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Dept. of Slight Disappointment

Legends of Tomorrow

Based on trailers, and on reviews by TV types and also by people on my f'list,  and by my membership in the Arthur Darvill appreciation society, I watched the premiere of  the CW network's "Legends of Tomorrow."  I won't be watching it again.

I don't know; I think it might be a case of "It's not you, it's me" when it comes to DC comic adaptations. I was never a DC comics fan, and that seems to have carried over to most of the live media DC adaptations.


I tried to analyze what disappointed me about "Legends of Tomorrow" with BB last night, and it seemed to boil down to a couple of things. As always, my reasons are solely personal, as is my analysis.

1. The writing was ... mediocre at best, and kind of awful (the professor's conversations with his "parents" although that might have been the acting as well.) The plot felt as if it had been written in a hurry by someone who didn't really care about the characters, and simply needed to slot them in and tick off various boxes. I'm willing to be a little understanding, because this was a premiere and one needs to get as much basic information to the viewer as possible, but I've seen it done better in other shows ("Agent Carter" springs immediately to mind; even "Agents of SHIELD," which definitely had problems for the first half of its first season, had a better crafted premiere.)

2. The acting was definitely mediocre, although even a good actor would have difficulty bringing the script to life. The two crooks were the liveliest, most enjoyable folks on my screen; every time we switched back to other characters, my attention started to wander. And that's not what's supposed to happen. Even Arthur Darvill, who's a very good actor, was flattened by the script and, presumably, the direction. His Rip Hunter felt hurried and two-dimensional, and Darvill's talent was wasted.

3. The villain (Vandal Savage ... really? There are a lot of  bad villain names out there, but that one's just terrible. I know it's from the comics, but the thought still stands.) is two-dimensional. No, make that one-dimensional. Apart from one badly written sentence about making the world better by causing progress through warfare, there's no reason for this guy to be doing what he's doing - which is also pretty vague.

4. The general overall DCness of the story and the universe. For me - and just for me, I realize - it feels lightweight at best and phoned-in at worst. And I think that's the heart of it for me. DC's print and live action offerings have always seemed to me to be of less interest than Marvel offerings, and of less substance. (What? The universe of the greatest superhero of them all, Superman, feels flimsy to me? Yes, possibly because my earliest memories of that universe were of the so-called Silver Age of the early to mid-1960s.)

Marvel's live-action stuff, whether it's the Mutant movies from Fox or the larger Marvel universe unfolding throughout Iran Man, the Avengers and Captain America/Agents of SHIELD/Agent Carter and even Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy feels as if it has entertainment weight, as if some thought were put into the universe into which the characters and plots were being placed.

It's not a matter of being realistic (come on, we're talking about superheroes here.) Nor is it a matter of Marvel's world being "gritter" than the DC offerings. Making something darker or grittier just makes it darker and grittier, not necessarily more realistic, and certainly not necessarily better.

No, what I'm talking about is  ... weight. Weight is the word I'm using for lack of a better one, but there's probably a better word. It feels like I'm entering a real world when I read or watch a Marvel creation. The Marvel universe has ... consequences? Heft? Augh, I can't describe it properly. But it's a universe where a kid who lets a crook go despite his own powers can lose his uncle to that crook as a consequence. It's a world where a man turned into a pile of rocks has to live with that, and what it means for him and his loved ones. I don't find that sense of consequence and heft in DC.

I know that DC fans could probably point me to any number of excellent titles and story arcs written and published over the last 20-25 years. I know that live action DC creations have fans on my f'list as well. And I'm painfully aware that my reactions are subjective and based on incomplete information. But "Legends of Tomorrow" will have to go on without me, and I'm sure it won't mind
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This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/395999.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
beccadg
Jan. 25th, 2016 03:25 am (UTC)
If it's any consolation, I may love the TV series that Legends of Tomorrow is a spin-off from, but I found the pilot underwhelming. Rather than bother with characterization they seemed to rely on viewers having familiarity with most of the characters from their introductions on the other related series. I cared about most of the characters I cared about because I already knew them, and the ones I cared about without having seen them before I cared about because of the actors playing them. I still have some affection for Victor Garber from Titanic, Annie, and playing Jack Bristow on Alias, and of course I love Arthur Darvill from Doctor Who. The villain, for the record, seemed to get short shrift like everyone else because he'd also been introduced on the other shows. The pilot seemed to just throw a bunch of established characters together and have them waffle for an hour about whether or not to be heroes, when the title of the show implies that their becoming heroes is a forgone conclusion. I'll stick with it for a while out of my love for the characters I love, but if it doesn't get better...
kaffyr
Jan. 31st, 2016 10:20 pm (UTC)
Ooof ... finally got around to answering comments on my posts; real life was eating me whole for awhile. Sorry for the delay!

Everything you say makes sense to me. I'd be interested in hearing how you feel about the show after another couple of episodes. It's entirely possible that it might settle in and get better. One can hope so, anyhow!
a_phoenixdragon
Jan. 25th, 2016 12:45 pm (UTC)
Tis okay...I'm so used to the back-and-forth story telling, over-dramatic, over-the-top asides and underwhelming storylines (in many respects), I can understand this. I get irritated with Arrow (and occasionally, the Flash) because of some of the soapier bits of those shows - but I'm so used to the story-telling (and two-dimensional aspects) that I can handwave it a little easier. I've already been introduced to most of these characters, so I can overlook it - and Hunter is flat compared to them. I look forward to seeing what we can learn of him, though. He's already proven to be a liar once. Wondering what else he has in store. Though I must admit, the DW parallels are overwhelming everything else, have given me a giggle - so likely I'm being kinder than I should be.

*HUGS*

(But yes...Marvel does it better. I wish he had been a Marvel character. I would have loved it more, I'm sure!)

masakochan
Jan. 25th, 2016 04:47 pm (UTC)
Though I must admit, the DW parallels are overwhelming everything else, have given me a giggle - so likely I'm being kinder than I should be.

That's probably what it is for me too. If I wasn't getting such a kick out of Arthur getting to be his very own Time Lord Master- my interest in the show would have probably dropped a lot faster.

Also- now that you mention it- I'm really hoping that they can utilize Arthur's character better in upcoming episodes just because I know the man's got the acting chops to pull off some great stuff.
a_phoenixdragon
Jan. 26th, 2016 04:30 am (UTC)
Gods, right?!?! If you are gonna rope a man of his calibur, please utilize it!

*HUGS*
masakochan
Jan. 25th, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC)
But yes...Marvel does it better

Agreed. And I don't watch Agents of Shield or Agent Carter. NBC had a great adaption of DC's Hellblazer/Constantine going- but nooooooo- they had to up and cancel that one. *is still sore about that*
a_phoenixdragon
Jan. 26th, 2016 04:31 am (UTC)
(But you should!)

OMG, do NOT mention Hellblazer/Constantine. Still sore over that myself. URGH. Philistines...
masakochan
Jan. 26th, 2016 04:33 am (UTC)
I know. I'd like to give Agent Carter a try. But I've already got so many things I'm making my way through.

Srsly tho. I think you and me are going to be forever sore about that one. dammit nbc!
kaffyr
Jan. 31st, 2016 10:14 pm (UTC)
Took me long enough to get around to answer you, eh? Sorry; As selenak says, Darth Real Life ate me whole for a while.

I actually thought of you as I wrote this, because I remember you telling me all about Arrow, and making it sound like this amazing story (you're a good and enthusiastic oral story teller as well as a good written one, you know.) You made it sound really, really appealing ... but your telling was more appealing to me than the reality for me. Heh.

I will wish the delightful Arthur all the best of luck on the series; here's hoping that his character fills out and that the writing gets better than it was in the opening. Realistically, it probably will, since I gather this was written to introduce us to all sorts of characters, fast.

*hugs back*
a_phoenixdragon
Jan. 31st, 2016 10:35 pm (UTC)
No worries...happens to me all the time. :D

I get enthused and wax poetical, lol!! If you ever want to know the main plots, I will happily tell you, thereby saving you the headache of actually attempting to watch. *Laughs*

I hope it goes well for him. It is hard to intro so many characters at once - and they are rather assuming you do not watch the other series, so they are trying to cram it all in at once. Doesn't work well for formulaic telly sometimes.

That being said...I still really wish he could have been a Marvel character. As much as I love BC, I think Arthur would have made an excellent Doctor Strange!

*HUGS*
kaffyr
Jan. 31st, 2016 10:40 pm (UTC)
Hmmm ... you may be right about Arthur being an excellent Dr. Strange - he'd have to put up with getting his hair and beard died darker than they are right now, but he's certainly got the acting chops, doesn't he?
a_phoenixdragon
Jan. 31st, 2016 10:43 pm (UTC)
He did Faust. Played the devil. Wouldn't be a stretch methinks...would hate to see the honey-hair go, but it wouldn't require much darkening, really. He'd look fab either way, lol! And he certainly has the presence - and the chops. :D

Want Matt to be in Marvel as well (for completion). As a villian. Which would be totally lovely and would give me the shivers for all the right (and wrong) reasons!

*HUGS*
kaffyr
Jan. 31st, 2016 11:00 pm (UTC)
He did Faust.

I'd forgotten about that; yes, he could definitely do it.

I want Matt to play a hero, one who doesn't die by zombies (which I very much fear is going to be his fate in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies") be a psycopath or get killed by the hero. Yes, he'd make a great villain, you bad girl, you ... but still ....
a_phoenixdragon
Jan. 31st, 2016 11:11 pm (UTC)
LOL!! Sorry, sorry...got a very, very SMALL taste in Terminator when he played the sentient SkyNet. And it was delicious. And gorgeous. And terribly well done. I do love him as a hero. And I adore the odd roles he picks. He is also playing Prince Phillip in The Crown (coming to Netflix) and he is playing Patient Zero in an apocalypse movie. I rather love him in all things. I just wish more people would let him have the reins because he has excellent self control and knows what to do for each moment...too many directors seem to restrict him in the oddest of areas in a few things I have seen him in.

And I'm rambling now, lol!!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )