So, I finally caught up on Stargirl, and got through the first five episodes over the weekend. It’s a show that I watch with my teenage daughter, so schedules frequently don’t mash and I’m perpetually behind. Even now, I’m a single episode behind… That is until the new one premieres tonight!
Stargirl was really the highlight of my television last year. Not only are you pretty much guaranteed to get my attention by invoking and flashing back to golden age DC with characters in the Justice Society,, but it’s also just generally good rollicking superhero fun, heavy on characterization and action, and light on ideology… Sort of the opposite of what the CW’s pattern has increasingly been. Courtney, Stargirl herself is a good character, but even more daring is the fact that instead of going through the bad Dad trope, they actually explore her complex relationship with her stepfather, played by Luke Wilson who steals every scene he’s in. There is resentment there but there’s also some genuine affection there, with a Dad who’s just trying to do the best he can, and isn’t portrayed as bumbling or stupid… But perhaps a little overwhelmed sometimes.
After defeating the Injustice Society last year, series kind of has to start fresh this year, and giving it the whole “Summer School“ hook was a delightful idea. It probably would’ve worked better if the show had managed to premier back in July or so, but I understand that the plague has wreaked havoc on shooting schedules so I’m willing to give them a little slack… Especially when the end result is as fun as this.
The evil daughter Shiv is back, trying to rebuild her parent’s Injustice Society with the kids of the original members. Obviously, that’s going to be the main baddie this year, right? Except there’s something awfully familiar about the black crystal that she’s using and channeling for power. The first episode opens with one of the creepiest little kid sequences I’ve seen in a long time, and even my daughter immediately realized… Eclipso was coming. The Shade also arrives this season as well. The Shade’s been a regular villain when it comes to this legacy, I’ve just finished reading James Robinson‘s excellent Starman run from the 90s, and the Shade is all over that thing. True to form, he’s a villain, but sometimes he’s not… Again, complex. Serious props for challenging writing here.
In the meantime, the gang is all back, and facing their own issues. Hourman still feels isolated and is feeding something that I suspect is Solomon Grundy related in the woods. Dr. Midnight is dealing with her parents divorce, and Wildcat is still trying to reconcile the fact that she killed Brainwave Junior. I know that’s a lot of gobbledygook to throw at you all at once, but it’s genuinely good stuff and propels the whole series developing forward. Despite this, there’s actually a noticeable lack of attractive people standing in hallways talking about their feelings. It’s still there, but not nearly as present as in say, The Flash.
Once we hit episode five though… remember how in the last third of Superman and Lois, it seems like every episode I was saying “this feels like a season finale cliffhanger… Or a penultimate episode right before the season finale“. Stargirl goes right ahead and does it in episode five, with a face off of the new injustice society versus the justice society which results in Eclipso being freed. And man, Eclipso does not disappoint. The make up and look is dead on, increased in detail for television, and every bit as terrifying as I remember him from those crossovers in the mid 90s. It’s shockingly effective. I guess that means I really got a find a good way to bribe Maddie to sit down and catch up on last week and this weeks episode… Because I’m dying to know what happens. Perhaps if I bribe her with more episodes of He-Man…
What if continues to be the strongest of all the marvel television series. Perhaps it’s because it’s not truly bound to continuity (yes, I know some stupid editor said “it’s all in continuity”. That’s not really the case, even if you rationalize multiverse nonsense.) but also because it very much feels like episodic MCU. Really, that’s what the movies have been trying to do for a while now, but to get it chopped up and served in bite size half hour portions every week, with different elements of the MCU, played by the same people and featuring the same look in environments… It’s actually really satisfying.
I once said I prefer Doctor Strange in other peoples movies rather than his own, I’m beginning to wonder after his What If episode, if it’s just that I prefer him in smaller doses. What if Doctor Strange lost his heart instead of his hands actually feels like it could be its own standalone thing within continuity, if they just tweak the end. It’s actually a nice visit with a good doctor in that world, and takes some chances with some of the dark themes it uses. Of course it’s not nearly as dark as Marvel Zombies. My daughter is a huge fan of marvel zombies, she’s collected all the comics, and this is actually the episode they got her into What If. I agree with her assessment, Watching this episode just makes me want an animated marvel zombies series on it’s own. It’s that good. It captures an interesting variety of heroes from different films, and while there’s a decision with the vision that I don’t entirely agree with, it’s really nice to see Tom Holland’s Spider-Man here, as well as getting to see Doctor Strange’s cape, with it’s own distinct personality, acting on its own again. That of course brings us to last weeks episode… A little bit of light-hearted fun before things get serious in the last two. What if Thor never had the maturing influence of a rival like Loki… and had just essentially grown up to be a giant frat boy. I feel like I should take some offense of this, but it’s so much fun and has us laughing so much through it… Also it manages to feature Howard the Duck, and Darcy; two of my favorite characters in the MCU. Can we please get a Howard the Duck series? Put it on right after the marvel zombies series… That’s all I’m asking!
It’s been a fun week, and if you get tired of superhero stuff, pop over to Netflix… There is a new season of nailed it up there, which is the most entertaining (if a bit mean-spirited) baking show you’ll ever see.
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.
All I can say about The Flash is that I really wish it had started off the season this strong. The whole Godspeed War they’ve got going on has been really good stuff. Even though we’re going back to the kind of tired old trope of Barry losing his speed, this show feels dangerous again. I’m enjoying it. Throwing Diggle in for an episode also brings back some of that magic from that original Arrow crossover. With Arrow being over, any further crossover seemed as impossible as it did when the Flash first started. Nice to see Diggs again, and to keep the Arrow flame burning.
The surprise this week though, what is Loki. It’s the first episode of the series that’s really grabbed me and held onto my attention The whole way through. We’ve got multiple variants this week, along with consistent action, and a lot less needless exposition. Oh they still talk, it’s just that when they do it’s actually there to move the story along. Also, Alligator Loki is superior to all other locations. Much like the Flash, I wish the series had started out this good, running along at this pace. Considering how short this run is going to be, it really needed to kickstart itself right off the gate, and it kind of didn’t do that. If it had, I would’ve probably been an instant devotee, instead of reluctantly jumping on the bandwagon at this late date.
So. Who went out to see Black Widow this weekend?
With no Superman and Lois last week it was up to the Flash to pick up the slack – and it did with a vengeance! The episode opens with Barry dreaming of his dead future daughter (Look, either you’re watching the show or you aren’t. I’m not explaining that one for you!), just before team Flash is drawn into a conflict with an army of Godspeeds. I know the show has been derailed by the plague, but it’s kind of been dilly dallying all season and this is the first time I’ve really felt stakes. It’s a great episode that grabs you and holds your attention all the way to the shocking cliffhanger. It’s a good reminder of why I’ve stuck with the show for so long, when all the other CW shows have fallen away.
Loki on the other hand….
I do not get this show. All of my friends tell me it’s the best thing since sliced bread, but I’m bored out of my mind. I’m still convinced that this was originally conceived as a film that they just filled out. 2/3rds of every episode is just talk- info dumps, and the frequent favorite, attractive people sitting in offices talking about their feelings (as opposed to the CW model where the attractive people talk about their feelings in HALLWAYS). This sort of stuff works when there’s a good “B” storyline to shift to, but this…..it’s ALL the “B” storyline. We get a plot point or two dropped in each episode, but this thing just moves so slow, it’s infuriating, and survives entirely on it’s brevity and on Tom Hiddleston’s charm. I only hope Hiddleston makes it to the end (He’s booked for all six episodes, despite the cliffhanger last week). I’m not certian he will – it’s just too tempting in this current political climate to swap him out with Lady Loki as the main version of the character in the new MsheU. Sophia Di Martino is perfectly fine in the role of the variant doppelganger, but she’s no Tom Hiddleston.
AND WHAT OF MISS MINUETS???
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
TV is starting up again, it’s slow – we are still waiting for iZombie and Supergirl, but it’s starting definitely. Last week’s Promo for Legends of Tomorrow left me a little cold, but I really loved the showcase of the new DC cinematic universe. It got the girls excited to – they had no interest in Wonder Woman and were on the fence about Suicide Squad until they saw this. It really does make me excited for what’s coming up on the films, but I’ve said it before, where DC is really killing it is on TV. They’re creating a brilliant shared universe there, and one that I’m far more interested in then there cinematic one.
Mind you, I’m fully aware that Arrow came first – but I don’t really watch Arrow as much as I probably should – it’s hard for me to get in to. The Flash is a far more accessible show, better rounded and more engaging for me.
The Wally West story has been genuinely interesting. I like when its going, although I’m having a hard time with Wally been kind of – unlikeable. I’m sure that will change, but I miss the funny more lighthearted Wally that became my favourite flash in the comics. Still, the return of Reverse Flash and everything that is happening since the show has returned to TV for the rest of the season has really worked, dead on.
I’ve heard nothing bad about Legends, a lot of my friends are really into it, and completely on-board. I’m not so sure I am. It wasn’t bad mind you – it wasn’t bad at all. It was a very smart thing they did, setting this up over the course of a year across two different television series – when we finally got all the characters assembled it felt like visiting with old friends. This really is DC television’s version of the Avengers. The problem is, it wasn’t spectacular. The Avengers was mind blowing, this was merely okay. It was fun to watch these characters, but really I feel like I’m watching it because it’s got the DC logo in the top corner – and not because of its own merits. I’m not sure that I would be into this as much if it were a DC show, and that bothers me – it also makes me wonder if I’m going to be able to stay with it. A television show has to be pretty spectacular for me to remember to sit down in front of the TV and a certain time every week – I managed to hold on with both Arrow and Agents of SHIELD for about two or three weeks, until I started forgetting when it was on and fell behind and never caught up again. The Flash captured my imagination from the very first time I watched it – admittedly that was six months after the original premiere, but nevertheless I was on board immediately and haven’t missed an episodesense. Legends needs to improve dramatically for it to inspire that kind of loyalty from me, and I think it might – the ending left me wanting more, and anticipating the next episode that this may be a DVR.
There’s some really good stuff here though. I love the costumes- Firestorm has one of the best versions of that costume I’ve seen, and I was actually a big fan of the way the series relaunched in 2006, and that seems to be a lot of what they are pulling from. I’ve always been a fan of what Gerry Conway created in Firestorm. One of my earliest comics was a Firestorm that guest-starred the JLA, and it’s been a real treat to see this in live action. There were times that I found the Ronny version a little lacking, but even still, I was loving it. This current incarnation though, it’s just perfect. The interaction between Professor Stein and Jefferson just works. These two have real chemistry with each other and really capitalizes on the dynamic of the age difference, something that was missing from the slightly overaged Ronny Raymond version (He was much younger in the comics).
Can we also talk about the Atom? I personally liked Brandon Routh as Superman, but for all the haters out there, you HAVE to admit he’s way more than redeemed himself and is absolutely KILLING it as the Atom. I love this suit too. I know it took a lot of flack at first for being a poor man’s Iron man, but really, once you see this overeager puppy dog personality that Routh is giving out, it’s obvious, this is as far from Iron Man as anyone could get. Seriously, I think I may have to build a copy of this suit for myself.
I’ll definitely be back for more of this, and I want to see what happens with it.
In other news, no new Doctor Who until Christmas 2016. Looks like the TV category on the blog is going to get a lot thinner…