TV Review: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

by T. Mack

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While the MCU has dominated the movie market with the most stellar superhero films since ever, DC has managed to have a terrific presence on network television. Shows like Arrow and The Flash, both on the CW, as well as Supergirl on CBS have been well-received by critics and audiences. DC is working to expand this successful empire by introducing more heroes and setting up spin-offs and companion shows to its established roster. Last night, the Arrow/Flash spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow, premiered on the CW. The show promises a wilder ride than either of its predecessors, but is the energy sustainable? 
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The set-up for Legends isn’t exactly simple. And the roster is vast. This makes the show quite an ambitious undertaking, to say the least. Eight characters previously introduced in The Flash and/or Arrow are brought together by Rip Hunter, a time traveler (called a Time Master) from the year 2166. Six of these characters are considered heroes. The other two are criminals. Hunter needs them all to travel with him through time to stop the immortal super-villain, Vandal Savage, from taking over and destroying the world. The ragtag band of heroic misfits includes: Sara Lance a.k.a. White Canary (Caity Lotz); Ray Palmer a.k.a. The Atom (Brandon Routh); Leonard Snart a.k.a. Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller); Mick Rory a.k.a. Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell); Kendra Saunders a.k.a. Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee); Dr. Martin Stein a.k.a. Firestorm (Victor Garber); Carter Hall a.k.a. Hawkman (Falk Hentschel); and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson a.k.a Firestorm (Franz Drameh). Yes, you read right. No, it’s not a typo. Both Stein and Jax are known as Firestorm. They merge into a single superhero who is basically the DC version of The Human Torch.

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As you can imagine, eight heroes plus one “Time Master” multiplied by time travel is sure to equal some seriously crazy adventures. Before airing the premiere, the CW gave audiences a taste of what they were in for with a half-hour special which gave background on each of the characters and an explanation of what we can expect from the series. Andrew Kreisberg, an Executive Producer of Legends as well as The Flash and Arrow, explained that “If Arrow is vigilante crime drama and The Flash is superhero adventure family show, then Legends of Tomorrow is utterly bananas.” Greg Berlanti, also an Executive Producer on all three show, agreed, saying, “If Arrow is tough and dark and brooding and Flash is warm and fuzzy and fun, Legends is just insane and crazy.”

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As a fan of both The Flash and Arrow who has now sat through the first episode of Legends, I’m inclined to agree with both men. The new series finds a fun but weighty tone somewhere in between those of its predecessors. The battle action, however, is on a whole new level. Instead of one person–or in the case of Arrow, a small contingency of 2-4 people–battling villains, Legends has eight. Each of the eight has specific skills, abilities and weaponry that make them stand out. When they all battle together, it can be hard to know where to look, especially when five of the eight have the ability to fly. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. It ensures the new show can bring something neither of its predecessors can. Also, the large roster of heroes creates lots of options for combinations and team-ups within the group to keep things interesting. Even in the first episode, the team split up into three groups, with one hunting down answers, another causing mischief and the third trying desperately not to be killed until the others returned.

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The new show also takes the science fiction element to new heights within the DC TV universe. By adding the element of time travel, the show becomes more complex, complicated and outlandish than any of those that proceed it. It’s kind of like the show, Doctor Who, stopped by the CW for a one-night stand and left the series, The Flash, knocked up. Legends  is that love child. As a bonus, Arthur Darville, who was the beloved Last Centurian companion on DW, is now a Time Master driving the ship that travels through time. That’s the equivalent of the love child having its father’s eyes.

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All these promising elements mean very little, however, if the show is no good. Fortunately, it seems likely that the show will be a winner. The group works well together, with some characters having terrific chemistry and others rubbing against each other in a way that creates a bit of friction. Both elements are needed to make things interesting. The different personalities create a complex cocktail that includes sweetness, optimism, sarcasm, jadedness, sexual tension, self-doubt and loyalty. There is large dose of humor, which especially appeals to me, as well as a fair share of selfishness. As all this mixes together, there is sure to be a result of conflict within each of the characters as well as throughout the group as a whole. All this before the group even faces the actual forces they are meant to fight. In an ensemble this large, all these elements should come together nicely in a recipe that will create an interesting and intriguing series. Yes, it will be convoluted. Time travel always creates confusion and plot holes that can’t neatly be filled. But I find if you just go with it and suppress the nagging questions of logic, a great time can usually be had by everyone.

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The acting is solid, if not ground-breaking, and the effects are clean enough that you don’t really stop to think about them. The set-up is incredibly rushed through most of the pilot, but slows down at the end to create a comfortable pace. It’s hard to know if subsequent episodes will have the hurried feel present at the beginning of the pilot or the more easy feeling we got toward the end. The show would do well to find a pace in between the two. In a group this large, every viewer is bound to find a character or set of characters who will be their favorite. And almost just as surely, they will find at least one they aren’t particularly partial to. But with screen time spread between so many, no character should have too much time to irritate those who don’t like them.

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I, personally, don’t care for Carter. I find him too pushy with Kendra. I mean, seriously, get out of her grill man! If she’s destined to love you, it’ll happen. You being all pushy and possessive and creepy isn’t helping the process. Back up and let her breathe, dude. Damn! **Rant over**

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I believe Legends definitely has what it takes to fall nicely into the DC TV universe and coast easily for three or more seasons. As long as creators are careful with it. Time travel can be a tricky business and if they don’t take care to keep a tight hold on the story, things could easily get away from them and spiral out of control to a place viewers aren’t willing to follow. Also, it would be easy to try and rush through stories and exhaust three years worth of plot in only one and a half seasons. As long as the minds behind the show don’t make those mistakes, I think viewers should settle in for a nice, long, wild and crazy ride with the crew of the Waverider.

Rating: 3.5 SHIELDS

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To get a taste for the show, check out the trailer below.

Have you seen DC’s Legends of Tomorrow? What did you like or dislike? If you haven’t seen it, will you check it out? If not, why? Are you a fan of Arrow and The Flash? What elements would you love to see carried over from those shows to this new one? Hit the comments and let me know. 

 

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