Thursday, February 18, 2016

Random fanboy thoughts: Superhero TV edition

"Agent Carter": Sadly, I haven't seen all the episodes because of my Tuesday work schedule. Even though I've enjoyed what I've seen, it's lost a certain zinc from Season(ette) 1.

Regardless, Hayley Atwell remains one of the most striking actresses in Hollywood. As Jarvis told Peggy Carter in one of Tuesday's back-to-back episodes, she underestimates her appeal. Atwell gives Agent Carter the perfect mix of class and sass. Grade: B

"Arrow": As solid as ever, "Arrow" Season 4 has improved over the third season in some part to the much stronger flashback sequences.

More importantly, the series has settled into being DC Entertainment's foundation of small-screen superheroes (in other words, the launchpad for TV's Justice League and/or expanding the DC Universe on TV).

"Arrow" also has found its groove as an unlikely ensemble series. At the same time it's not terribly surprising since the cast chemistry is nothing less than spectacular — and that's reflected in how the actors and actresses genuinely seem to like hanging around each other, as seen in the photos and selflies they post on their various Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The Oliver Queen-Felicity Smoak love story has been a delight; it's a credit to the writers, actors and creative team to see a hero being comfortable with being in love. Yet, the newly named Green Arrow still feels burdened with many circumstances that are well beyond his control. Queen and Felicity's engagement allows star Stephen Amell to show off even more of his acting chops, not to mention his winning smile he doesn't bust out too often as Queen/Green Arrow. Grade: A

"DC's Legends of Tomorrow": This is The CW's true ensemble series, but has yet to find a groove.

"Legends" struggles the most when the entire group is onscreen at the same time. That's when it seems like the writers struggle to make sure each character gets a line of dialogue and/or has something to do — not unlike the cluttered pages from Silver Age-era comics with tons and tons of word balloons. Also, as much as I generally enjoy the fight scenes, they border on being chaotic for much the same reason.

The series is at its best when the more unusual characters pair up (Captain Cold and Atom) or let's be honest when sultry actress Caity Lotz's White Canary pretty much does anything: Unleashes some kick-ass fight moves, dances, rocks a clingy and funky 1970s dress or gets her femme fatale on — all which makes for her tough-girl sex appeal.

And am I the only fan who is disappointed that a time-travel series has only made it to the 1960s and 1970s (aside from ancient Egypt flashbacks)? The concept means the team can go anywhere. At anytime in history. The very concept means the series writers are only limited by their imagination and budget. (That's something I was so jived about when I previewed "Legends" back in May. So this isn't a new issue for me!)

"Legends" could be more legendary by taking more risks with there these misfits go. Grade: B-

"Gotham": Thanks to "Supergirl" also being on at 8 p.m. Mondays, I have no reason to watch this far too bloody and grotesque FOX series that focuses too much on Batman's future series rather than the most interesting character that drives the show: Jim Gordon. And isn't it an indictment when one of the least interesting characters in the series is the young Bruce Wayne? Grade: C

"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.EL.D.": This series outgrew its usefulness a long time ago. I still say the best use of "Agents" is to actually put the characters into Marvel Comics-inspired James Bond-"Mission: Impossible" situations. Instead, the show is nothing more than the directionless play-thing of Marvel Studios.

Just when I find something that's interesting, there's something else that bores me to tears. Unlike "Gotham," I likely will tune when "Agents" returns after the second season of "Marvel's Agent Carter" is done. But that's only because there's nothing else to watch.  Grade: C-


"Supergirl": Funny how the Girl of Steel is doing nothing but getting stronger as the season progresses.

"Supergirl" isn't afraid to explore the importance of family or even the friend zone. Star Melissa Benoist's chemistry with Chyler Leigh makes Kara Danver's relationship with her Earth sister  pay off. (And is it's not just me who thinks Alex Danvers looks sexy in her Department of Extranormal Operations fatigues, right?!) And now that Alex has a trusting work relationship with Hank Henshaw, things really click with the DEO and Team Supergirl.

David Harewood's Henshaw started out not just grumpy, but downright unlikable. Now that he and Alex are on the same page -- not to mention Henshaw has trusted his second-in-command with the fact he's J'onn J'onzz (better known as the Martian Manhunter -- fangasm!) -- the two characters are an even bigger complement to an already solid cast.

Henshaw isn't the only character to grow over this season. Calista Flockhart has made Cat Grant surprisingly deeper than the self-absorbed diva as we'd first seen. After all, Harewood can't have all the fun being the grump-meister on "Supergirl," right?!
Hank Henshaw's reveal as J'onn J'onnz (aka the Martian Manhunter) may have been the biggest reveal of any
of the superhero TV series this season.
gif courtesy of MTV.com
In short, I'd have a hard time choosing between "Arrow, "The Flash" and "Supergirl" over which series I enjoy more or which episode I'd hate to miss the most. It might be "Supergirl" by a speeding bullet. (Sorry, Flash!) Grade: A

"The Flash": Despite a slow start to Season 2, this series has gained speed and momentum. (And I promise you those speedster puns weren't intended!)

Barry Allen's promising romance with Detective Patty Spivot  was cut short. Waaay too short!

Star Grant Gustin and actress Shantel VanSanten have wonderful chemistry and Patty's down-to-earth personality is a good balance for Allen, who like his good friend Oliver Queen, seems to think he's responsible for everything. When Allen broke it off with Patty, but she figured out a sneaky way to confirm he's The Flash, my heart just broke. It just seemed like Allen was looking for an excuse for a relationship with Patty not to work out. Here's hoping we haven't seen the last of her.

Having "The Flash" explore Earth-2 is a natural continuation of where Season 1 was heading and is the perfect fit for the speedster's universe -- especially if you've read any of THE FLASH comics. Unfortunately, I missed the first of the Team Flash-on-Earth-2 episodes ... damn work!

Teddy Sears as Jay Garrick has been a great addition, but it's disappointing the writers haven't used the Earth-2 Flash as more of a mentor to Allen's Flash.

I'm not a fan of Cisco's Impulse powers; they seem to only crop up when it's convenient to solve a sticky storyline problem. On the other hand, I'm all in with my favorite Team Flash lab rats, Cisco and Caitlin, getting more opportunities for romance. (But not with each other -- duh!)

The ensemble cast, like those in "Arrow" and "Supergirl," remains its strength. Grade: A-

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