandaVision or Loki. Episode four gives us a pretty spectacular fight and chase, and they almost gave us a costume. Not quite, but almost get there. It’s back to a very talky story though once we hit episode five. It’s almost entirely made up of a flashback, going back to Kamala’s ancestors and more of the bracelets origins. It’s actually the exact sort of thing that would get cut if anybody was trying for anything resembling normal pacing. Indeed, I think the filler in these shows is a lot more onerous, because they’re such short series. When you got 22 episodes, yeah, give me a flashback episode. Let’s explore every bit of the history. When you’ve only got six episodes? Just put her in the mask and let me see her punching things. Still, the finale does that’s good. It’s a nice big chase, it’s a nice big fight, it almost feels divorced from a lot of the rest of the series. Come on was protecting the son of the ClanDestine leader… resolving in New Jersey the big adventure that we had in Pakistan. We also finally get the costume. Seriously, this has been one of the thanks it’s really annoyed and frustrated me in this series. Why do we wait till the very end, the last episode to get the costume? I was supposed WandaVision did a similar thing, but then again, it pissed me off there too!
Nevertheless, Ms Marvel seems to be the closest thing to getting it right that Marvel has done on television. It’s not there yet, and they still seem obsessed with a certain formula that isn’t quite working. I’m hoping somebody starts to fine-tune this a little bit more, because for the first time I really see the potential here. it doesn’t hurt that the actress playing Kamala is cute as a button and perfectly adorkable in the role. She gets the character and really pulls it off well. Indeed, I hope they jump straight into some more with her, because a big part of her charm is her youth. And she’s not gonna stay that age for very long… But much to my pleasant surprise, they may actually get me to watch the marvels just because of her! Imagine that.
So much TV! – week of 6/22/22
It’s gonna be a crowded week. I know my wife was just complaing that it’s all summer reruns for her, but for me, everything is firing on all cylinders, full speed ahead.
Superman and Lois is back, and there’s something to be said for a series like this… Where every single episode feels like the penultimate episode. As bizarro world attempts to merge with earth, Superman is down for the count and powerless. It’s up to all of our second string heroes, including Jordan as well as stealing his daughter to protect Smallville. In the meantime, The evil doppelgängers are back, looking for their counterparts and looking to take out Clark while he’s still vulnerable. All of this goes on, Lana finds herself coping not only was just learning the job of being the newly elected mayor, but also dealing with an extinction level superhero crisis and trying to pull the town together in the midst of it.
The Orville has done an excellent job of really being Star Trek… Copying the aesthetic and the trajectory… And for the first time I wonder and worry if they’ve also swallowed the poison pill of modern Star Trek. The Orville hasn’t been without its social justice and political points… Although it’s generally been fairly evenhanded with them. But with this episode, featuring the election of the Krill… The bad guys, basically religious Klingons, I wonder if they’re getting a little heavy handed with their political commentary. We have an election that changed suddenly… mysteriously… almost overnight! And yet we have the leader who wins being very much A nationalist and an ideologue… All the things they said President Trump was. Of course one could also apply that to current President Biden, who governs every bit as an extremist as they all said Trump would be. The fact that there is suggestions of a stolen election… Or a challenge to it… Like I said. It’s heavy-handed and I’m feeling a little attacked. I actually chatted with us a little bit with one of my friends who does not share my political leanings. He’s not necessarily my opposite or even in the middle, but more of a cynic… and unlike other people who I hear frequently say “I hate all politicians“ and claim to be independent… He actually is. From his viewing, he saw a bit of skewering of both sides… And I’m content to leave it at that. I know my bias. Still, it’s clumsy and really not what I want to watch The Orville for. It’s a shame too, because the episode is gorgeous. The Krill homeworld is shocking how detailed and well realized it is. It’s just gorgeous and a monstrous bit of science-fiction design. Is everything you want from a future alien city.
Week of 6-8-22
Oh wow, Superman and Lois just went full on soap opera this week. I mean it. It’s nothing but drama… With a little bit of superheroics tacked on in the last 12 minutes or so. This may actually be the first bad episode they’ve had… And quite frankly, you can skip it. Anything that was important in this episode will almost certainly be recapped when the shower turns on June 22. I’ve got to admit though, for the series to have gone some 35 episodes or so and only so now hit a bad one, it’s actually pretty good. Supergirl jumped the shark almost immediately in her second season, and this is way better produced than that. It’s not enough to put me off, but yikes. They’re making up for turning the soap opera dial down a little bit the last couple episodes this week.
One thing that I am noticing though and it bears mentioning is the character of Kyle Cushing… Lana‘s husband. Lana and Kyle are currently separated because she discovered he cheated on her years ago while he was still drinking. In general, I don’t side with cheaters. I despise them. And even when I can understand the events that led to it, I am always on the side of the person who got cheated on. That’s mostly true here as well, but what impresses me is the links to which Kyle is going to try and win Lana back, as well as being a good father and try and keep his family together. Early in that first season most of us pegged Kyle as the “grown-up frat boy“ or “craft beer douche bag“, “former high school football hero”. It would’ve been very easy for them to just slip into the abusive husband or bad dad or dumb Republican kind of tropes. Instead, they’ve given him a great deal of nuance. The fact they’re showing him trying so hard and actually being a good father… The fact that they’re treating him as a character instead of a caricature – they absolutely deserve props for that.
One of the criticisms I’ve been hearing about Obi-Wan is how much it’s reminding people of the last Jedi… Specifically comparing sad Luke Skywalker in exile and saying Ewan McGregor is kind of sad Obi-Wan also in exile. I can see where they’re coming from on this, but at the same time I think things like the Last Jedi, and the constant bait and switch tactics we’ve seen ramp up over the last few years, and a lot of the diversity stunt casting rather than organic diversity… I think all of that has made us more sensitive to things we probably would’ve dismissed 10 years ago. I think we really wouldn’t be looking at this quite so critically if it had come out say, right after the Force Awakens. Imagine this and rogue one coming out within a year of each other… and then giving us the second sequel, making us wait three years instead of two. In any event, I think some of those criticisms have been answered here. Because in episode four, Obi Wan is driven, and singularly minded. He is on mission and finally giving us the Jedi action hero that we’ve been waiting to see. It also restores something that’s been missing from the D+ SW shows. For me, growing up, I could never figure out who was the actual hero of Star Wars. Was it the space pirate Han Solo or the cosmic mystic Luke? I think that this balance of those two aspects was really the key to Star Wars success. When the prequels came out, we were really missing this as they overfocused on the Jedi, and they never quite figured out how to strike that balance in the sequels. at first it looked like Finn would become the new streetwise space cowboy, but then Disney couldn’t figured out what to do with him so they shrunk his role and his space on the poster (because China doesn’t like Black people) and basically turned him into little more than a damsel in distress for Rose Tico – really a disservice to both characters.
With the release of the Mandalorian, we finally had our gritty shooty bang bang space western hero back, but now, the Jedi were all but absent. Oh sure, we’d get a guest appearance here or there, but for the most part, they weren’t a big part of that story. Obi-Wan feels like the other side of that coin. Like we’re getting a little bit of each depending on which series you watch. I’d love to see the balance achieved a little bit more, but it seems that we may actually be getting somewhere here. I sure hope so. There’s a lot of people who have lost their love for Star Wars because of how mishandled it’s been, and Obi-Wan should’ve been a good step towards getting them back… If it’s not too far gone already.
Ms. Marvel premiered this week as well, and I’m of two minds about it. They definitely have their target audience… Leaning heavily into the fangirl, convention fiend sort of element. Indeed, the entire episode really centers around Kamala Khan and her friend trying to figure out how they’re going to get to avengers con, in the heart of the city. I recognize a lot of myself in this, especially recognize a lot of my daughter in this. I’m surprised however, at how much I also relate to the parents… And they are of course, cast as the unreasonable bad guys. That I don’t like. But then again, we’re not the target audience. (However, people my age also weren’t the target audience for Stargirl….and I was completely all in on that show pretty much from the word go)
Ms. Marvel is one of those characters that is moderately popular, but that Marvel wants to make way more popular… Much like the way they hype Captain Marvel. And this first episode is very much a Captain Marvel hype machine. I’m not sure how successful that’s gonna be, but then again, I’m not seeing a ton of stuff here that bothers me or that I’d object to in the first place. It’s also very early in the story, and we haven’t gotten much happening yet except introducing our characters and learning the source of Ms. Marvel’s powers.
The Orville seem to be full of homage this week. Every time we turn around, I kind of felt like I was watching something lifted from a bit of one episode of next generation or another. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’re watching the Orville because it’s the best Star Trek out there right now… Which is saying something considering it’s not Star Trek.
The ships get permission to cross through Krill space… Those were the white and scaly bad guys from last year. Crossing through there and gives them access The areas of the galaxy previously unexplored… And everyone’s excited. Everyone but the Krill. When they learn that the Orville will be going through a dark expanse… Let’s just put it this way; they pray the last rights over them before they leave. They have legends about that area… Demons that possess people and hide unimaginable terrors.
That’s quite a set up. And it’s worth noting… They’re gonna pay this thing off in spades.
Just past Krill space, they come across an area that just seems like a void. There are no stars. It’s hard for sensors to penetrate, but undaunted, they had in. Inside this large dark cloud they find a bizarre looking space station. They’re explorers, it’s time to explore. Shuttlecraft is dispatched and the whole thing has a very Star Trek the motion picture feel to it. The tiny ship as it penetrates the black clouds, and then enters the looming space station. Watching the bizarre hatchways open in a sort of star/claw formation… And the essential alieness of it all.
Inside, I actually start to get extremely strong Borg vibes. The best of both worlds, where they’re exploring the ship and trying to figure out what different nodes and lights do in signify. what those notes do, is infect visitors. One of the away team is infected with a virus that completely rewrites his DNA and turns him into… Let’s just call it a monster. It’s very reminiscent of the episode of TNG where Barkley turns into a spider… Only there’s more of them, and as monsters go, they’re pretty horrifying. Perhaps too intense for broadcast television, but then again, the Orville no longer have to worry about that. Being on Hulu allows some fair that’s slightly more R-rated.
It’s interesting, because I’ve seen a lot of people complain about the sort of horror violence that we’ve seen in modern Star Trek… Myself included – though not quite so publicly – and yet here, it doesn’t bother me quite so much. Perhaps it’s because we’re dealing with monsters. There’s always been monsters on Star Trek… As opposed to watching people get their eyes gouged out by other people or watching a bunch of Falcons see a vision so horrible they blast themselves in the head with tasers… here, it’s just not so mean-spirited. Modern Star Trek is Saw, whereas the Orville is still the old-fashioned 80s slasher movie style or a 50s Wolfman flick. monsters, not cruelity. All of our characters get a chance to be heroic, and despite the other horror of the situation, the show and the crew still managed to retain an optimistic outlook. This is great stuff, and I am totally on board for the season. The weekly episodes… Honestly it’s the highlight of my week, much of the way Doctor Who used to be.
Another thing that’s striking me about the Orville is how distinct its ships look. The union ships them selves still have a lot of the Starfleet clean look to them… Definitely that same color scheme, But the design itself… Well, you’ll never mistake it for Star Trek. The same is true with a lot of the computer consoles, though everything else about the show really could be another TNG era spinoff. That of course is what has made this thing so strong. But I do sometimes find myself wishing for prettier ships… Then again, I was never a big fan of the look of the Enterprise D. The Orville is filmed exquisitely, almost to the point where I may actually like it better than the TNG flagship. Isn’t that strange?
The Flash is in a weird place this week. They kind of need half an episode to use as a bridge episode, connecting us to the greater storyline, but they also insist on throwing a big storyline that’s unrelated… And quite honestly, not that compelling. The B storyline involves the temporary editor at the central city citizen… And it’s another example of this show really dying to be and ensemble show, the problem is it’s not. The main character of the show… Well quite frankly his name is in the title. And he’s off on a secret mission… so in the mean time, the show is trying to push the supporting cast. Even worse, it’s the new supporting cast, not the characters that we really got attached to over the years. I understand, with this many episodes you do have to shuffle a little bit, but… they’re not pulling it off. We’ve had a really great run this season, but now, it’s almost like it’s catching up to them. Between this and the cast turnover, I know I keep vacillating back-and-forth, but it’s swung me back towards this should be
And man, it’s a good thing that television has been halfway decent lately, because there’s not a damn thing I want to read in comics right now.
Spider-Man number three is just depressing. It’s nice to get a recap of tombstone‘s origins, but man, that beat down Spidey takes… It bothers me kind of the way the beat down in Superman Returns bothers me. It’s just not what I want to see.
I tried to get the Poison Ivy issue this week a chance, but… Just ugh. I don’t recognize these characters anymore. And none of the politically charged pride books, or the new and improved justice league full of anything but what we’d actually like from justice league… Say Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? (And the real ones I mean, not the great value brand that DC is currently trying to pass off). I mean, seriously, if Grant Morrison could get this right while hopped up on whiskey and amphetamines, chain-smoking a dozen clove cigarettes at once, this can’t be that hard.
At least Archer and Armstrong is still interesting enough. It’s really more of an alternative comic… And I like the direction they’re going this time around. And the current stories are trying to find a way to restore Armstrong’s immortality, and it’s been a lot of fun. Exactly the sort of weird alternative Loopy fun that this title has never gotten enough credit for.
Hopefully we get better next week.
Week of 6-1-2022
One of the things that always bothers me about serialized shows over episodic are these kind of in-between shows like we had on Superman and Lois this week. It’s not really filler… Well, the subplot about Lana‘s daughter and her music might be, but for the most part, these are all story threads that need to get into the series but can’t necessarily be wrapped up in a solo adventure. There’s not so much a story going on this week as there is connective tissue being developed.
Nevertheless, we’ll see what happens next week.
Not much to speak of and comics last week so I may as well tag it on here. I did pick up Deadpool bad blood… This is sort of Rob Leifield‘s triumphant return to the character he created. Thing is, the Deadpool that Rob Leifield created is not really the Deadpool we know today. There’s significant differences in tone and in general zaniness and all that’s fine. But life is treating him the way he always did. That’s his prerogative, he’s the creator. But what the sense of being, is very much a Rob Liefeld book for Rob Liefeld fans. And boy, is it ever Liefeld. I mean, Liefeld on steroids. It’s a little jarring, almost enough to make me rethink my constant emphatic defense of the man’s style.
Still, I expect that Liefeld fans will really dig this, but I got admit, it’s just not for me. Issue one didn’t do a whole lot for me, and I’m jumping off this title with issue two.
Ghost Rider on the other hand, continues to blow my mind. I’ve dipped my toe in Ghost Rider here and there over the years. He’s a staple of the Marvel universe, but he’s usually treated mostly as a superhero. Perhaps supernatural superhero adventures, or Scooby Doo – kids Halloween party levels of spook. But it’s always comic book spooky. It’s always super hero affair, it’s always comics code levels of terror.
That’s not what we’re getting from this Ghost Rider series.
This Ghost Rider book is straight up horror. Not dark fantasy, not horror edged or supernatural heroics, this thing feels like straight up horror. Not even comic book horror, like Man Thing or Tomb of Dracula… Reading this book gives me very similar vibes that I get from old Garth Ennis Hellblazer back in the day. We’re constantly seeing unspeakable monstrosities slither into existance. The writer knows he can’t pull off a jump scare but he can definitely shock you. He can create imagery that just lingers and disturbs and that’s exactly what he does. There’s a real brilliance to it and I feel like this is what Ghost Rider always should’ve been… What it always wanted to be. This one’s a book you absolutely need to go out and pick up.
Catching up with my CW shows
Last Week of March 22
Nothing much worth reading last week other than ghost rider. I’m really digging the spooky vibe they’re really trying to confuse here… It’s street horror spooky. Gothic spooky, not comic book spooky. Two issues in and I’m digging it.
On the TV front, I gotta say, the flash went full CW this week. Literally the bad guy was defeated by the power of “attractive people, standing in hallways talking about their feelings“. I don’t know. I heard we just got renewed for a full ninth season, except I also heard Grant Gustin isn’t appearing in every episode. Look, this is not an ensemble show. You’ve always had a good string a supporting characters, but this is a show driven by the title character… You know, “THE FLASH”???? If we were going to push it more ensemble, well, this point. That ship has sailed. If this wants to shift into a show with more of a rotating cast of characters, it may be time to scrap the flash, in favor of something like “showcase“ or “ The brave and the bold“. Still, the flash generally makes me happy as long as I keep my thumb on the fast forward button.
Superman and Lois has. But here’s the thing, I like these characters. I care about them, I’m invested in them… So I’m not really upset by it being that way. It’s strong enough to survive an entire episode without Superman. These characters that should actually really kind of annoy me… Especially these two teenage boys… No. They’ve consistently kept me engaged and it genuinely surprises me. Even more surprising is the fact that they’ve got me rooting for Sam Lane. Seriously? General Lane was always a jerk in the comics, and they translated that pretty well in the first season. Yet, I’m kind of digging him… Watching him try and do better. Watching him train Jordan into the superhero that he’s obviously becoming. Indeed, the show hasn’t just gone. Brother, it’s gone full Smallville. Watching Jordan this last few episodes it’s very much a similar feeling to watching Clark find his wedding as his power started to develop in the show. It’s interesting, I watch Lois‘s reaction to Jordan wanting to go out and help people, and I genuinely wonder… Is this way Martha would’ve acted? In a lot of ways, I feel like Jonathan and Martha had an easier time… Clark was a fundamentally good kid who wanted to do right by his parents. Jonathan and Jordan aren’t the same way, and yet they also kind of are. It all makes for really interesting watching… Really interesting comparison and contrast, but absolutely feels like it is the successor to Smallville. And that’s not a bad thing. Smallville was some of the best Superman of its era… Superman and Lois is definitely the best around in our modern period.
I also finally took the time to sit down and watch the Netflix Texas chainsaw massacre. But I think I’ll save that for a little bit later.
Week of 3-7-22
You know, as I looked at my stack of comics last week, I feel a little bad that there’s only one DC title. Then again, marvels kind of dominating things right now with their Devils Reign event and all of its tie-ins. I suppose I make up for the lack of DC comics by focusing on their television instead. I did manage to catch up with Superman and Lois, and my opinion hasn’t really changed. It feels like the last three or four episodes have really just been about cramming as many confusing and heartbreaking emotions in to the viewer as possible and it’s beginning to wear on me a bit. It doesn’t help that they are also indulging in the same, played out “the government is evil” trope that Star Trek Picard is beating into the ground as well… But at least Superman and Lois is watchable The Flash is back as well, after a reasonably strong start with the Armageddon miniseries. I know, technically that’s supposed to be a arrow versus crossover, but considering that we’re crossing over with two canceled shows, and one that nobody’s watching… It’s really just a flash show. In fact, this is turning into the best way to showcase some of these characters. Since justice league tied up the rights to most of the main line DC heroes after the flash, The CW is had to pursue increasingly obscure characters… And it stopped working a while ago. Bringing them in as guest heroes though, that’s actually not a bad idea at all, it has been a lot of fun. It’s helped The Flash kind of reinvigorate the series, after a very slow start to the last season (but also very strong finish)
Actually, that sort of makes sense considering The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace revealed to Comicbook.com that he’s currently writing the Season 8 finale as if it also needs to be a proper sendoff for the series. If that’s true, then I’ll tell you this much, I expect a spectacular season this year, with the show trying to go out on top.
Like I said. Weird.
It makes me wonder how much of both of their canon has been dropped in the face of the constant DC reboots… New 52 to rebirth to whatever this currently is. It’s a shame actually, because these desperate attempts to shoehorn girl power and strong female characterization into these characters feels forced, mostly because they already WERE strong female characters… and this kind of stuff actually deconstruction chips away at that. It’s a step backwards, not forwards. Whatever, I’m still going to enjoy Steph and Cass bantering back-and-forth.
It’s a straightforward story. Moon Knight gets himself caught and thrown in jail to get at a particular con in there… making his way to him and his bloody revenge through a trail of broken bones and beaten down prisoners. It’s a solid one-shot adventure for people who like this sort of thing. I’m not a huge Moon Knight guy, so it’s hard for me to say what the appeal would be to his fans, but I really enjoyed it despite not being a fan.
Got a Harper show coming up this weekend with lots of longboxes to dig through. Maybe I’ll start looking for just that sort of thing Sunday!
Week of 2-22-22
Could whoever is running the control board over at Superman and Lois turn down the “soap opera“ dial a few notches please?
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?
Superman and Lois Return, Loki concludes!
First and foremost, I’d like to thank The Flash for not making me wait two weeks to resolve a cliffhanger the way that Superman and Lois has. The Godspeed war has been consistent, fun, intense, and genuinely good stuff. I still wish they’d stop race swapping characters, but at least Impulse was fairly well done.
Over on Superman and Lois, my biggest observation is that Elizabeth Tulloch just keeps getting better. I look at her, and I just see Lois Lane. She may be the best Lois I’ve ever seen… and that’s saying something. It’s a hard role. You have to balance softness and femininity and the occasional damsel in distress role with being hard-nosed, persistent, brilliant, and brave enough to give off a vibe of this isn’t the first time I’ve had a gun in my face. Some Loises veer too soft, like Amy Adams, Noelle Neil, and even sometimes Teri Hatcher. Others just get way too hard, like Margot Kidder, or Kate Bosworth. Phyllis Coates may have been the only one I ever saw balance it perfectly for her era, but Elizabeth Tulloch’s version is unprecedented in how well-rounded it is.
It may help that she’s at a different time of life. She’s emotionally grounded with her two sons, and we don’t have the on-again off-again, will they won’t they, Superman or Clark debate. She’s chosen Clark, and in fact, was never so shallow as to be infatuated with Superman. I like that. And either way, knowing that they end up together and have established this long lasting relationship, it adds character and depth and just makes her more likable. But she’s still tenacious, she’s still a reporter, and a force to be reckoned with.
I put all this out there, because this week is really her episode. We do get some stellar stuff with John Henry Irons as Steel, but with Superman being mind controlled on the other side of the planet, this episode is really all about Lois taking charge, convincing them not to kill Superman, and trying to support Lana’s family as they suffer the backlash from the community that got possessed by alien beings. The series is just so good, and Steel looks great (although he needs a better helmet). But I got plenty of resolution, in fact, once again I almost feel like it’s the end of the season… Even though I know it’s not. Edge is imprisoned and still planning something nefarious.
As good as the Flash and Superman were, we then have… Loki. Seriously, what happened to Loki?
After such a great episode last week, we come back for the series finale, and… nothing happens. This episode is literally just people talking at each other. Mostly people talking at each other from one side of the desk to the other. It’s an oral history of the marvel multi-verse. That’s all. Nothing happened. Even during a brief sword fight, it really is only there to mask the fact that they’re still just talking back-and-forth. I am utterly disappointed, and genuinely bored. And I’m getting an enormous amount of heat from Loki STANS online, not just because I think it was a wasted opportunity, but because I didn’t think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Literally. I tried to find nice things to say about it, amazing music, beautiful imagery, and I mean that. It IS a gorgeous show, with some of the best music I’ve ever heard in television. There was also one cute bit that made Miss Minuets, the animated clock girl look very sinister – but after that intro, nothing happens! Not a single thing happens in this episode! It’s all just exposition… and me saying that seems to offend some people. The common response is “it’s setting up phase 4!“ I’ve heard that 1000 times. I understand. I agree actually, Kang is the big bad and it’s setting up the multi-verse. But there still was no story to this series! Iron Man set up the MCU. So did Thor, so did Captain America. And all of them manage to tell individual adventures while setting up the universe. They didn’t just info dump us and walk away. I literally had somebody tell me “I’m tired of adventures, I just want to see the set up for the new movies and the character development!“ Well that’s not really what the MCU is it? It’s comic book adventures. You want a balance between worldbuilding and story (interestingly, episode five hit that balance perfectly). Say 80% story and 20% world building. Loki has that ratio flipped on it’s head, completely backwards. Of all the MCU TV shows, this one has had the absolute LEAST story.
Moreover, there’s no character development here. Loki is the same person at the end of the series that he was in the beginning. He’s not even a character, he’s a sounding board for exposition who occasionally provides positive affirmation for Girl Loki. And Sylvie? She’s also the same character from the beginning to the end. She is the best Loki ever, and that’s all. There’s no heroes journey, there’s no great awakening, the series just… Is. Someone tried to tell me this is a masterclass in storytelling. (You’d have to tell a story for that to be true). Someone actually told me I need to read Shakespeare and I’ll appreciate it more (Shows how little they know about me. Also, try Wagner instead. Loki is far more rooted in the epic northern tales than in Elizabethan England).
I don’t hate Loki (although the MCU stans are really making me dislike it more every day) but I am disappointed. This could’ve been so much more. This could’ve been Doctor Who and Rick and Morty on crack. And it should’ve been. Instead, all we got was a history textbook. A D&D source book. Tom Hiddleston (Who is still brilliant in the role – pity he isn’t given anything to do) staring charmingly at the camera, but no storytelling, character development or adventure of any sort. I could cut this thing down into a 100 minuet film and still get all the necessary world building and character introductions in with better pacing and less filler. (About 80% of episode one, the Sylvie stuff from two, all of episode five and about ten minuets of three, four and six).
All I can say, is I hope What If and Hawkeye are better.
Week of June 21st
Getting the reviews in JUST before it’s time to watch this weeks new episodes!
I have repeatedly said over the years that Superman works better on television than he does in film. The thing is, counterintuitive as it may be, Batman works better in movies because Batman is all about spectacle. Superman on the other hand, isn’t. For him, it’s all about character. It really is. It’s about reconciling the man with the super and the exploration both of him and he is supporting cast – one of the things that Superman and Lois has really gotten right. That balance, that exploration, all wrapped up in a slow burn. Last weeks episode paid off set ups I didn’t even noticed had occurred. It was all about exploring the past for half of the episode, and then crashing straight into the newest crisis. But it couldn’t of done it properly without the previous nine hours of set up and character exploration.
There’s also a wise effort to homage what’s come before without explicitly connecting to it. We begin the episode with the creation of the fortress of solitude… And it’s obviously trying to evoke the first Superman movie. Of course in a world where that first Salkind Superman film exists, anything else is going to feel a little hollow… And indeed, the same is true of Jor-el. I feel like this actor is miscast, certainly he doesn’t stand up well against luminarias like Marlon Brando and Russell Crowe. The less we see of him the better. Perry White, he is similar miscast, or perhaps we’re just not getting enough of him for me to judge fairly. That’s OK, because they dangle just enough of that Superman and Lois relationship budding that I feel good about it. I feel like I’ve seen everything I need to (and it’s the most realistic one we’ve ever seen – a natural evolution of thier working relationship, as opposed to a meek Clark trying to get the attention of a callous Lois who is preoccupied with an unattainable Superman). We’ve got the whole Lois and Clark vibe, every bit as much as we get the Smallville feeling every time we’re back in town. Overall, this show is about expanding the mythology, and building on everything that has come before.
Building. You know, that’s an interesting turn of phrase. And it perhaps best represents what I’m really liking about this series. It’s building. Instead of falling into the trendy habit of deconstructing, this one’s trying to build and expand, and that’s what makes it the best Superman we’ve seen in nearly 2 decades. And they’re not done with us yet. We’re only halfway through the season. At the end of the episode, when Lois calls John Henry Irons, to tell him things are beginning… I had chills.
Good thing that Superman was so good, because the Flash… UGG.
Seriously, is it just me or has this season of The Flash been a little bit light on… Well, THE FLASH??? Barry and Iris are off to some deserted island with no cell coverage to go make babies, which leaves Team Flash alone to deal with the villian of the week. Except, it’s not really Team Flash anymore. I mean we’ve got all these minor characters that have kind of gotten promoted in the wake of Wells and Cisco and eventually Caitlyn leaving. We’re going to do this Flash-lite episode just with them? This isn’t Legends of Tomorrow where it’s a pure ensemble, this is a show with a clear lead and all of these jumped up minor characters just doesn’t do it for me. It’s almost as if, let’s say in the fifth or sixth season of Star Trek the next generation… What if they decided to replace Geordie Laforge with Barkley, jettison Troi and just give Guinan a full-time role on the show… Maybe Nurse Ogawa gets promoted to doctor and we get rid of Crusher, throw Ensign Sito into the main security role on the bridge… heck while we’re at it – let’s make a depowered Q second in command!
My buddy Mike says it sounds like an interesting alternative universe, while my friend Bobbie says it makes her eye twitch. But either way, as the prime timeline, as the main series, how weird with this be? That’s kind of what I feel like happening on the flash right now, and I really don’t dig it. I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t even finish this episode.
Loki was similarly disappointing. Again we have a lot of X position, a lot of talk, but it feels like so much filler. I almost feel like they had more material than they could fit in a simple movie, but not enough to fill a proper series or miniseries, so it’s getting stretched out. In a film you’d get rid of a lot of the stuff and just hit the two or three plot points that were given Each episode expeditiously. On the other hand if it were a full TV series, or even say a full Netflix run Dash 10 to 12 episodes, we spaced this talky stuff out a lot more instead of dumping it into 2/3 of each episode. Of course that would also necessitate a B storyline, which is also really lax. Low-key just isn’t all that, and it’s being driven on the sheer likability of Tom Hiddleston. I’m not sure if that’s enough, but considering we are already halfway through it, I’m hoping things will really start to pick up. Otherwise the next few weeks are going to be a bit of a slog.
Week of June 14th
The main thing that struck me about Loki this week, was how slow it was. The episode was mostly filler (and two episodes in? That’s not a great sign). Don’t get me wrong. We had one or two key plot elements revealed, and that’s good stuff. But 80% of this episode… If this were a feature film, this would be the stuff that got cut. Of course the big reveal that the variant was a female version of lucky, well let’s just say I called this before the series started. At this point, in modern day politics, it was practically a requirement. That said, you’re doing it the right way. Girl Loki is very much her on character, and doing her own thing. Interesting
Over on Superman and Lois, @&$# just got real. Stakes like I’ve never seen before on a CW show, and an explosive climax that was… completely Superman. Not just brutalizing Zod like he did in Man of Steel , not just moping his way through it like in Superman Returns, but an intelligent, clever solution to a world ending problem… Absolutely Superman.
It is not an exaggeration for me to say this is the best Superman I’ve seen in 20 years.
We’re definitely getting more Superman than Clark now. Almost like the first few episodes were frontloaded with Clark story, and now it’s a lot more superman story. It’s an interesting disbursement, and it works. Because as things grow more dire as we move towards a climax, we need Superman more than Clark. Of course now that we’ve hit that climax, one almost wonders where do we go from here? We’re about halfway through the season, but there’s still a lot more to go… and yet this totally felt like it was a season finale. It really gets me eager for what we have in store…
Flash is leaning a little more heavily into intrigue the season. We’re trying to discover things like why the new police chief hates Metas, but we’re also dealing with a lot of B story stuff – like Barry and Iris trying to get pregnant in strange places (like the lab warehouse?), and Black Cisco trying to catalog and dance in his lab. It’s a real effort The show is making to help us accept Chunk as Cisco Ramon‘s replacement… And, it just doesn’t work for me. Cisco was adorkable, where as Chester is just gawky… and not really his own character. He’s just another carbon copy of the archtype, very similar in fanboy inclinatons to Cisco….It’s just feels like a mulligan to me.
Still, it’s a rollicking good adventure with a familiar face, if not exactly a returning villain. But the adventure really feels secondary here. This episode is not really about team flash beating bad guys, as much as it is about really trying to integrate Black Cisco onto the team and more importantly, picking up on some of the threats they been dropping about Cecile. That turned out nicely creepy, and it’s a pleasant change to have attractive people talking about their feelings and padded rooms instead of attractive people talking about their feelings in hallways. Overall, this is a bridge episode. It’s not filler, but it doesn’t quite stand on its own either. It’s necessary to push the long-term storytelling to the next plot point. Still, if you’re keeping up on the series, it’s fun.
There’s a lot of familiar tech and Easter eggs dropped throughout it, stuff that reminds you why we love the flash and jumped on board with this show in the first place.
And what is this I hear about The Food That Built America having a PODCAST??? I’m going to have to check that out today while I’m on the road. The story of chewing gum was less compelling last night than last week’s potato chip episode, but I’m really still riveted. I hope the podcast isn’t just the narration from the show or something dumb like that. We’ll find out and report back next week!
Week of 6/6/21
It’s a weird week when the Flash is on the top of the discussion list, but we had a really good episode this week. Cisco is leaving… I mean, he kind of left the show a couple times already, but this time it’s official. This time they’re really committing to it, and giving us what is very much a farewell story. Sure there’s actually a fun villain in it that does some cool stuff, but that’s not what this one’s really about this very much is Cisco story… And it underscores where we’re at with the Flash. It’s time to end it. The series still has enough heart and momentum great episodes like this really resonate. We had a fairly shocking farewell to Wells, and we know that Caitlyn‘s leaving this year too. All of this at once, it feels like if we were to keep pushing another year, that it would just be a mistake. One by one bid farewell to these beloved characters, and maybe just time to put the chairs on the tables and call it a day. After Crisis, the Arrowverse really was over.
Of course, that doesn’t seem to apply to Superman and Lois (or Stargirl for that matter). Then again, it’s hard to tell if it’s proper Arrowverse or not. It’s not cast or paced like an Arrowverse show, and indeed, we’re even reusing a villain from Supergirl season one – you may remember, back when Alex was straight, she even went on a date with him to get information. Then again, I’m not entirely certain if this is really Morgan Edge after all. This weeks episode ended with a bang and a twist and a cliffhanger that has me very eager to see what happens next.
I guess the big news this week is Loki. I’m gonna admit that I enjoyed it. This may be the strongest MCU TV show… At least the strongest opening for one of them that I’ve seen. That’s not surprising, Tom Hiddleston is effortlessly charming, and Owen Wilson is actually very good when he chooses not to do the Owen Wilson/Matthew McConaughey thing. I am intrigued to see where this goes, although I might be a little bit disappointed if the big bad doesn’t turn out to be Kang the Conquerer!
Week of 5/31/21
Man, I watched a LOT of TV this week, and I’m not sure the reason for the increase. Just a lot of catching up I guess.
I almost feel like Superman was a filler episode this week. Then again, when Superman does the filler episode, they still do it right. We’re getting some linking material to bridge between the first part of the season and the next – getting to really know John Henry Iirons, and seeing some of lois’s neuroses in the bargain. We get a good perspective on what it’s like to be the unpowered part of this family – not just her, but for Jonathan as well. It’s good stuff and actually gives us a lot of Superman rather than just Clark. I’m actually really digging this.
No new episode of the flash this week, but I did manage to catch up with the new installment of the Food that made America. This week they are focusing on the invention of the chicken nugget. That I get, it’s actually kind of cool. I’m at just the right age to remember this being new and cool and an interesting innovation. On the other hand, the same episode demonstrated that the egg McMuffin was first introduced in 1976. That means I’m older than the Egg McMuffin… And I don’t think I’m OK with that.
My youngest daughter came to me and requested LEGO Masters. That’s right, the series has started up again, and this was actually a big family favorite for us last year. Will Arnett (better known as Lego Batman) is still chewing the scenery and we’ve got an interesting cast this year. There’s one couple that reminds the kids very much of their grandparents, and I think that’s going to be the family favorite this year. If you haven’t watched the series, it’s worth your while to look it up. I’m not a Lego guy, but I kind of wish I was. It’s the sort of interesting creation play that appeals to me, but requires a certain level of dedication and focus that I lack. It’s amazing to see what they create, and while I doubt that will talk much more about that in future columns, you can rest assured that we’re gonna be glued to the television for the next 15 weeks or so for this series.
But the real thing I wanted to talk about, was the Friends reunion. I know, I don’t necessarily look like a Friends guy… I’m really not. For me, must see TV was Seinfeld, and Friends with just kind of the thing that came on after it. Nevertheless, like everybody of a certain age, I have long memories of the show and the reunion was genuinely interesting. I always had certain problems with the show, I was felt like Rachel treated Ross like garbage, and was pleased to discover in the reunion, that everybody agreed… They were on a break!
I always understood the chemistry between the cast and how perfectly they were each seated for their roles, but I came away with a greater appreciation for your physical comedy and the relationships developed… Brilliant to find out that there was a genuine attraction between Schwimer in Aniston… (who very much looks like she’s had a face lift around the eyes…) and how that translated on screen. It was fascinating to hear the casting decisions, but more than anything I came away with a greater appreciation for Matt Leblanc. Look, Joey was always one of my favorite characters, he’s what I wish I was instead of being a Chandler. But the thing is, watching this reunion, watching these interviews, of all the actors there he comes across as the most… earnest. He’s genuine. Everyone else is still themselves, but they’re their own Hollywood selves. Matt Leblanc on the other hand, seems to give no care. I appreciate the fact that the dude has let himself go gray, and let his gut come out, the man has no pretension and it’s so refreshing. He’s really on here, and just seems so happy to be back with everyone. Of all the cast here, he’s the one I’d like to sit down and just hang out with. I have so much more respect for him now… And quite frankly, I’m one of those guys who still kevtch about the fact that he got passed over in favor of Keanu Reeves for the Matrix.
One of the most insightful things though that I really heard tonight, was listening to Lisa Kudrow talk about how if there was ever be any sort of sequel, any sort of a continuation,… The thing is they left everybody in such a good place. We knew they were safe, we knew that their lives were going forward in a good place. To create any sort of continuation would necessitate unraveling all that… And who wants to do that? I saw the producers nodding in agreement. It was really their words spoken through her mouth, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s talk of a Night Court reboot these days, and I’m horrified. Night Court is my absolute favorite sitcom of all time, and I don’t wanna see it rebooted. It ended with everybody in good places (no mean trick since they only got word that they were cancelled a few weeks earlier and had to scramble to cobble together a half hearted series finale), and I don’t see where retreading that all the ground ever produces something worthwhile. I want to live with my good memories, and the people who created Friends are wise enough to do that. This is a good way to handle it. It’s nice to see everybody back together again, and in some ways it makes me nostalgic for a time that never really existed. I’m certain I haven’t seen every episode of friends. In fact, I probably haven’t seen most of them. I dropped off when I went to college, along with all my other television… And it was right around this time that the show really pissed me off with the way that Rachel is treating Ross anyhow. But it’s still an undeniable cultural phenomenon and this sort of behind the scenes, reunion, memoir storytelling is always exactly my kind of thing. Absolutely worth watching if you got access to HBO max. It’s probably even more worthwhile watching if one of your friends has access to HBO max and will let you come over and hang out for a couple hours.
Week of March 24th
I was looking back through old posts and noticed my initial reviews of Superman and Lois. There’s a lot of hesitancy there. A lot of trepidation. There’s also a definite hope that this will develop into something genuinely good. I’m pleased to say that it has. It really has.
We got a bombshell reveal this week that had jaws on the floor. Every friend I know who watched this absolutely lost their mind. The show really understands how to introduce characters from the mythology in unexpected ways. Moreover, the character development with Jon and Jordan continues to be strong. We see Jordan struggling with his powers, with the sensory overload that comes with being a kryptonian. This comes in to play later as the episodes MacGuffin, and allows him and his brother to team up to save their dad. It’s all great stuff, and I’m constantly surprised. It’s almost as if somebody at the CW sent out a memo asking if “we could make a show not suck for a change?” It’s turned into the best iteration of Superman on screen since the Justice League cartoon.
Speaking of extraordinary television that I was hesitant about… Did anybody catch High Fidelity on Hulu?
I should hate this show. I should absolutely be frustrated by it’s very existence. It’s all the diversity checkboxes; we’ve got race swapped characters, we’ve got a gender swap, we’ve got a gay person, all wrapped up in a remake that was completely unnecessary. This thing should be awful.
I am beside myself at how good it is.
Admittedly, a lot of this has to do with Zoe Kravitz. She takes this role and in many ways makes it her own. There’s still the inherent slacker vibe with a dash of nihilism that we got from John Cusack, but there’s something else going on here too. Cusack manages to make dumpy ironic clothes look trashy. Kravitz makes dumpy trashy clothes look cutting edge fashionable. It’s effortless. The show is messy, and the characters are complex. We can see some of the performances from the film there… But they really end up just being baselines. They end up almost as if they were first draft.
There’s a wisdom here in splitting up the Marie Disalle character into two different male love interests for Zoe‘s character of Rob. As if they are stripping different elements of her to create greater tension and a more complex intrigue. We hit all the beats, and it’s really fun to hear Zoe’s Robin speak some of the same lines as John Cusack‘s Rob… because they’re delivered so differently and yet it all feels perfect. I almost wish they diverge to more from the source material, because I feel like she’s an entirely get enough chance to shine.
High Fidelity is in fact, one of my top five all-time favorite films. This shockingly does it great justice in an alternate reality sort of way. I’d actually love to see a conversation at the bar between John Cusack’s Rob and Zoe Kravitz’s Rob. I think they’d hate each other.
There was talk of a second season but it went nowhere. This infuriates some of my friends, but watching the series, I feel like they knew it was coming. They left it not quite open ended… They tied up all the loose strings but left a few pass open if they wanted to pick it back up. Nevertheless, they also managed a sense of conclusion and personality that is surprisingly satisfying. No mean trick that.
So after all of that, it’s going to sound weird that I don’t have a lot to say about the flash. It’s still solid, although I almost feel like this week, we ended their whole war of light storyline… And even the beast story, a bunch of villains breaking out from iron Heights, along with killer Frost, feels like it was wrapped up. Wrapped up clumsily at that… As if they were rushing to close the season. We’re only halfway through though, so why is this I feel so much like a season finale?
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.
Week of 3-22-21
Falcon and the Winter Soldier continues to be a solid series. The weekly format works much better this time around than it did with Wandavision. It’s a much more straightforward action series and delivers what it’s promised.
The new Captain America suit is growing on me, though I still miss the white stripes on the comic version. John Walker himself is being set up to be fairly unlikable – a little shmoozy and weak. He has all the physical training and all the necessary courage, but none of the leadership or charisma. Still, I’m familiar with this storyline from the comics so I wasn’t gasping in horror the way a lot of other fans were during the reveal last week. What I found really funny though, was that I was okay with him taking the name. And the shield. But there’s this bit where he jumps into action and they play the Captain America theme from the films….THAT bothered me. That orchestral sting just didn’t belong to him! It feels wrong!
I’m still waiting for the buddy comedy with Falcon and Bucky. We haven’t really gotten there yet. Admittedly, in a normal three act buddy cop film, the characters spend the first act as rivals, the second as uneasy allies who fall out at the end, then the last act is them coming together as a team and friends. This is a six hour mini-series….not a 90 minuet film. But if they are pacing it the same way, we’re just at the end of the first act….even though it took three times as long to get there. I’m willing to ride this out and see where it goes.
Elsewhere, and earlier in the week, there was a moment from the beginning of episode five of Superman and Lois that really struck me. Lois is talking about Smallville’s annual harvest festival.
“Your dad learned a lot about giving and helping people in need from this… He’s not just super man because he has powers.”They get it. I don’t believe it, but they actually get it!
Incognito superman work at the beginning here as well… And this is actually really smart. Clark and Superman always seem to have the same friends, it’s always one of the things that strains credulity. I’m glad they are dealing with that here.
Despite having a monster of the week, this episode actually really feels more like a transitional one. Not filler per se, because we need a lot of the stuff we see here – filling out of Jordan‘s relationship both with his brother and his not-girlfriend (By the way, that’s a tough role to play. This kid is doing an admirable job balancing the nervous character without making him an unlikable spaz or a whiny child) we get a lot of flashbacks of Clark’s youth in Smallville and him coming into his powers, as well as a very welcome return and Captain Luther. It’s been a while and I’d almost forgotten about you.
But you know, here’s the thing. Even when it’s one of these individual episodes that doesn’t really push the bigger season arc much, there’s still good stuff. The relationship stuff between the brothers, between father and son it’s just all really good.
I’m pleased to say that much as I’d hoped, the Flash is kind of getting itself back on track. This weeks episode was very much a normal superhero romp, with the return of abracadabra. Sure there’s still some people in hallways talking about feelings going on… Especially as Iris is trying to write the story of her time in the mirror universe and other people are getting together in a support group for folks who had been mirrored, but the focus was really on the battle with Abra Kadabra.
Our bad guy has an interesting motivation this time around as well, because he’s coping with the reality shift that occurred after crisis, the flash is been the best place to explore these kind of issues, and it works really well in this episode. I got more than enough time with Barry in the suit, and plenty of running and punching to balance out the talking and reasoning. There’s a reason why the flash has managed to keep going all this time, it is a genuinely good superhero show this is a really nice return the form.
So my friend Bobbie and I were talking a little bit about David Tennant and Michael Sheen‘s show Staged. It’s a sort of zoom sitcom, where the two are talking to each other against the backdrop of certain events… The establishment of a stage show, or the show itself being sold to America. It’s eight episodes and a half hour each and the second season just dropped. It’s enormous fun. It’s the sort of buddy comedy but I think people are really craving right now. Sheen and tenant are having great fun together, familiar faces that you just kind of want to like in the first place. It’s nice to see Georgia Tennant as well, it’s been a while since I’ve seen her on screen although she does occasionally pop up in David’s podcast.
While the first season was fairly low-key with only one or two guests, this second season everybody seems to be jumping on board. The show is already pretty meta, being a zoom meeting and the characters playing versions themselves. This time around were taking that even further, because it while it’s still a zoom meeting, and they’re still playing versions of them selves, the entire story is about how staged is being remade and sold to the American audiences… And who might be playing David and Michael. It’s hilarious. They use this conceit as an excuse to bring an all manner of guest stars from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, to Ewan McGregor to Jim Parsons… It’s a fairly endless list and each episode surprises you with who shows up
The other great revelation in the show is Whoopi Goldberg, playing David and Michael‘s agent. Can I just say something? It’s been a long time since Whoopi has been funny. Not that she’s lost the ability, she just hasn’t done anything that I’ve really enjoyed. A lot of times comedic actors get to a stage in their career when they wanna dip their toe in two more serious fare. Once Whoopi did that, she just kind of vanished from the comedy scene, and while I’m glad to have things like the Color Purple and Star Trek the next generation, I think the last decade and a half of her career has really been defined by her time on the View, with her as a political personality rather than a comedian… And I think we’re poorer for that. Whoopee is leaning into the cranky old broad character, and doing a brilliant job as the tough as nails agent. It is a joy to watch her yell at David and Michael. It is so much fun to watch her be funny again, and it makes me miss the days of her doing films like Burglar, and Jumping Jack flash.
Bobbie and I were chatting a bit and she kept wondering why she liked this show so much…. I think I’ve got it. It’s a nice lighthearted comedy, with no current year politics, no agenda, it’s just fun. They’re just trying to be entertaining. They’re not trying to push a message, they’re not trying to sneak in a narrative, it’s just a fun buddy comedy… And I think we really are looking for something Like this. After a day of pushing through the Snyder cut, this was a breeze to blow through. It actually ended too soon.
Staged is currently on Hulu, and if you haven’t caught the show yet I can’t recommend it enough.
Week of 3/14/21
“I need to drink about this a lot more”
“Don’t you mean….”
“I said what I said.”
I really feel like I need a copy of Disenchantment on DVD or Blu, because it’s just too loony to survive and I don’t trust Netflix to keep it on forever. It’s just a delight to watch and I feel weird that I prefer this to Futurama, but whatever. When Richard Ayoade showed up in episode four I just about plotzed. I totally want to spend my next vacation in dead monksburg.
“Someone get the Princess a six pack.”
Superman and Lois actually continues to impress and get even better. There is an astonishing emphasis on fatherhood in this show which I absolutely adore. There is a lot more football though than Superman… And that criticism doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon! We had an interesting villain this week… At least we had him for five or 10 minutes. He brought back Dr. Killgrave, a mad scientist type from the comics, a C-lister at best but a nice little Easter egg for Superman fans. Whenever I hear about him, I can’t help but think about the Jerry Ordway cover with him in the robotic bulldozer.
I’m also intrigued by the role they have cast General Sam Lane in. He acts kind of as a liaison between Superman and the government or the army. I was never a big fan of this in Supergirl, and my first inclination is to kind of be annoyed by here as well, but it’s not entirely unheard of. If you’ve ever read the excellent Superman : Secret Identity miniseries (it’s an elseworlds thing, but one of the best ones) They actually propose a similar situation, where there is a contact and Superman sometimes cooperates with the government… mostly to keep them off his back – trying to kidnap him and throw himin a tank of fiendish green liquid, and dissect him or whatever. It makes sense, and I am willing to concede this small bit of CW formula and darkness because there’s a lot of other things going on in the show. It’s a thrill to see Clark be a father to his sons, something that they’re really contrasting with the way General Lane raised Lois.
Speaking of Lois by the way, with every episode she solidifies further in my mind as the definitive Lois Lane. It’s brilliant the way they show her drive… She’s going to be a journalist in Smallville just as much as she was in Metropolis. It kind of shows that this is who she is, this is what compels her. It’s actually a nice mirror of Clark in that Superman, even without the powers would still have been all about trying to help people… He just would’ve had to go about it a different way. Lois, even without the Metropolitan setting in the high power connections is still going to fight for the voiceless in the best way she knows how.
There’s a great line in this episode as well, where Lana is having a drink with Lois, and she describes the real change that she saw in Clark after he moved to Metropolis. More confidence, he stood up straighter, he really grew up. Then she looks at Lois and says and she gets exactly where that comes from. You made him a better man.
I love this. It is a way of showing Lois‘s strength and brilliance, that builds up both her and Clark at the same time. We spent so much time in popular media where, to build the woman up as smart and strong, they have to tear their male counterpart down… It’s a really common trope in family sitcoms that always drove me nuts. The fact that they are accomplishing the same goal, building Lois up as a quality female character, but doing so in a way that also builds up her male costars, it’s just so refreshing and rare that I feel a real need to call it out.
Indeed the rest of the media seems to be taking note. I saw a new article over at the AV club talking about how Superman on TV is the hero we need right now. That comes hot on the heels of last week’s article in the Los Angeles Times. I’m always pleased when the press finally gets it, but at the same time I’m equal parts frustrated because they seem so shocked that this works. The thing is, as we move further away from the 1950s, apple pie, baseball, truth and justice and the American way, as we move further into a more cynical post modern era, we crave these kind of aspirational and pure characters even more… not less. We start with Captain America, heck we see it in the Mandalorian even… The driving appeal of that series isn’t the cool Boba Fett armor, it’s not even the cute Baby Yoda. The moments that consistently move people to tears are the ones where Mando is being a father to Baby Yoda. There’s a hunger for that, and I give Superman and Lois enormous props for taking the steam and running with it.
It’s bringing in the viewers too, Superman and Lois set streaming records as well as being a ratings juggernaut, not only on broadcast, but also setting records in streaming and I have no idea what the CW is going to do when they replace it with the final season of Supergirl next month….swaping Superman and Lois with it’s 3.2 million viewers for Supergirl with it’s mere half a million or so viewers. *sigh*
I’m not entirely certain what I’m watching with the Flash. So, the Flash lost his speed again? We’re getting Wells back again? Wait, no. Wells is going away again? And Iris was in a coma, but was woken up by this weeks deus ex machina just in time to help get Barry’s speed back again, again? It feels like a muddled mess, like a rewrite on some of the old Half produced episodes from last year, but they couldn’t afford to get rid of footage so we get this weird duplication of themes from episode to episode.
I will say, when we do get a superhero antics, it’s spectacular. Actually, I think Superman and Lois could learn a trick or two in the flash when it comes to setting up the superhero battles… And I’m loving Vibe’s new costume. I like that the power is technical and not necessarily inside him… it’s not canon to the comics, but the Cisco Ramon on the show is a very different character than the one I’m used to seeing in the comics. I actually kind of like him better on TV!
You may remember some hubub last year when Hartley Sawyer, who plays Ralph Dinby, the Elongated Man, got himself canceled over old tweets. I think they are still tying up loose ends from the previous season, so they needed him around to at least give him a somewhat organic exit. They use some bizarre methods to bring Elongated Man back … With a melted face and then later on, A regeneration helmet that I bet will change his appearance so they can recast the character… But for the moment, they’re shipping him and Sue off the show to go on their own adventures offscreen while they figure out if they can bring the character back in some way shape or form.
Falcon and Winter Soldier also premiered, and I think I was actually looking forward to this one more than WandaVision. This series promised to be more of a straight up superhero show, and I was in particular looking forward to the introduction of John Walker, USAgent.
My first impressions were that they finally got Falcon right. The thing is, I always felt like the studio thought they needed to use him, but had no idea how. There’s already too many people in funny costumes in the Avengers movies, and Sam always got lost in the crowd. This time around they finally given him a proper outfit… Even back in the 80s, the red and white scheme on his suit really appealed to me, and I’m glad they’re finally leaning into it. They also get more into the dynamics, the tech, and the combat. It’s all something that we really needed from this character, and I’m glad to see them finally doing him justice.
Sebastian Stan is a welcome face as well. In fact, that’s really what this feels like. a family reunion with old friends. They start his scenes off with a flashback to the Winter Soldier days, and it’s comforting to see that costume and that actor. Yeah, comforting I think is indeed the word. It’s comfort food. Familiar and safe, with just a touch of new.
We’re getting to see more of the Falcons family, a destitute fishing clan in an area that’s been devastated by the events of Endgame. we se how that affects the mundane, things like credit scores and financial impacts. It’s a good hook, and one that you really couldn’t have done within the confines of a film. I am looking forward to see where this goes. I’m not expecting greatness. I’m not expecting cutting edge or revolutionary television, but good superhero fair with an underlining foundation of drama? Yeah. This definitely hits all those notes.
Elsewhere, I keep hearing about something new dropping this week… Something about Justice Cuts Zack or something? I can’t quite remember the name.
Never mind. probably it wasn’t that important anyhow… I’m sure it’ll come to me…
Week of March 7th
It’s interesting, the flash this year almost feels like The Flash’s big theme is “let’s see how many different kind of rolls Grant Gustin can play”. “Let’s stretch his range”. It’s as if he’s been watching Harrison Wells have too much fun with these different personas and it’s Barry’s turn now!
We do start off with some attractive people in the hall talking about their feelings… Most specifically talking about how sad they are that Wells is gone. I suppose this is appropriate, although our last scene shows that he might not be quite as gone as it seems! I’m eager to see where the shenanigans go later.
Barry however has gotten his speed back, and a new side effect! Speed thinking. This actually came in to play in the comics with impulse/kid flash, but has never really been explored it here on the TV show. They start off playing it for laughs, but it soon becomes a little sinister. Barry’s lost his emotions, and it’s an interesting look. Kind of the Flash if he were Batman.
It’s still feels though like we’re very much in the middle of a story arc, and the episode suffers a little bit from middle child syndrome. It’s less an adventure of it’s own, and more part of a serialized story. The equilibrium feels off on the show, and I’m hoping that they get their groove back soon. Still, I’m enjoying seeing the gang all back.
Superman and Lois on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have nearly as much attractive people talking in hallways about their feelings, it’s there, but more of it is teen angst than it is CW soap opera. They did have the best line of the week… “Do you drive a station wagon that’s currently on fire?”.
If I have any real complaints about the show though, it’s not there’s just not enough Superman. We get two good Set pieces with him, but for the most part it’s Clark and the kids. Not that this is it all bad, I actually happen to be every bit as fan of Clark Kent as I am of Superman… But the show is called Superman and Lois and I kind of miss seeing the red cape more. There’s a lot going on with the kids though, and they’re trying to build up a supporting cast. This is in enormously important in a Superman story… One of the things that really makes the Superman stories in Metropolis charming is Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, even the lesser supporting characters like cat Grant, Bibbo, and Dr. Hamilton. If the show really wants to succeed it’s going to have to build a strong supporting cast. Good news is, they seem to be on their way there. I’m not even really missing the old supporting characters… Perry White had obviously retired, and we know that Jimmy Olsen had moved to where ever it is Supergirl lives. The natural progression of the story has helped immensely… Indeed, I recall Brian Singer complaining that he didn’t know how to handle Superman. He used to complain that because Clark was invulnerable, the only way you could hurt him was emotionally. I don’t know if I subscribe to that. But if that’s the direction you want to go, the writers on Superman and Lois have figured it out. They’re playing on Clark’s own insecurities as a father and the general tough job of raising teenagers. It makes him emotionally vulnerable, and it makes him surprisingly human. You don’t need to make him a deadbeat dad the way singer did in Superman Returns, you don’t need him to be a creepy stalker spying on his ex-girlfriend and her new fiancé from the sky. Singer’s attempts at emotionally compromising Superman damaged the character, it made him into a loser, a jerk. Whereas the emotional beats and vulnerability that they are showing Superman and Lois, actually elevate Clark Kent… And I think make him more of a hero. I’m really enjoying what I’m seeing here, and I really hope that this Continues to stay the course with this level of quality. I’ll gladly put up with the sulking teenagers to have some quality Superman!
By the way, I mentioned Disenchantment a couple weeks ago. It continues to delight. I almost get the impression that Netflix just didn’t care anymore and were just fulfilling contractual obligations….and that they aren’t paying attention, because this show is getting weird. It’s more out there than previously, but it works. The episode we watched this week involved a psychotic unicorn, a trouser thief, Zog with PSTD and acting slightly undead and the marriage of the prince to a geriatric fairy named “Saggy”.
I can not recommend this enough.
This weeks picks
Superman and Lois continues to be good. The social justice rears its head here and there, mostly in Lois‘s complaints about Morgan Edge and a living wage… But really, it’s minor. It’s the sort of little jab that we would be perfectly content to ignore in a less polarized age, and I’m not gonna let that distract from my enjoyment of seeing Superman return to television. I am a little perplexed about Morgan Edge though… We’ve had him already in the arrow verse, specifically a we’ve had him already in the arrowverse, specifically in the excellent first season of Supergirl. I’m wondering how we’re getting a second iteration of the character when Superman and Lois is firmly planted in both Supergirl and The Flash‘s world… Perhaps we can just blame it on the crisis.
They are throwing in some fun stuff like multiple suits and time at the Fortress of Solitude. All that stuff is a big winner with me and it makes me very happy that I bought the black Superman figure when I went out to the toy Ohio show a couple weeks ago!
I also have to give them props for the courage to make there a big bad guy not just a minority, but also that they’re making him an original character instead of just race-swapping the most obvious candidate. They’re actually giving him some depth and an interesting backstory and there’s enough here to keep me intrigued, wondering where this whole thing is going to go. I’m pleased to see it’s renewed for a second season, and I have no complaints. It’s still fine, but here’s hoping that it becomes great.
Speaking of the arrow verse, the flash returned this week as well. I’ve got to say, it’s an embarrassment of riches to have Superman, the flash and WandaVision all new in one week.
I’ve mentioned recently though, that The Flash is kind of running out of steam. It’s still watchable, and it’s still enjoyable, but they’re running out of interesting stuff to do, and the cracks are beginning to show. It was unfortunately cut short last season because of the pandemic, so I was quite eager to see it return… A full 11 months later.
Glad he didn’t though. The new costume is really good.
DREAD PIRATE LEAVEO!
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?
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.