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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

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.



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...
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!

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