I have pretty much given up on the DC TV-verse. I didn’t want to. But now that we’ve had a taste of genuine rogue John Constantine, even one of my favorite characters of all time, Green Arrow, can’t keep me engaged. Mostly because our dear demonologist reminded me this Green Arrow is a whiny, dour, paternalistic, douchebag.
The Flash, which has kept itself alive on my watchlist as the goofier, younger sibling went *splat* with the midseason premiere. The reasons are legion and previously ranted about by myself and others.
After the above debacles, I considered, even having been rather excited previously, skipping Legends of Tomorrow all together.
In the end, I watched.
And in the end I was pleased.
The pilot of Legends was a lot of fun. It was witty and action-filled. There was theft, mayhem, and a time-bounty hunter. The bad guys were snide and roguish and the good guys were wacky and I laughed a lot. For those of us who are also Doctor Who fans, there was the added element of a meta-self-referential running gag that was perpetual but not obnoxious and frequently giggle worthy (though, as one GeekMom commented, I did keep waiting for someone to comment on the Waverider being, “Bigger on the inside…”).
The ensemble format doesn’t always work, especially for live action shows, but it’s working here, at least for now. There’s enough variation in character and temperment, from Ray Palmer’s earnest desire to be a hero to Captain Cold’s delicious deviousness to Jax’s uncertainty to the Hawks… well, whatever those two are going through. I like the added element of no one quite trusting Rip Hunter, because none of us are that interested in a stable, solid team; they’re boring. Heroes who are also lying liars who lie present some variation and some depth, a potential element of surprise.
Everyone on this team has strengths but they also have glaring weaknesses and the later, used correctly, make for less typical, less cliched interpersonal-dynamics, an especially important aspect of any show wherein the main characters are existing in a small space they frequently find themselves unable to leave. If you can’t move, that which you are discussing and the ways in which you do so need to be engaging or even explosive.
The pilot’s dialogue was decent, which isn’t always the case on the CW/DC property shows and the scenery chewing was of perfect proportion and timing. I think we can all agree Heatwave stole the show in both regards, with Dominic Purcell’s deadpan, psychopathic delivery spot-on. Seriously, I would watch him and Wentworth Miller snark about paint drying for hours and I didn’t even watch Prison Break. Stein (Victor Garber) had a few great moments as well, and I can never help but love Ray Palmer’s (Brandon Routh) hangdog, giant puppy eyed need to make the world a better place.
So, yes. It was good. It was fun. In was an hour I don’t regret spending in front of the television.
It was not, however, perfect and there are some potential glaring issues.
The first? The Hawks. I know that the contentious, fraught nature of their relationship is canon. And that’s fine. Most relationships are, at one time or another, contentious, and theirs is going on four thousand years with interruptions and readjustments. Kendra (Ciara Renee), however, when last we saw her on The Flash was only just starting to remember Carter (Falk Hentschel) and their history.
It appears, however, that, provided time moves the same way in that particular universe as it does here, the pair are in some sort of relationship when we catch up with the just a few months later in Legends. To some, this may seem romantic and maybe I’m just cynical, but to me, it seems creepy.
Regardless of their history, Kendra didn’t seem to like Carter all that much, nor did she trust him. He was trying to force her back into a mold into which she wasn’t sure she wanted to fit and yet, there she is. He is frequently manipulative and it appears their only means of resolving domestic disputes is to beat the crap out of one another. Which, whether or not it’s mutually agreed upon carries some shades of domestic violence on both sides I’m not entirely comfortable with, canon or no. I’m willing to give their storyline some time to develop but I have to say, at this point, it makes me uncomfortable at best.
There is also the issue of one Miss Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). When last we saw her she was leaving Star City and embarking on a voyage of rediscovery after surviving the Lazarus Pit and the fallout of its powers. We see her first in a… erm… bar, I guess, in rural Tibet (did anyone else expect Marion drinking some random goat-herder under the table in the corner and Indy to pop in with a bullwhip? No? Just me?) where she beats the crap out of a guy trying to force himself on another woman. Which was awesome. Next, she’s back in the Arrow Cave, sparring and having a heart to heart with her sister, Laurel (Kate Cassidy), during which they discuss Sara’s opportunity to step out of the shadows and “into the light.” After which she, Captain Cold, and Heatwave leave the Waverider and start a fight at a roadhouse.
Which… I don’t know. Seemed… weird to me. I get that Sara is conflicted. I get that she’s still trying to figure out exactly who she is and how to survive her post-Pit existence. The writers have an awesome opportunity to develop her, to have her grow and change and become complete again. My fear, however, is that their intent is just to use her as an object the way they have Laurel, Felicity, Iris, and Patty. That her actions in the pilot aren’t evidence of conflict but, instead, sloppy and inconsistent writing wherein she isn’t White Canary but, rather, Ray’s mission or Cold/Heat’s bloody-knuckled damsel. It wouldn’t be the first time for this crew and I doubt it will be the last.
As for the arch-nemesis of the piece? Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) has a long, long history in the DCU. He has been the chief architect of some of the most terrible regimes in human history but his story doesn’t begin and end with the Hawks. I understand them making the change to weave plot-threads together but the fact of the matter is, Savage as he’s always been wasn’t terrifying because he had a specific mission; he was terrifying because he didn’t.
He was terrifying because he was willing to initiate the slaughter of thousands or even millions because he was immortal and he was bored. Yes, he wanted money and power and all of those things. But he acted as Hitler’s muse (can you imagine how horrible you have to be to be Hitler’s muse) because he couldn’t think of anything better to do. The Vandal Savage presented to us thus far is a super-generic super villain with nothing remarkable about him other than his life span and his jealousy that Shayera chose Khufu over him (as always, let’s blame the woman for the fall of humanity, by the way. *sarcasm font*). If I’m going to follow him, if I’m going to care whether he’s defeated or not, I’m going to need a little more than that. A little more of the “real” Savage, as it were. Because right now? Meh. And as all of us comic folks know, a good villain is the make or break of any story containing one.
Is Legends of Tomorrow worth watching? Yes.
Will it continue to be worth watching? I’m not sure yet. I do try not to make a judgment on the entirety of a series based on the pilot though I find myself deciding more quickly whether or not I’m going to stay with a show than I used to. Probably because I have exponentially less time to watch TV than I used to. It would be nice for DC to give us something on par with Marvel’s small screen offerings, both on network television and through other outlets (full disclosure, I only watch the first half-season of Agents of Shield, but they can’t all be winners for everyone). The DC foundations are decent, but the houses always seem to fall down.
Whether or not the house the Legends build can last remains to be seen.
Legends of Tomorrow airs on The CW Network, Thursdays at 8pm EST.