The season finale of Supergirl aired last week, bringing to a close this season of DC property airing on the small screen. So how have things gone? Well, if you will indulge me I will look at each series in turn and give my humble opinion on each of the 6, that’s right, 6 shows based on DC comic book property. *Please note, there will be spoilers ahead.*
Arrow: Season 4
The show that started it all. I really didn’t like the second half of the third season that saw Oliver Queen become Ra’s al Ghul (seriously), so I went into season 4 expecting very little. What I found was my favourite season so far.
Following the events of Season 3, Oliver and Felicity have retired and are living the quiet life. Meanwhile the rest of Team Arrow are still fighting to keep the city safe. When they come up against a seemingly unstoppable army controlled by a powerful Mystic named Damien Darhk, they need The Green Arrow back to save Star City.
When Arrow started, they did well to keep the world he operated in free of superpowers and it worked for the first two years of the show, but if they wanted to have Green Arrow as part of the expanded universe that they were creating then it was inevitable that the meta human threat would come to Star City. The overall arc of the season is Darhk trying to destroy the world and build a better one and the lengths that Oliver will have to go to stop him.
The biggest problem I have with Arrow, apart from the excruciating romantic dialogue are the flashbacks, bloated and over long, they really slowed down the story and added very little. Not content with this irritating device, this season we had a flash forward to Oliver standing at a grave side, yes folks, we are killing another character.
However, let me start with what was good about season 4. They have finally ditched the ridiculous Starling City and gone with Star City, like the comics. I liked the duality of the character this season. Noticing that the city needed someone to stand in the light, rather that fight in the shadows, Oliver runs for mayor, which afforded him the opportunity to make some pretty cool speeches about hope. The new characters that were introduced were great. Neal McDonough plays Damien Darhk with a suave relish and manages to exude an evil charm while being utterly despicable. The we have Curtis Holt, a tech genius who works with Felicity. He is the Arrowverse version of Mr Terrific and is played with a twitchy, infectious energy by Echo Kellum. An excellent addition and will be elevated to regular cast for Season 5. Then, there is the guest appearance by one John Constantine. Now, anyone who is familiar with The Snooty Ushers will know how much I loved the Constantine TV show and just how gutted I was then it was cancelled, so I was thrilled when Matt Ryan popped up in an early episode. Tom Amandes (from one of my E4 guilty pleasures Everwood) guest as The Calculator, who also happens to be Felicity’s father and there was a welcome return of Colton Haynes as Roy Harper.
Now, the bad. Not just flashbacks, but flash-forwards? Oliver’s illegitimate son, yes Ollie does have a kid he doesn’t know about in the comics. Connor Hawke who takes over his mantle, but here, he is just an annoying plot device. Then there is the death of Laurel Lance. The Black Canary is The Green Arrow’s Lois Lane, I am fine with somethings being changed from the book, but killing The Black Canary, come on, Team Arrow needed thinned out, but surely Thea Queen was the obvious candidate. She adds nothing to the story. Having said that, they did handle Laurels death well and had me blubbering like a little girl with a skinned knee. If I was being really picky, the final battle was a little too much like the one in Season 2.
Overall Verdict: B- An improvement on season 3 for sure. The flashbacks still grate and I hated the decision to kill of yet another main character, that is 1 every season so far. A brilliant villain and some cool guest stars helped the series tick over. With Team Arrow disbanded in the finale, I am looking forward to Oliver going it alone for a while in Season 5.
The Flash: Season 2
When The Flash debuted last year, its first season was a light hearted thrill ride. Sure, there were some tragic moments, but overall it was fun. Were we in for more of the same in season 2?
No, sadly not. Barry, played so brilliantly by Grant Gustin spends most of the series moping around.
After defeating The Reverse Flash and deciding not to save his mother at the end of season 1, Barry’s time travelling antics have opened a door way to another earth and with it the seemingly unstoppable Zoom, a speedster who is faster and more powerful than Barry. Barry and his friends must face up to this unstoppable threat from another Earth.
While not quite living up to its first year, The Flash’s second season is solid and entertaining. It still suffered a bit from the freak of the week episodes, but creating the multiverse on the small screen is a bold move and it, for the most part, worked.
On the positive side, Barry’s romantic interlude with Patty Spivit was a welcome distraction from the dirge that was Barry and Iris, the brilliant Tom Cavanaugh continued to be the best thing in the show with the Earth 2 version of Harrison Wells walking the line between hero and villain wonderfully well. Wally West was introduced as Joe’s long lost son and fitted in really to the shows family dynamic with little effort. There were a lot of strong episodes in there and as I mentioned I love the idea of the multiverse, it also gave the series regulars the chance to have fun with their characters, seeing Danielle Panabaker done up like Killer Frost was a treat. We were also introduced to the new Firestorm and there was a fun, if a bit daft 2 part cross over with Arrow which lead into Legends of Tomorrow.
John Wesley Shipp’s role as Barry’s dad was beefed up too and it was nice seeing him and Amanda Pays share the screen, a nice nod to the 1990s series. There were three big standout moments for me. First, when Barry gives up his powers to save Wally was true sacrifice and it is essentailly what being a hero is all about and in the brilliant episode directed by Kevin Smith, where Barry enters the speed force. A brave move to go so deep into the comic book lore for a CW TV show, it was an emotional treat. Finally, they eventually, after 4 seasons of Arrow and 2 seasons of The Flash, managed to hit a honestly solid believable romantic moment. In the season finale, Barry is left devastated by the death of his father, he remains emotionally unavailable and can commit to a relationship with Iris. Grant Gustin and Candice Patton play it pitch perfectly and for once they are not hampered by some awful dialogue. Oh, and John Wesley Shipp as Jay Garrick as a thrilling moment too.
Ok, so the bad now and it really only really centres on one thing. Zoom/Jay Garrick. Introduced as an almost demonic figure voiced with menace by Tony Todd. He is then revealed to be Jay Garrick, the Earth 2 Flash who had come to warn Barry about the threat. Jay Garrick was played by an actor called Teddy Sears, who just didn’t look right as Garrick and carried absolutely no threat once revealed as Zoom. The whole Zoom/Garrick/Zolomon thing was a mess. Then there is yet another death. We started the season with Ronny Raymond being killed and ended with Barry’s father being murdered by Zoom. There are so many characters being killed in these shows that by the time it got around to Henry Allen’s turn it was left a bit cold and didn’t really care. For me it is just lazy writing to constantly use the death of a character to bring out an emotional response from your main character.
Overall Verdict: B. A good season, but let down by the Zoom reveal. I liked the use of The Speed Force and The Multiverse and by Barry saving his mother after all in the season finale, I look forward to the effect that has. With Reverse Flash and Zoom done, I wait with interest to see who Barry goes up against next. Flashpoint?
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1
The third show set in “The Arrowverse” Rip Hunter, a time master has come to 2016 to recruit a team of heroes and villains and attempts to travel through time to stop Vandal Savage, an evil despot who has not only conquered the globe, but killed Rip’s family in the process. Can this rag tag bunch work together and become Legends?
This show is a mess. Too many characters and spends way too much time with the wrong ones. If I was to find something good, it would be that the last 5 episodes were a massive improvement. Once the show actually focused and made a effort to bring the story to a conclusion, it worked and it worked really well. Brandon Routh is great as Ray Palmer (The Atom), but is reduced to pining over Hawkgirl from most of the episodes. Great too are the Prison Break duo of Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell and when they are front and centre it is works so much better.
The main issue with this is that the Vandal Savage is just a bit rubbish, as I mentioned in my initial review of the pilot, he comes across more of a campy pantomime villain than a world dominating despot. I am utterly amazed that this was picked up for a second season as it was incoherent, badly written and just, well, crap. A running theme with these CW shows that a character must die. This time, it is Wentworth Miller’s Capt Cold. Yup, despite the dross in this cast, the best character is sacrificed. So, those keeping count over 7 season of TV The Arrowverse have killed 9, yup, 9 characters. Lazy, lazy writing and the effect has become lame and predictable.
Overall Verdict: C-. This would have been a D if it wasn’t for the last 5 episodes which were really good. The rest was just a mess. With the ending promising an introduction of The Justice Society and Hawkman and Hawkgirl mercifully leaving, a better season is on the horizon, but I suggest they find a way to bring Wentworth Miller back. It just wont be the same without him.
Supergirl: Season 1
After a solid but a bit of a soapy start, this blossomed into the perfect superhero show. Supergirl is packed with great characters and great story with some brilliant nods to The Man of Steel.
Kara Zor-El is sent in a pod from Krypton to protect her cousin on Earth. However, her pod is knocked off course and when she arrives on Earth, her cousin has become Superman. She is adopted by The Danvers Family and lives a normal life as the assistant to media mogul Cat Grant. When a plane crash forces her to use her powers, she adopts the symbol of her cousin and becomes Supergirl. She works with the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO) to battle alien threats.
I can not express how much I love this show. Now, as most followers of The Ushers will know, I am a massive Superman fan. I have read the comics for the better part of 25 years and continue to this day. I named my daughter Kara, after Supergirl so I really wanted this to work. It did. I think the main reason why is that she shared her identity with those closet to her early, hence sidestepping the well traveled “I had to lie to protect you” line that is way over used. Melissa Benoist is perfect as Kara, a bundle of nerves and insecurity at the start, but grows into the role of both Kara and Supergirl, she is a delight.
The supporting cast are great too. The early fears about David Harewood’s Hank Henshaw being a bad guy in hiding were alleviated early when he turned out to be J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter (a DC favourite of mine and a staple of the Justice League). I enjoyed his character growing into Supergirl’s mentor. Kara’s support team beyond J’onn are Jimmy Olsen (James here), who is both her link to Superman and love interest, Wynn Shott, a computer geek, whose unrequited love for Kara is dealt with early and doesn’t out stay its welcome. Cat Grant, brilliantly played by Calista Flockhart , who acts as a mentor for both Kara and Supergirl, finally her sister Alex, who works with her at the DEO, she is Kara’s rock and is a bit of a bad ass in her own right. Loads of DC characters pop up through the series, with Peter Facinelli’s Max Lord being the stand out. Part suave meglomanical villain, part well meaning hero.
There are so many good things about this show, but for me it is that we have Kara fighting not only other Kryptonians, but her aunt (who happens to be her mum’s twin sister). This put her in the middle of her human family and her Kryptonian heritage. They also make a pretty good fist of the classic Allan Moore story “The Man Who Has Everything”. I like the fact that Clark is in the background but never seen, it gives Kara the room to grow into the hero role. The cross over episode where Barry Allan makes his way to Central City was brilliant. Funny and self referential, this was the series stand out episode. The stand out moment however came in the finale. Central City has come under the control of the Kryptonian Myriad effect, which essentially means the whole city was brain washed. Supergirl addresses the city with a speech about belonging and hope and the S symbol is transmitted onto every screen and phone in the city. The thing I love most about Superman and his extended family is, yes, how noble and heroic they are but the fact that the S symbol evokes a sense of hope. At a time of trouble and hardship, people need their heroes and at the darkest times in my life, as lame as it may sound, I reach for a Superman book. They tapped into this in the last episode, it was a truly wonderful moment.
On the negative side, they over play the whole sisters/family bit a little and all the predictable sci-fi episodes are here, doppleganger, good guy turns bad, love triangle, which is a bit of a let down. They are small complaints however. The show is great.
Overall Verdict: A+ A refreshingly upbeat and warm take on the book. A great cast lead by Melissa Benoist, some cracking stories and not a single character killed off. With a 4 show crossover with The Arrowverse coming next year and Big Blue himself coming to Star City for the Season 2 opener, I can not wait. The show moves to the CW next year, but I really hope they retain the original writing team.
Gotham: Season 2
James Gordon has been sacked and Bullock has left the GCPD. Oswald Cobblepot has taken over Fish Mooney’s operation. The GCPD is as corrupt as ever, enter Theo Galivain, a new mayoral candidate with an evil agenda. Bruce Wayne is looking into his father’s secret life and a mysterious Doctor is performing experiments on the rouges gallery in Arkham…
I can not express just how frustrated this show makes me. First of all, take the utterly stupid subtitles given to Season 2. Rise of The Villains, then the even more terrible Wrath of The Villains. The show is just seems to lumber from one disaster to the next. It is overly violent and completely unnecessarily gory. They use a wealth of DC characters but show the source material absolutely no respect.
Let us take the character of James Gordon. In the books he is the unwavering in his devotion to the law. He is Batman’s checkpoint. He is a mess in every other area of his life, but never crosses the line. Ever. This is one of those fundamental things that makes the character who he is. The writers of this show disregard this with reckless abandon. We see him execute someone who owe The Penguin money, just so he can get his job back. We see him execute Theo Galivain in cold blood. I have said many times on this subject, changes from the source material are a necessary evil, but changing the fundamental character traits rip the heart of the show.
There are some good things about the show. Bruce Wayne’s story is the best thing about it. David Mazouz has really grown into the role and is already showing some of The Dark Knight’s character traits. Robin Taylor’s Penguin is great and his decent into desperation following his mother’s death and the wonderfully campy Gothic arc he has in part 2 of the season is a definite highlight. Then there is the rise of The Riddler, it has real promise.
There is just so much bad. As I mentioned, it is too violently gory at the expense of telling a good story. The Hugo Strange arc is the second half of the season is just daft. They seem to have gotten rid of a rubbish character, Barbara Keane, Theo Galivain and Fish Mooney, only to find a way to bring them a back. Then there is Harvey Bullock, Gordon’s partner. Brilliantly played by Donal Louge, he hardly features. The whole thing is just a mess.
Overall Verdict: F. It is terrible, in almost every way imaginable. Someone just put it out of its misery. Unpleasant, disrespectful to the books and just plain rubbish.
Lucifer (Fox 2016-)
Based on DC’s Vertigo comic of the same name, this follows the devil, Lucifer Morningstar as he decides he has had enough of ruling Hell and comes to Earth. Setting himself up as a club owner, he teams up with a homicide detective to punish the guilty.
As I mentioned in my initial review of the pilot, the show goes for a lot more light-hearted take on the books, but there are some real dark moments in there. It suffers slightly by not really setting out what kind of show it wants to be. Is it a study of what would happen if the prince of darkness came to Earth and dished out some punishment on the worlds guilty or is it a will they/won’t they romantic drama with a police procedural element. When it is the former it really works, Lucifer is angry with God, really angry and leaving his post is his way of rebelling, he is so damaged that he is in therapy a device that works really well. However, the show spends too much time developing the relationship between Lucifer and Detective Chloe Decker and trying to stuff a murder of the week into each episode. Here is where things go a bit wrong. Chloe Decker is played by Laura German and she is just so wooden and has no chemistry with Ellis, it is tough to watch sometimes.
I wasn’t sure about this for the longest time, it started pretty badly and I was only watching to see how bad it could get. Episode 6 “Favourite Son” changed everything. It is here where get into Lucifer’s character and see how angry he really is and get an insight into why he is doing what he is doing. As great as this was we just did see enough of him go full demon.
Apart from the truly awful Laura German and the writers reluctance to let Lucifer let loose, the only other thing that bugged me was Lucifer’s angelic brother referring to him as Lucie…hardly a name you associate with the Prince of Darkness.
Overall Verdict: B. Recovered from a terrible start to turn into a decent show with a real edge. Definitely the most improved series. I am looking forward to seeing what they do with Season 2. Please let Lucifer loose and tone down the will they/won’t they nonsense and I will be happy.
So, there we have it. Until next October, if you need your Comic adaptation fix over the summer check out from DC’s Vertigo imprint comes Preacher by the awesome Garth Ennis, it is airing weekly on Amazon Prime. Also, there is Image Comics’ Outcast by Walking Dead scribe Robert Kirkman, catch that on Fox, every Tuesday. Reviews on both coming soon.
Thanks for reading. Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.