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Posts tagged “The CW

Week of 9-22-22

I finally did it! I finally got around to catching up on Stargirl! I’m not sure why I dropped off exactly… I know that Maddie wasn’t really interested in watching it much anymore, but honestly, I thought I Was way further behind than this. There were only four episodes left in the Summer School season, and maybe it’s just because we’re at the climax, but wow, did they deliver.

So, where were we? Eclipse it was free, he’d blasted shiv into oblivion, and was now in the process of haunting each of the JSA members. That’s not too big of a problem, because they’re each dealing with her own baggage. Yolanda still has guilt over killing Brainwave Jr, Beth is watching her parents marriage fall apart, and her only solace is the slight contact she’s managed to get with the original Doctor Midnight. Hourman’s hourglass is broken, and for some reason he’s developing a bond with Solomon Grundy… All of this is fertile ground for Eclipso to work in. Nevertheless, they manage to come together to try and defeat a clip so… And the process, Stargirl is blasted away. It’s pretty shocking, considering how close to the end of the series we are… But we discover that what’s happened is she’s been banished to a shadow realm. a sort of purgatory where Eclipso can toy with her and others, to feed off their negative emotions. It turns out, Shiv is also there… As well as Dr. Midnight. With the help of the shade end guidance from Dr. Midnights goggles, Courtney’s parents managed to rescue them, and heading for the final showdown.

It’s really good, really well done. The characters are rich and complex, and current politics, while sneaking in around the edges, are kept to a minimum… Kind of feels like the good old days.

With that finished, it’s time to move from the summer school season into the Frenemies season. I don’t know if this will be a full 22 episode run or another 13… I have to admit, doing the 13 episode runs has really worked for stalker all. It’s giving them just enough time to do what they need without bogging everything down with filler.

If I have any real complaint about the Frenemies season… It’s that they’re building it as a murder mystery, but the title doesn’t feel congruent with it. Frenemies is a very high school kind of term, well this is leaning heavily into the sort of Agatha Christie murder mystery milieu. On the other hand, it makes sense because the beast storyline is an exploration of whether or not villains can really change… Whether they can truly reform and become allies. This is a very superman take. I pointed this out both and superman and early Supergirl… That part of what they want to do is take the bad guys, find them and fix them… Maybe turn them into friends instead of enemies. Courtney’s cut very much from that same sort of mold… Really trying to embrace shiv and incorporate her into the justice society. Of course sports master and his wife have also moved in right next-door to her, complicating things more than a little bit. Artemis also wants a spot on the GSA… And let’s just say, her mother is quite insistent. Hon

She Hulk on the other hand is a whole different story.

I gotta tell you, it almost feels like a chore watching the show now. Like, I don’t want to give up considering how far into the season we are, and I’ve managed to stick it out this far… But the show is just such a disappointment. This week sees Jen at a wedding, and it really reinforces the whole victim complex that she constantly revels in. Everybody’s mean to her, nobody’s nice except for her… Course the fact that she gets raging drunk and then gets into a fight with a super villain… Well that’s not her fault. Titania hit her first right? Of course back in the B storyline, the assistant and the lawyer from last week are taking over her current case… A “mister immortal“ who can’t die… So he gets married to unsuspecting people, then once he’s gotten what he wants financially or if it just starts to go to Dale, he dies, which terminates the marriage contract, and then comes back to life. It’s one of these stories that you could almost watch them going down a checklist. Seriously, it’s custom made… A “men are bad“ story with room to display a conveniently diverse group of ex-wives… And one ex-husband. Everyone’s different ethnicity, and everyone has a different beef… And it’s just so intentionally politically correct that it knocks you right out of the story. If it had been a group of white haired ladies in their late 50s and 60s, it would actually ring more true and feed into the stereotype they’re going for. I’d also be more convinced if they looked similar. Same race, same general figure. And you can’t make them all black… Because that would just mean Mr. Immortal is a racist. But seriously, most guys have a type… Just look at Hugh Hefner.(sorry, but he’s on my mind because of the trashy podcast Holly and Bridget from the girls next-door are doing). That sort of guy who can get just about anybody he wants is going to go for the same type repeatedly. Doesn’t have to be blonde and busty like Hefner, but skinny, fat, African-American, Latino, men… This is not a natural pattern, and again, it’s smacks of a diversity checklist Rather than organic chemistry, and it’s so jarring that it yanks me right out of the story.

Not there’s really much story here to begin with. She hulk shows up at a wedding, gets to complain about how they don’t want her to be Seahawk at the wedding and take attention away from the bride… She feels like everybody’s being mean to her, Gets into a fight,and then goes home. Seriously, I had a bridesmaid like this. We kicked her out of the wedding party. It is true, that most of the people in this episode are portrayed as jerks and pretty bad folks… The problem is, so is Jen. I don’t like Jen… But I’m supposed to be following her and rooting for her. And that’s kind of the root problem with she hulk in general. She’s just written as such a jerk, and that’s not the Seahawk that I know. It’s a shame too, because I like she hulk. The CGI model looks just fine to me, and I can’t wait to see her team up with the fantastic four. But man, this version is just a drag.

It’s no wonder the show is hemorrhaging viewers, and even though I’m sticking with it for the sheer masochistic duty of it, it’s not one I could recommend. Ugh. Just give me more Stargirl instead.

 



All Finales!

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.
I gotta say, the thing that keeps coming back to me here, the thing that appeals to me the most about the show is that they genuinely get Superman. Clark feels helpless, worthless because he can’t get out there and save everybody, but Lois remind him that it’s not the powers that make him Superman… And right now the town needs Superman… Someone to rally around someone to give them hope. It’s just brilliant. It shows a true understanding of who Superman is, and what his appeal really is. Superman is an aspirational figure, more than just a hero.
Over in The Flash, I gotta say, I almost feel now like I’m reading comics again. This episode picks up where last week left off, with our new speedster, and her boyfriend who is definitely not the reverse flash. Definitely not. While flash attempts to train her, and iris tries to cope time jumping sickness, the avatars of the different forces show up again, this time very definitely the villains of the piece. I’m enjoying this, because we get a lot of interesting continuity, despite these being very self-contained episodes. We’re getting callbacks we’re getting characters from various stories mingling, it’s very much a comfortable old friend. It’s very much pulp fiction. It’s very much just like reading a comic book… And I think that’sThe Flash achieving its highest and best destiny.
 
Then there’s Miss Marvel… which is nothing like reading a comic book. Last week I mentioned that I was starting to see a pattern, and I think I really have cracked their formula. 85% world building, 15% action. Because that’s really what this is. It’s a very talky 35 minutes or so and 15 minutes of superhero shenanigans. The story is mostly concerned with Kamala getting ready for her brothers wedding… And the wedding itself. The Band playing the wedding by the way? “BROWN Jovi“. I absolutely screamed. I’m not sure if I’m finding it appalling or hilarious… Equal parts both probably.

They frontload the episode with an infodump, that the aunt who the bracelet belonged to, she and a bunch of her friends are actually aliens from another world, and the inspiration for the legend of the djinn. I’ll admit, I like this, it actually gets me back into the mood to watch Wishmaster again. It’s also an interesting take.

The rest of the episode is basically Kamala struggling to decide whether or not she’s going to help them and maybe escape with them or whatever… Kamala is actually the McGuffin of the story! Our alien friends however, aren’t waiting around. They come for her… right in the middle of the wedding reception and chaos ensues.

Do you know what bugs me here? We’re three episodes in and we have yet to see that costume that they were so quick to show off and all of the promotional materials. Honestly, I’m watching this because I want a superhero show, and Disney+, in typical fashion are dragging their feet! Yes, I’m probably gonna follow this all the way through, but it’s incredibly frustrating and there’s a reason why the show had the lowest debut numbers of any marvel show yet. In the words of falcon… Do better. Seriously Disney, do better.

So, does Obi-Wan stick the landing? It’s a really hard question to answer. It does and it doesn’t. I get all the resolution I was looking for and a lot of what I wanted… But it also comes with a lot of stuff that I just don’t care about. You see the problem with stretching this film script out into a six hour mini series, is all the stuff you have to fill-in, and I have said repeatedly, I am certain that Reva is an add-on designed strictly to stretch this thing out to six hours with a B storyline. The thing is, we still need to wrap up that be a storyline… And she takes up half the episode to do it. I feel a little bit like I did back in the day, watching the Phantom Menace. Specifically, watching the finale of the Phantom Menace. I did not care about watching little Anakin Skywalker fly a fighter craft, I didn’t care about the Gungan massacre, all I wanted to do was watch Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi fight Darth Maul. Every time they cut away from that fight and the jewel of the fates, I would just roll my eyes and count down the minutes until I can get back to the A storyline… The thing that mattered to me. I felt that a lot in this episode. Reva heads out to Tattooine to murder Luke… And she gets an attack of conscience, flashbacks of Anakin killing younglings… And just can’t. That’s it. That’s all it is. But it takes up at least 20 minutes of this episode, interspersed through what we really want to see… The showdown between Vader and Kenobi.

I almost wonder if they’ve been watching the Orville… Because this episode was full of ship porn, with tons of beauty shots of that huge star destroyer. We get all of the aesthetic from the Empire strikes back that we ever wanted, and if you’re a fan of the Star Wars style spaceships, this is absolutely gonna fill you with glee. Obi wan abandons the refugee ship, and the star destroyer predictively follows him. Vader comes down to the planet and they have at it.

If I have one real criticism of this showdown, it’s that the set just looks so cheap. I mean seriously, it’s planet hell from Star Trek… It’s not even Star Trek next generation, it’s Styrofoam rocks and light painted backgrounds from the original series with some fog thrown in for good measure. It’s just cheap. Even Uncle Owens farm where Reva is hunting Luke feels cheap. Still, a good story and good dialogue can rise you above that. This mostly manages to do that. Not entirely, but mostly. There is some good banter, and considering the way the tide turns and how spectacularly Vader loses the duel, you can almost justifying him saying that he was perhaps, “still a student” the last he met Obi-Wan… But now in a new Hope he considers himself the master. You may even argue, that is perhaps because he has in the interim between this and a new Hope, given up on his hunt for Obi-Wan. He’s finally squashed his feelings and become a true Jedi master… I’m sure there’s 1000 fan explanations for this… Though, it might’ve been nice if they’d give us a proper one.

There is one particular wonderful moment that I think Star Wars really needs to learn from and do more of. Vader is down, but he assures Obi-Wan that his failure with Anakin wasn’t entirely his fault. Vader says “you didn’t kill Anakin, I did.“ This is a brilliant piece of dialogue. Seriously. It’s the sort of ‘member berry that doesn’t just explain nostalgia, but enhances what it’s come before. I’ll give them full marks for this very smart moment. I will also extend a heartfelt F@#$ YOU to everyone who is sharing this photo 12 hours after the episode dropped. I didn’t get to watch it for two days, and all of you ruined what should’ve been a moment for me. This should’ve been a shocking surprise, but it was all over the Internet, and that does piss me off. I didn’t even get a day grace… And it’s one of the reasons I’m getting less and less patient with the Star Wars community.

By the way, this series just hates Luke doesn’t it? Not only is he just background… When we finally do get any of kid Luke, he’s just the McGuffin for the B storyline. Leia gets to be a fully developed character in the center of the action, and Luke is just… Well, throw away. It does seem like they are setting up for season two of the adventures of Obi-Wan and Leia by the way, and I’d really rather they didn’t. Oh I want a second season of Obi-Wan Kenobi… But I’d like to fast forward another five years and see him watching over Luke on tattooine and maybe getting him out of a jam or two as a young teenager. I don’t need any more Leia. Truth be told, the whole meeting and relationship between young Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi… That feels 100 times more canon breaking to me then this meet up between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.

So at the end of the day, did it stick the landing? I think it did. But I stand by my opinion that I really would’ve rather of seen this as a 2 to 3 hour film, rather than this mini series… And I needed to see it sooner. 10 years ago, this would’ve done gangbusters. I’d probably even own a copy. On the other hand, the real question is is it good enough for me to ever revisit it? Certainly I’m gonna pull the Prequel recap for my daughter once we finish return of the Jedi… But I don’t know that I really care to sit through six hours of this again. Two hours? Yeah that I might do… Especially with friends at a party. But no, I can’t see me ever coming back to this series… Although of all the Star Wars that’s come out since return of the Jedi… This might be the most likely candidate.
And then, there is The Orville.
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.

With the upset of the election, a potential peace treaty with the galactic union is also shot down… Leaving our representatives on planet in peril. It’s a good time to mention that Bruce Boxleitner is guest starring in this episode… Except they’ve buried him under a ton of prosthetics! Still, that voice is unmistakable and as soon as you see the eyes paired with it… I know exactly who I’m looking at. He gets a good performance despite it all and of course, it’s another one of those ways where The Orville really does established sci-fi cred. The new Krill leader by the way, is Seth MacFarlane’s old lover… One who had infiltrated the ship in the previous season… And she’s got a secret! There’s a child… All of this makes the whole situation more complex and politically charged… And in a different political climate, I think I’d be a lot more into this intrigue. This is another one of those series where I’m watching and kind of wondering if they’re gonna stick the landing, or if they are going to stumble into the political Meyer like far too many other shows half. The Orville has until now, been a safe haven for a lot of us political refugees from science fiction… I’m still a fan, but when it comes time to revisit the season… This may be the episode I skip.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Week of 6-15-22

The Flash kicks things off right this week, jumping right in showing a race between the flash and another speedster dressed like a ninja. It’s a funny coincidence, considering I spent the weekend watching a bunch of ninja movies…

The black suited speedster in question is Dr Mina, a scientist who seems to have developed a machine that can grant a person artificial super speed. Or is it really artificial speed force? Barry’s taking it upon himself to help train her, but things go sideways when he meets her partner… Ebon Thawn, the Reverse Flash. This is the blonde hair blue eyed version of Thawn, and he’s lost his memory. It’s suspicious enough to send Barry running to check on Tom Kavanaugh‘s reverse flash, still stripped of his power, and cooling his heels in iron heights prison. Together they realize that what Mina has created is a machine that Thawn designed 200 years from now in his own quest for super speed… But it’s not creating artificial speed force. It’s tapping in to the negative speed force. Much like an atom can have a negative charge and a positive charge, Barry is the avatar of the speed force and carries the positive charge. What Mina has discovered is the negative charge of the speed force, and a lightning bolt from her hand can cancel out Barry’s powers.

It’s just a great solid superhero adventure. Mina actually stopped just short of kind of becoming a female reverse flash… And indeed, Barry even says “Central City can always use more heroes“. No it can’t! What it needs is more villains! and I’d love to see her go full Reverse Flash here. When you’re at the eighth season like this, it wouldn’t really be just a gender swap replacement of an existing character, but rather a variant that moves right along in the continuity, not taking away from the already established character. let her be a reverse flash for an episode or two, and maybe even climax it with three reverse flashes after Barry. Either way, you can tell that I’m digging on this episode, because of all the speculation…

Moreover we get not one, but three stingers at the end, it seems that there wasn’t really enough time to dedicate to the b storylines, so they’ve got a cliffhanger us at the end here with glimpses of Cecile and her powers going off the scale, A potential resurrection for killer frost, and new devious plans hatching with the reverse flash. It gets me very excited for what the back end of the season has to offer. You also can never go wrong with a cameo from Ray Palmer. Even if it is just Brandon Routh skypeing in, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Everything that Brandon Routh brought to the table with Clark Kent… All the charm and gawkiness without being… Well, stupid… (The way Christopher Reeve played him) it’s all dialed up to 11 when Routh plays the atom, and it just works so well.

But then we get to Ms Marvel. And see, I don’t understand Disney. They bought Marvel… A company mostly built on superhero adventure franchises. Colorful characters in colorful costumes punching people. Then they proceed to make these Disney+ shows with very few costumes, muted colors, and nearly no action, adventure or punching. I understood there wouldn’t be tons of action in the first episode because we’re basically getting an origin, but the second episode seemed even flatter. It’s Kamala’s got a crush, and somebody’s stealing shoes at the mosque. That’s basically what happens. There’s about 10 minutes of a superhero rescue towards the very end and quite the cliffhanger, but the 40 minutes or so that proceeded… It’s all just people talking. You know, I feel like I’ve said this before… Oh wait, I have. I said it for six weeks with Loki.

Part of me wonders if Marvel just hasn’t gotten The formula right… I mean, the Disney+ shows sure seem to be following a specific structure, but it’s not the right one. In a film, the first act is world building. You get 30 or 40 minutes of that before you move into the second act which is conflict, usually resulting in a big problem or falling out that has to be resolved shortly into the third act just before the climax. It’s a reliable structure, and when you deviate from that, you start feeling like the film is dragging. On a traditional 22 episode network television series, you probably get about 20%-25% of each episode divided world building, maybe a little bit more or less depending on the story, as well as character development all throughout, while never neglecting the action and adventure itself. For all of my talk about how the CW shows really do love their scenes of attractive people talking about their feelings in dimly lit hallways… They still understand that balance, And don’t deprive us of the important punching moments.

And yet every week I hear my friends gushing about “Marvel has done it again!“ And have the newest Disney Marvel show is the best thing ever! And I just don’t get it. I almost wonder if they’re reacting more to that shocking cliffhanger that they do seem to like leaving us with rather than the contents of the absolute self. That would make sense to me, but honestly, it’s not enough to run a series on that alone.

Fortunately, they haven’t forgotten about the action when it comes to making Obi-Wan. The imperial forces are bearing down on the underground railroad base, and it’s basically up to Obi-Wan to buy them time to evacuate… and get Princess Leia to safety.

We finally get some of Reva’s backstory… But it’s no exaggeration when I say literally everybody I knew, whether they were Star Wars fans or not, whether they like the show or not, EVERYONE ABSOLUTELY KNEW  she was going to end up being one of the kids in the Jedi temple and that somehow she would’ve survived the massacre from Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan suggests that the reason she’s doing all this is really to able to get close to Vader to kill him… Which is weird, because she’s been serving Vader for a decade or two now, but it’s only now that Obi-Wan’s  dreamy eyes are enough to convincing her to try and kill him? No, I still insist that this character feels very clumsily inserted into the story for purposes of padding out the length to get it to six hours, and to make sure that there’s some sort of diversity first. It’s not even that she’s awful, it’s just that she’s unnecessary. The imperial turncoat that’s been helping Obi-Wan and Leia escape…? The one that will occasionally don her old imperial officer uniform? You could have given Reva’s entire backstory to her and not missed a beat. She could have still headed up to confront Vader this episode and had a far more interesting death. And all the tracking and torture and villainous stuff Reva’s been doing? It’d all be WAY more interesting if that were Vader. I’ve said it before, but it bears reapeating. you have one of the greatest cinematic villians of all time at your disposal. Not just of sci-fi, not just of star wars….ONE OF THE GREATEST VILLIANS IN THE HISTORY OF ALL MOVIES….but you’d rather use Reva.

I can kind of see how Obi-Wan really did start off life as a film script. You can feel the pacing, especially now that we’re fully immersed into the third act, and this thing absolutely would’ve blown our socks off as a three hour film, rather than a six hour miniseries. In fact, I could go for a couple of two-hour Obi-Wan films with these kind of production values. Still, while this probably wasn’t the series best destiny, it’s still been the best of any of the Disney Star Wars that I’ve seen.

With no Superman and Lois this week, we’re rounding things out with the Orville. The thing is, I’ve never been a fan of imaginary stories. I don’t enjoy the stuff like Shore Leave, or the holodeck hijinx of Casino Royale or the Big Goodbye. Still, I’ve gotta admit, Seth MacFarlane is not gonna be able to fully realize his dream of doing a Star Trek series without at least one of these type of stories. He provides us with a sufficient McGuffin, and to his credit, the story actually gives us more of a twilight zone feel to them than a fantasy diversion. It’s an interesting aesthetic, but for me these still always feel like a waste of time.

McFarland also manages to tack on what Harlan Ellison used to refer to as “that dopey utopian bull$#@% that Gene Roddenberry loved” tm. McFarlane puts it in the mouth of the MacGuffin, a highly evolved creature, that’s at least 50,000 years beyond us… more really, since they learned how to manipulate and control their evolution. She suggests that humanity is on the right track, having left behind it’s gods and it’s myths and it’s nations, but when you become as involved as they are, you even move beyond any other identities… Explorer, captain, husband, even man or woman. Now, before people start pointing fingers and triumphantly exclaiming “See! Star Trek was always woke!“ Not only can I just kind of brush it off as one line of dialogue… (And being a student of history, I’ve noticed that every generation seems to think that they’ve evolved past a lot of those traditional concepts and identities… past ideas of God and nation and identity (and then history or reality reassert themselves and we find ourselves drawn back to those traditions). Sure I CAN address that myself, but I don’t actually have to, because in true Star Trek fashion, the show plunges forward to explore the statement further. McFarlane points out that while humans may not be as involved as our McGuffin, we’re old enough that we don’t run experiments on lower life forms the way the McGuffin has just done on us. It’s an interesting statement. It doesn’t necessarily contradict her, but it certainly gives you something to think about… and makes you wonder whether or not the McGuffin’s evolution is truly progressive and positive or not. The crew discusses it over dinner in the mess hall that night at the ship…

McFarland is pushing an atheist view here, that when you die there’s nothing, but that’s something to wrestle with. It’s an idea that we can’t truly wrap our heads around. Even the idea of it just being a formless black void after we die… We still have to be conscious in some way to perceive that… How do you perceive nonexistence? Bortus on the other hand suggests that death is noble. It’s a part of life and it has it hazards on virtue. McFarlane dismisses it as the traditional philosophical idea, but even in the dismissal, we get to listen to the point. Despite all of this, the first officer seems shocked that McFarlane would wish to live forever. He gives a marvelous justification though…

“I want to see what happens.”

I love this. I disagree with the primary tenant that McFarlane really wants to espouse, but he does it smartly – it’s classical liberalism which wants to debate the comcept, talk about it and chew it over and eventually come to a conclusion. It’s a difference between this and any of the modern Star Trek we see on Paramount plus which merely wishes to push it’s message, unquestioned. The Orville maybe stating its own opinion, but more importantly, they want to start the discussion. That’s why a single line can spark so much explanation from me here in this blog. That’s what Star Trek used to do.

Of course, you could justifiably say that I’m over thinking things here. But then again, hasn’t that always been the point of science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular?

See you next week.


   


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.

In the aftermath of Superman finally telling Lana his secret, we really spent a lot of the episode with her trying to deal with that, and how that affects her relationship with the Kents. While I think the revealing your secret identity trope is way over done (Let’s face it, live action Batman whips that mask off anytime potential booty is in the vicinity) what I really enjoy about this episode is it finally gives us some real Lois and Lana drama. It’s something that I didn’t realize I was missing so much. Lana and Lois were always a little uneasy around each other, indeed sometimes downright hostile towards each other in the comics… We haven’t really seen a whole lot of that in this story. Lana reveals to Lois that she’s not nearly as angry at Clark and she is at Lois. Since they moved to Smallville they really connected. They had a real friendship… She was the one that Lana would call if she needed something or just needed to talk. That’s the betrayal she’s feeling. It is completely irrational and unreasonable, because as Lois explains, it wasn’t her secret to tell. In fact, I find myself a little disappointed in Lois here because she ends up coming back to say she’s sorry and then laying out everything else… Jordan, the history, everything about Superman. That’s not the Lois Lane as I know. Lois is stronger than that, even in the face of this sort of friendship. We get such a good description though, of her life and metropolis. Too busy with work, and then with being a mother… She never had time for real friends. It’s an interesting perspective and one that rings true. It’s a sort of character development that really makes Superman and Lois such an interesting series, and some of the best Superman I’ve seen in my lifetime. We get some shenanigans with the kids as well, and again I can’t overemphasize… I should hate these teenagers. These characters have so much potential to just be annoying frustrating and a distraction from the main plot, but I’m finding myself invested in everybody. It’s good stuff, and we’re starting to see the beginnings of the armor for Steele’s daughter. We knew it was coming, and I’m actually kind of excited to see it show up.
 
Speaking of shows that are in the middle of a serialized story… Obi-Wan is really kind of stuck in the middle here with episode three. It’s a sort of thing that kind of makes me wish this is just been a film instead. There’s not enough for a six hour miniseries, but plenty for two. Still, we’ve got some action as Obi-Wan spirits lay out a way through a sort of Jedi underground railroad. It’s interesting enough, but then we really get some chills with the arrival of Darth Vader. We get the whole assembly and armor sequence, and just the sheer intimidation of him wandering the streets. Indeed, I think this is a lot of what the fandom really long for. It’s the kind of thing we wanted to see in between the films and certainly during the wilderness years. It’s one of the reasons why the Marvel comics are still as beloved as they are. To see this familiar shapes… Stormtroopers and probe droids and Vader flanked by all of it, it’s a beautiful thing. Seeing him fight with Obi-Wan… I know the back of my mind is screaming they’re breaking canon, but it really is a sort of thing you want to see. The fact that they’ve got Ewan McGregor at the perfect age for this in the storyline as well is a real blessing. Especially since as I mentioned last time, he’s honestly become more Obi-Wan than Alec Guinness. It does_however one of my problems with the prequel’s. I’ve never been able to reconcile Hayden Christensen Anakin Skywalker or Jake lights for that matter, as Darth Vader. The Vader we see in episode three is evil. He’s cruel and impatient. He’s everything that made him so terrible in the original trilogy… But he doesn’t feel like Anakin in the prequel‘s. He doesn’t move the same way our talk the same way… He is far more prone to snap and murder somebody in the blink of an eye. There is so much of the refined brutality in him that it just never feels like Anakin . But I’ll tell you what it does feel like… This absolutely feels like Darth Vader to me.

That makes the inclusion of inquisitive Reva so much more baffling. She’s fine for what she is, but if you were going to include a villain like this… I mean why? Why have A second stringer like this when you actually have access to Darth Vader as a villain? Putting him in there makes anyone else pale in comparison and quite frankly I think I’d enjoy this more if all of her lines and duties were basically just handed straight to Vader. Vader wasn’t above doing foot work and getting his hands dirty… He wasn’t the grand pubah of the Empire (Although he was pretty close). The fact that he was a hands-on sort of leader only makes him more terrifying and he’s the real deal and I think fans want to see in the series. It only lends further credence to my belief that the Reva character and most of her art was grafted onto the series for runtime purposes… And honestly, there’s not a whole lot of use for it. I’m far more interested in seeing character development with Obi-Wan than I am with her and her strangely modern American hair (seriously, it’d be like if someone had given Lando an Afro and Empire strikes back it would’ve just stuck out like a sore thumb and so does this!). I’m also disappointed in Lucasfilm in characterizing any criticisms of the show or of the character in particular as racism. It’s a really tired old trope, and attacking the fans makes me less than enthusiastic about following this show… Not more.
Nevertheless, we’ll see what happens next week.
 
The Orville has returned! Holy crap, I didn’t realize just how much I was missing this show. It’s kind of like back when I first watched the Orville. It reminded me just how much I missed having good Star Trek like Next Generation or Deep Space Nine. That’s kind of the thing… It took dreck like Discovery and Picard to make me realize how much I missed the days of Berman and Braga. And it took a couple of recommendations between my best friend and Gary over at nerd Roddick to really get me on board… But now that I am, I’m so happy the series is back. I’ve missed it since it went on that extended hiatus after the second season. Especially considering we left so much kind of unresolved. Season three comes back with a vengeance… Literally. The story kind of involves the way the crew is relating to Isaac, the robotic crewman… Part of the race of robots I just tried to destroy humanity. Basically, Orville borg. The thing is, they handle it extremely well. We get themes of unease and bigotry and xenophobia but we explore all sides of it, and quite frankly, the people who are espousing The various views… Pro and con, they’re all part of the heroic cast. This way we get to really explore the ideas, rather than what modern Star Trek does… Just telling you what you’re supposed to believe… This one’s more interested in playing with the concepts and letting you find your own truth. Even if it’s hopefully theirs… That’s how real Star Trek always do politics, and it’s refreshing to see it again. Looking at things from all sides.

The other thing this gets right, something that is extremely Star Trek, is the starship porn. Let me tell you something, this first episode of the third season is total starship porn. The Orville is in space dock for refit, and while we only kind of heard about the refit of the Enterprise NCC-1701, we really see a lot more of it here. A lot of space walks, a lot of fly-bys, lots of shots of the spacfoode dock itself. If you’re a fan of beautiful starships, this is absolutely for you. Really lovely looking ships is something that’s absolutely been missing from Star Trek ever since the new TV series begun. While I wasn’t a fan of the 2009 Enterprise, there were some real design chops there. Everything in Discovery and Picard is just flat and ugly… The Orville understands working the beauty of a starship and it all makes it so much more fun. I am so glad to have the Orville back, I am so glad to have some real Star Trek back to watch While Prodigy catches up and gets ready to launch the back half of it season.
 
By the way, for anyone wondering, yes, I’m still keeping up on the foods that made us and it’s sister show Adam eats the 80s. The 80s show isn’t nearly as much fun as I had hoped and unfortunately, the food that made America… I don’t know if it’s running out of steam or not. But I will say this, little Debbie versus Entenmann’s… That’s some weird subject matter!
 

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.

 
 

 


Week of 2-25-22

Episodes like last week are really the reason I keep defending the Flash even after a lot of my friends have dropped off. We open with the flash running through Central city stopping Miner Street level crime. A robbery here, maybe push your grandmother out of the way of a truck… All before running home for game night. This he is actually the kind of stuff I’d like to see more of. Especially with such an established casting concept.

The rest of the story is a really straightforward standard adventure with a villain looking for eternal life, and draining the energy from the people of the city. We get to watch the flash grow old as he battles this guy, and it’s just a fun story.

While this episode doesn’t really connect to anything else in the series, it’s very much standalone but still doing the sort of farewell Thing as well, bringing back familiar faces. This time around it’s Captain Singh from the earlier episodes. He stepped down two seasons ago or so, it was never a big character… Always more of a background one. That’s what makes it so weird to bring him back like this. He’s got a substantial role in the story, helping Joe settle into retirement, and it’s weird because he probably gets more screen time in this one episode than in any given season.

Still, the standalone for me is good. And it doesn’t feel like filler. It doesn’t give me the same exasperation in the last couple of episodes have. It’s just a reminder of why I genuinely do enjoy the show.

With no Superman this week, I decided to take the plunge and check out Obi Wan

The first episode actually starts off with about a 5 to 7 minute recap of the prequel series. Not only is that smart, it’s actually better than watching those three movies in full. We get all the salient data, we get the best of the performances, and you basically get to know everything we need to know going into this.

It’s interesting, normally I’d roll my eyes at the idea of yet another prequel series, but this is exploring that’s strange imperial. Between revenge of the Sith and a new Hope. It’s not something that’s ever been explored before, and quite frankly, Ewan McGregor is one of the absolute best things about the prequel series.

I am intrigued by the show. McGregor is actually a surprisingly proficient action hero, and I almost wonder if we really needed this story earlier. A lot of the bloom is off the rose is off Star Wars, but fans have been clamoring for this year well over a decade. Ewan McGregor has basically made the role his – more than Alec McGuniess ever did, and it’s nice to see him back in the saddle.

The portrayal of a child Leia is also interesting. I actually see it. they’ve made her up in a way that REALLY evokes Carrie Fisher, and I can totally see this little girl growing up to be her in another ten years. Likewise, the whole Star Wars world feels right. In fact, the only thing that feels out of place is the Inquisitor Reva. That VERY 2022 hairstyle takes me right out and it feels like there’s more attention paid to her story than to Obi-wans’s….of course they DO have six episodes to fill here, and adding more subplot with her may be one of  the ways they stretched out that original two hour film idea into a six hour mini-series.

That’s at the core of any problems they are going to have here. I could see the filler stretching out Picard, Wandavision and Loki. Obi Wan is starting out strong, and very watchable – maybe the best of the modern Disney Star Wars. But filler may well kill it. I hope not. This one has enough of my intrest to keep me around for another four weeks.


Catching up with my CW shows

 You know, I really haven’t talked much about television lately. I get behind, I catch up, and then I get behind again. But at this point it also feels like it would be kind of redundant. “Superman and Lois is the best thing ever”, “I know Flash is getting up there in years, but it’s still pretty good“.

Really it’s pretty much that set of statements all over again. I will say, it’s a little frustrating that evil bizarro Jonathan Kent has one of the best costumes on Superman and Lois. The whole bizarro world saga they’re doing here has been shockingly good. The problem is, this is the CW and I just keep waiting for them to mess it up…

Flash on the other hand, we’ve had two episodes in a row that feel like they’re just filler. I suppose you can get away with that with The Flash, there’s still managing to crank these things out every week whereas Superman and Lois is coming out twice a month and that maddeningly slow pace just ups the anxiety all the more. 
 
Times are quite uncertain at The CW these days, and probably rightfully so. Stuff like Supergirl and Batwoman should’ve been canceled ages ago, and quite frankly I think the only thing that kept Legends of Tomorrow going as long as it did was sheer  momentum. I still maintain that I wouldn’t mind seeing a Showcase show where we get a smattering of arrowverse characters, somebody shows up each week and you never quite know who you’re going to get. An ensemble anthology like that maybe the CW’s last best hope, now that even a lot of their second stringers are gone.

The one that disappoints me the most is finding out that Stargirl was cancelled. I know I’ve been saying it for months, but I need to go back and just watch the rest of that show. We got no more coming so maybe I’ll add that to TV night with Maddie. We made it about halfway through their second season, and then things just got too busy. I kind of regret that now.

Oh well, hopefully we’ll be back soon with some new comics. There’s been so little I’ve actually cared to read lately, but worlds finest number three did pop up on my radar last week I just haven’t gotten to it yet! See you then.
 
 

 


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 3/16/22 (mostly)

It was finally time last week. The moment I’ve been waiting for, one of my most intense anticipated books in a good long while. Worlds Finest finally hit The shelves. You basically have my attention, just by putting the yellow oval behind the bat symbol. In fact, I really like the general character designs that were seeing for both Batman and Superman here. Very traditional, very much my generation.

What we get, is part one of what promises to be a fun adventure, featuring more than a few familiar faces, all designs like Lex Luthors Super Powers battle armor and traditional Batman villains. It’s all good, it’s all solid, and quite frankly, it’s the first time in a very long time – years – that I feel like I’m sitting down and reading a new comic book that was written for me. I’m really enjoying this already, and I am hard and fast on this series all the way. If DC still offered subscriptions, I’d already be there.

Marvel on the other hand, nothing much on the shelves this week. I took a peek at the Spider-Man title – the beyond side-title that they’ve been putting out with the .2 numbers. It feels like the writers had a whole slew of subplots if they just couldn’t fit into the main book, so they dumped them all here. It feels horribly mismatched and choppy. It’s worth peeking at your friends copy though, just to see what happens when the lizard tries to bite a chunk out of Morbius, and ingests his vampire blood, combining with Dr. Connors on regenerative abilities. There’s a smart idea going on here and it really deserved better placement as the b storyline in the main book.

I’m kind of behind on getting this up, and while I was editing, the next wave of books came out so we’re gonna do two weeks worth of DC here… But then again don’t worry. It’s not gonna take long.

The Human Target is still excellent. Quite frankly, Christopher Chances romance with Ice is just enthralling. This is a tough sell too, because those of us who were around for the heyday of the Justice League International, have a lot invested emotionally in the relationship between ice and Guy Gardner. This book definitely moves us on, creating a new lens to observe that romance through, and leading Ice move on to a new relationship a chance. It also presents guy in a bad light, but does it smartly… In such a way that I don’t resent it. Even though last month was pretty much a filler issue, overall, this series has been just great. I’m gonna miss it when it’s over. I’m gonna miss this take on chance, and I hope we see more of it.
Also in the black label line is the flashes rogues book. This one I’m not so sure how to feel about. It’s in the future, kind of an old man Logan take… I’m hot and cold on it. Not sure if I like it or not yet. I really don’t like that Boomerang is dead (basically my main gateway to the Rogues) though the take on the young Trickster is actually pretty interesting. Not really enjoying Bronze Tiger being cast as a villian this time around though. I’m hoping we see him wrestle with his violence and morality, the way John Ostrander used to so intelligently write him. The whole thing is a real jumble that has me off balance.  I’m willing to give it one more issue though.

I even took a peek in this week’s Harley Quinn.
 
Um…. what has happened to this title?

The art is AWFUL. It’s so wierd and loopy and cartoon and it just feels cheap.  Also I know that they’re kind of trying to sell Harley as a hero these days because of her popularity, but really I feel like she’s lost a lot of her edge. The Harley Quinn I know wouldn’t be heading to jail trying to be cute and avoid any confrontations. The Harley I know would saunter in with a joke and a cute smile, and then stab a chick. Ugh. Such a disappointment.

On the other hand, Marvels infinity comics have been blowing me out of the water for the last couple weeks. One of the more interesting bits was marvel meow… A story about what happens when Black Widow and Bucky drop their cats off to stay with Captain Marvels flerkin.

It goes about as you would expect, and it’s really cute as a fun little one shot. Of course, even as I’m writing this, my daughter has informed me that it’s NOT a one shot… And in fact just A few days ago, they posted part two… where Spider-Man is cat sitting this time.
You know what? This was fun the first time, but comes off as a little silly and excessive going any further. Still, definitely catch up first one.

We did also get a Spider Bot infinity comic. See, here’s the thing, I discovered the infinity comics strictly because of the Jeff the LandShark series. That’s led to some of these other cutesy ones. I’m a fan of that kind of stuff, alligator Loki is probably the only one that’s coming close, but spider bite has its own charm. They’ve actually done a fairly good job I’ve been viewing these little sentient spider tracers with a surprising amount of personality. In the slightest issue, we encounter one with a broken leg… He can’t go on missions because he’s waiting to be fixed, so he stays back to clean the apartment, while dreaming of saving the world from Thanos and marrying fire star. All perfectly relatable!

More importantly though… The single most important innovation and offering from the Disney+ Loki series has arrived in comic form.
That’s right, they put out an Alligator Loki comic book! Thor stumbles across our scaly friend as he tumbles out of a portal, and in an attempt to bond with this version of his brother, he takes him to an asguardian amusement park. It’s just the best thing ever. I don’t know what delights me more. Watching poor little alligator Loki try and hold on as they ride the roller coaster, or just the sight of him in one of those across the chest baby harnesses as Thor carries them around. Seriously. It was my absolute favorite thing all last week.

I do feel weird that all of my Marvel  reading this week has pretty much been the online stuff, but they’re genuinely doing some good stuff here in these infinity comics and it’s worth hopping the pay wall to check it out.
 
My last pick this week was ShadowMan. Did you even know they were still doing this book? I mean it’s in its fifth or sixth version of the character even within this current reboot, and they’re leaning heavily into the whore. There’s some good stuff here, especially if you’re a voodoo fan like I am.

There’s an interesting approach to the Shadow Man, trying to treat him almost as a priest rather than just a warrior or a superhero. This is interesting, it’s a good and natural evolution of this character as we have added progressively more voodoo and horror elements to the series over the last couple of decades. Here we find him battling the incarnate spirit of the Deadside, in attempt to prevent the land of the dead from merging with the land of the living. I feel like I just saw a bunch of the story in Legend of Korra, but it remains solid. It’s one of those though that I think I might rather wait for the trade then chasing down individual issues. I’m still a little lukewarm on this version. I like it, but I feel like it needs more. Honestly what this really needs is a good supporting cast… I was so hoping that this dead side goddess would end up being Jack’s old housekeeper Nettie. I’ve been keeping with the sort of slight paranoia and twists that we used to get from the book. There’s still a solid foundation here, what it really needs is someone with a good long-term vision – I mean five years or so who can create a supporting cast around Jack figure out a good nightmare and bring back some recurring arch enemies. (in the previous issue, we got a brief appearance by master dark in Sandria and I was so excited for half a millisecond until they just use them as a throwaway villain… Such a bummer!)

foodThat’s it for comics.

Now. How about television?

The Food That Built America is back on, and I am enjoying that, there’s definitely some stuff about Dairy Queen in Carvel that I never knew. There’s a new show with Adam Richmond on after it too – Adam eats the 80’s which explores lost and changed food and candy from the 1980’s it’;s been far more interesting and fun that it has any right to be. It’s a good thing too, because I had an opening in my TV schedule  –  Superman and Lois was on a break last week and the Flash… I don’t know what it is the season. I almost feel like the mandate is “show the flash as little as possible“ after these last two episodes. I mean it’s fun to see Barry trapped in the locked down police station and I guess they’d have to take away his powers to make that work, but seriously. We’re getting two or three minutes of costume time each episode and I feel like I’m back in the 80s again where are these type of programs we’re still trying to pretend they weren’t superhero shows.

Maybe they’ll do better this week. Both The Flash and Superman and Lois should be available on demand by the time I get home tonight….I’ll let you know next week!

 

 


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)

There’s a bit of a caveat when I say The Flash is back… Because The Flash doesn’t actually appear in this episode. This one is strictly an excess and impulse story, where they’ve done something that messed up the timeline, and they have to go back and fix it… All the way back to right after the explosion at Star Labs. Back to a time before The Flash existed. It’s a good and fun little romp, but this feels suspiciously like a back door pilot to show the chemistry between excess and impulse as they engage in some speedster highjinks.

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.

Back to comics, I’m still on board the Batgirls train. Really, the thing that we’re reading this for is a relationship between Steph and Cass. That’s a good thing too, because the current story arc feels like it’s stretching out a little bit too long. This issue feels a lot like filler, with half of the book literally taking place with them going out cruising and checking out a used bookstore. We’ve got Stephanie explaining to Cassandra terms like BFF or Bestie, and it’s actually a little weird. I get what they’re going for and how they’re building this friendship, but we have Cass portrayed is shockingly naïve in a lot of ways, despite being In Barbara Gordon’s care for a long time (an entire series even! Remeber that 2000-2006 run kicked off by Kelley Puckett and Scott Peterson?). Then there’s the constant affirmations that Cass makes to Steph. We get it again in this book… In fact it seems like it’s I requirement that at least once an issue somebody remind Stephanie how amazing she is. Again, it’s weird. Steph is already a complex character. She is broken away from her super villain father, created a superhero identity in the Spoiler, been trained in large part by Robin, falling in love, falling out of love, gotten pregnant, become Robin, died… No, wait, faked her death… Came back, then has been Batgirl. All of this, and she still needs daily girl power affirmation from her best friend?

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.

Devils Reign continues to be good stuff, and actually so does the Superior Four. It’s one of those tiles that probably didn’t even need to be tied into Devils Reign, it’s got enough potential on its own in a what if sort of way. But the real find this month, is the Moon Knight tie-in to Devils Reign.

As I mentioned a week or two ago, I do enjoy prison stories. Devil in cell Block D was a brilliant handling of Daredevil, and the Punisher really works in those sort of context as well. Just look at the first chapter of Circle of Blood, or the one shot The Cell. This feels a bit like an amalgam of both. We have the skill and cunning of Daredevil, mixed in with the murderous brutality of the Punisher.

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.

I admit, the more I am trying to ease back into reading modern comics, I’m discovering… I’m getting very tired of the Multiverse. Look, this was cool back in the 70s and 80s when DC really kicked it off. It allowed us to have the golden age superheroes on one world and the modern age ones on another… We could have back up stories about golden age Batman and the huntress, and All-Star squadron running… Completely doing their own thing in continuity. At the same time, we could have Superman and Wonder Woman and the Justice League over on another rack, never touched by the events that were happening on earth 2… Except in the very rare crossover every few years, when that you were us would get together and battle a threat like the Crime Syndicate on earth 3. Even Marvel approached it this way around the turn of the century when they were really pushing their ultimate line. It was confirmed that the ultimate comics weren’t just their own continuity, but their own universe when the fantastic four accidentally crossed over into the Marvel zombies universe. Then somebody had the bright idea that the MCU would be just another stop in the Multiverse… And DC then picked up this ball and really ran with it on The CW. The Flash was the first showed a really tie all the various sundry DC properties together, even with that first, brief glimpse of John Wesley Shipps Flash from the 90s projected in the vortex as Grant Gustin hopped worlds.

But now it’s everywhere. I mean everywhere. Hopping between parallel dimensions and worlds is done with the same ease and regularity of jumping in your car and driving one town over to see a movie. What used to be the domain of imaginary stories and rare crossovers has become so common place, that it genuinely waters a lot of the source material down. I peaked at the Gwen-Verse issue this week, and it really just underscores my point and how we are and I am of this stuff. There’s some cute stuff, Gwen is Thor and stuff… But it really just belongs in a sidelined imaginary story, not in main continuity, where everything is now canon. I think we’ve gone a little too far, and it’s become an excuse for lazy writing. Personally, I’d really like to get back to more grounded tales. Heroes that are fairly unique in their one universe and continuity… A minimum of derivatives and a special focus on a non-powered supporting cast. Maybe that’s just the street-level story fan in me, but I really do think that’s what we really need to ground comics and get them back on track. I’d definitely be buying more books if that were the case!

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?

Seriously, that’s most of what I observed this week. A sort of soap opera filler episode. The daughter found out about the affair Lana‘s husband had. This of course, ruins her quinceanera. Elsewhere, there’s drama between Superman and the General who thinks he’s in cahoots with Bizzaro, that’s why all but one of his team is dead… And Lois‘s partner meet up with the cult leader who slips her Mickey. Honestly, it’s just so soap opera it hurts. I know we’re gonna get past this, but I remember these kind of long stretches in The Flash as well… where it would kind of forget that it’s a superhero show and go full CW.

On the other hand, I don’t wanna complain too much. It’s still the best version of Superman I’ve gotten in ages, and man if they haven’t made Bizarro just terrifying. Like I mentioned last time, that’s no mean trick. We too often see Bizarro as a goof, a clown, and this one is anything but. This one is absolutely a stone cold killer with a chilling warning that war is coming.

Nothing much else on television, although I did check out a couple of comics this week. Nothing great to speak up there as well, it must be filler week for DC. Human target was really one of those stock filler issues as well, with a meeting between chance and Martian Manhunter that primarily occurs entirely in chances head. It does very little to develop the characters and nothing to forward the plot. Same thing with Spider-Man… Although in fairness, Peter is back in costume and getting back in action here, teaming up with Ben Riley. It’s more a penultimate story than it is a real driving force. That is to say, nothing to write home about. I’d really like this arc to be over soon please? Maybe get back to a status quo Spidey for a bit huh?

The one thing that I did find interesting this week was Devils Reign : Villains for Hire. The Kingpin, now mayor of New York, is doing the whole thunderbolt thing. Incomes USAgent basically offering his services to try and keep these villains under control. I’ve always enjoyed USAgent, and this is a prime example of why. He doesn’t have the virtue or moral fiber of captain America, but he definitely has the drive and the earnestness. When it comes to Truth, Justice and the American Way (hey, that’s catchy!), he’s a true believer. It’s a nice little side step. It can’t really stand on its own, but as a sort of sidequel, it’s one of the better ones.

 


Week of 9/20/21 Stargirl and What If?

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.

 


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. 

 

 


Last Weeks TV

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?


This weeks picks

 

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???

 


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 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.

 


Superman and Lois

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

It’s Fine. That’s all. Just fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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