Home / TV / Small Screen DC Superheroics

Small Screen DC Superheroics

I’ve had a bit of a strange journey with respect to the small screen DC TV series. I had a strange love-hate relationship with Arrow, though I was watching until it finally got a true and laborious slog during season four (2015 – 2016). Then The Flash took up the slack with two beautiful series of wonder. Then we got series three of The Flash which lost some of the wonder for, well, a darker series that got a bit of a laborious slog (2016 – 2017).

I really liked the first series of Supergirl (2015 – 2016) and I thought Legends (2016) had a sort of adventurous and crazy charm during its first series. The trouble is time meant I never started the second series of either of those shows.

I’m still not 100% sure why that happened with Supergirl.

Catching Up For Crises on Earth-X

The DC TV shows did something pretty brave in 2016 – 2017, they did a crossover across all four of the DC shows. I often say the DC shows are very 90’s TV shows but milling around in the time of peak TV. The crossover episodes are also a very 90’s thing.

I decided to catch up on the various series in order to watch the crossover episode Invasion! It wasn’t worth doing as I couldn’t get into the crossover and I thought it was pretty dire. I then never progressed with the DC shows. It was that uninspiring.

Now I’m being sucked in again as I’ve heard that Crises on Earth-X is pretty, damned fine. I’ve recently done a DC show binge up to the point of the crossover and then watched it. This has given me a fresh view on the various shows.

4. Arrow

Okay, I have to admit I could not bring myself to watch Arrow. While the investment of time to catch-up wasn’t significantly different to Supergirl I just couldn’t do it. Arrow broke me in series four and I figured I could probably get through Crises on Earth-X without catching up on one of the shows.

I realise this is cheating, but I doubt Arrow has improved so significantly that I’d consider it a better show than The Flash or Supergirl. So we’d only be talking about whether it was better than Legends and that wasn’t worth the significant investment of time.

3. Crazy Time Travelling Madness

It’s not that Legends is bad, it delivers what it sets out to deliver very proficiently. It’s just what that is isn’t my type of show. Legends is about time travel. It’s about time travel in the same way Doctor Who is about time travel. It’s basically just an excuse to jump around time and have crazy adventures, often a bunch of crazy bollocks you’d call complicated if it wasn’t such…bollocks.

Legends delivers adventure romps in various time periods. What it doesn’t deliver is dramatic character development of any significant weight. This continues the 90’s feel of the DC shows but in Legends case it is one of those 90’s shows that trundles on forever while offering less weighty material than, say, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. I guess it’s a bit like Hercules: Legendary Journeys or Xena: Warrior Princess in that regard, though tonally it’s not that similar. It also doesn’t have the glimpses of originality, irony and flare that those series had.

The villains of series two don’t really work. I wanted the return of the ‘Reverse Flash’ to work but it doesn’t, you just end up with three villainous rejects from Arrow, in two cases, and The Flash. Malcolm Merlin having over-stayed his welcome in Arrow a long time ago so it’s particularly lazy he’s still hanging around on Legends. It’s a bit sad that Legends doesn’t get iconic and worthwhile villains of their own once season one was done.

The episodes I’ve watched of series three of Legends are really bad. I’ve got no idea if it’s going to get better as the big bad they keep alluding to does sound mildly interesting. The trouble is the new set-up of them finding and solving relatively innocuous and small scale anachronisms, often with a humorous bent, are really dragging the series down. Then we have Damien Darhk.

I really wish the DC TV series would stop using Damien Darhk.

To use the much touted analogy of a meal, Legends may not be a distasteful meal but neither is it a very memorable or satisfying one. I nearly stopped the journey to Crises on Earth-X a number of times but there was enough bollocks to continue.

2. The Flash, The Thinker and Plastoid

I had some hope for series four of The Flash, primarily because the team behind the show had recognised they needed to dial back the darker elements of the show in series four. The odd thing about the ‘dark’ elements of the show is they’re not actually that dark, they just drag on way too long. I don’t think anyone would mind darker stories in The Flash if they were part of a varied pallet of shorter arcs. Instead of the dragged out mode of an entire season.

The trouble is they seem to have decided that not being as dark means putting in dire humour.

Season 4 introduces us to Ralph Dibny, who even has a patented comedy side-kick name. Not only does the character have a comedy side-kick name, he has the comedy power of stretching and they’ve picked an actor who looks and acts like a cut-price Jim Carrey. They even give him the most stupid of costumes just to seal the deal.

It’s slapstick and stupidity all the way and it’s not remotely funny, it’s just continuously eye rollingly annoying.

All this is a pity as the villain in series four, based on the seven episodes I’ve seen, is absolutely brilliant. The repeated use of Speedster enemies in The Flash got boring after season one. The Reverse Flash has the iconic Speedster v Speedster feel, a story worth doing, but the rest were just lamer repeats. Now we’re back to iconic territory with the fastest man against the fastest thinker. Brilliant. DeVoe’s story, the way he is played and his wife have been one of the stand out elements of season four so far and once I’ve got through Crises on Earth-X it will be because of DeVoe I’m going to continue to watch.

I just take the painful body blows every time Plastoid comes on and undercuts the show.

1. Supergirl

I’ve really enjoyed Supergirl series two and I’m loving series three so far. The challenge of a Supergirl show (or a Superman one for that matter) is it has to inspiring, uplifting and iconic while remaining dramatically interesting. You also have an altruistic, almost indestructible hero. Unlike some people I don’t believe these ingredients will always create a boring show, it’s just harder to do in terms of writing and acting.

Supergirl is a clever show, it’s successful because it combines humour, brilliantly done diverse relationships, an excellent mix of old superhero show actors as guest stars and recurring characters, the special effects deliver both awesome battles at scale and also the intense moments like every time Supergirl uses her eye beams and on top of all this the show is so inspirational that, at times, the show is positively emotional.

Then we have Melissa Benoist who delivers one of the most unappreciated performances on TV, but then everyone who performs such roles well always does.

Benoist delivers great performance as Kara Danvers, a good to honest secret identity, but her performance as Supergirl is nothing but sublime. She is altruistic yet gets angry. She’ll always make the sacrifice yet you always feel it every time she does it. You believe she is Kryptonian when you need to and an endearing human girl when necessary. She also nails the physicality of Supergirl in every moment. Last, but by no means least, despite being a Superhero who can’t fundamentally change much for long periods of time, she delivers a character you are continually enthralled by.

Supergirl is just ace.

Crises on Earth-X

They may have failed to pull off Invasion last year, but they really got it right with Crises on Earth-X. They nailed it, slam-dunked it and hit out of the park like a Kryptonian.

Crises on Earth-X is brilliant.

The main problem with Invasion was its pacing was terrible and it felt like four episodes of the individual TV series mashed together. It just wasn’t exciting. I still don’t think I’ve watched it all the way through. The key changes Earth-X introduces is it just delivers a story four episodes long and completely casts aside the fact that it is across four different shows.

It’s just an ‘almost three hours long’ mini-series.

There is nothing really to dislike about Earth-X. The pacing is brilliant and it never gets boring. The interactions between all the characters is brilliantly done despite the need to find time for their evil counterparts. Alex Danvers and Sara Lance are amazing together. The interactions and philosophical debates between Supergirl and Nazi Supergirl are brilliant. The Nazi Supergirl is also very well acted. She’s not hammed up and over the top, but she’s clearly someone else. It’s amazing that each character gets their moments.

The best thing about it all? Despite the multiple worlds, evil versions of existing characters, the plethora characters it is, and always remains, intensely personal across the protagonists.

Crises of Earth-X is just ridiculously good.

And, Finally…

After catching up I’m not going to continue watching all the shows, though the effort has renewed my interest in Supergirl and I never really lost it for The Flash. At the moment, the show I’m enjoying the most is Supergirl. It’s just brilliantly done. The Flash v The Thinker confrontation also has me intrigued.

While I can understand the appeal of Legends of Tomorrow it just doesn’t have enough dramatic weight for me. While I compare all the DC shows to 90’s TV shows, Legends is a bit like one of those perpetually average 90’s TV shows that delivers a lot of zany stuff but doesn’t really stick the character drama. I’m not going to continue with it.

The challenge for the future, as I’m sure they’re going to continue to do these cross-overs every season, is whether I can watch the future ones without having to do this massive catch-up? I think so, after all, I’ve not watched Arrow and those elements worked fine. I also don’t think I needed to be current with Legends.

Let’s see what they do next year, but Crises on Earth-X is just a fantastic addition to the whole TV superheroes thing.

About Ian O'Rourke

Check Also

Things To Try In 2017

Really? Am I really doing this? My history of these things is usually terrible. I …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *