TV Review: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (Season 1) – Critical Suspension Of Disbelief Required
DC Comics’ stable of characters are currently dominating the small screen on The CW network with three shows, and they’ve recently also acquired a fourth show from CBS for the next season. The network originally started with ‘Arrow’, (better known as the TV Batman) and then extended their reach out to ‘The Flash‘, successfully. Then the experiments continued as last year, Greg Berlanti, the man responsible, took multiple minor supporting characters introduced in both these shows, and began a unique anthology styled adventure series called ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’.
With Season 1 of the experiment concluded let’s find out how this series did in particular on The CW and why it is that I personally enjoy it, sometimes even more so than the two, much better shows on the same network and in the same universe.
Read on for my my Season 1 Review of ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’. (‘LoT’)
The entire premise for DC’s ‘Legends Of Tomorrow‘ is based on time travel. A man from the future calling himself Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) arrives in 2016 and recruits a team of heroes, villains and miscellaneous in order to stop the destruction of the world at the hands of an immortal named Vandal Savage, (Casper Crump) introduced on an earlier episode of ‘The Flash’. (S2E8 – ‘Legends Of Today’)
The pilot episode sets the stage very well, as it’s revealed to the the group, originally lured with promises of heroism and noble intentions, that the real agenda is for Rip to save his own family from being murdered by Savage. The group themselves aren’t even heroes in the future, but insignificant to the timeline, so their possible deaths won’t affect any change on the universe. Despite this revelation, this band of wanna be heroes, anti heroes, and straight up villains continue on the quest, as they jump back and forth between multiple eras and times, chasing Savage in a season long adventure to stop his rise to power.
The series features an ensemble cast of characters, with new and veteran actors each fitting the bill perfectly. The ‘Prison Break’ duo Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell reprise their roles from ‘The Flash‘ as Captain Cold & Heatwave, and their story arc in the series is one of the better ones, as they go from selfish villains to resembling something of a hero by the end.
Caity Lotz continues the arc of her character Sara Lance from ‘Arrow‘, as she finds new purpose in this adventure and tries to overcome her bloodlust. Former Superman himself, Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer is given a bit more to do as the character carries his baggage from ‘Arrow‘ and tries to find renewed sense of optimism and hope, while learning to love again.
The weaker members of the cast consists of Fran Drameh as Jax, the other, new half of the Firestorm from ‘The Flash’, however Victor Garber evens out the young actor’s inexperience, and their banter and polar opposite pairing makes for some very humorous light hearted moments. Where it kind of falls apart, for me at least, is with the lynchpin of this cast, in Arthur Darvill himself. The Brit actor is very heavy handed in his deliveries and his character is devoid of anything that is cool, other then always seeming like he thinks he is.
Another aspect of the show that bugs me, is one that actually carries over from ‘The Flash‘, with the introduction of Ciara Renee’s Kendra / Hawkgirl. While the origins of her reincarnation was explained, the entire season fails to provide any legitimate or even fake sciencey reason behind her wings. They don’t seem to be physical, but rather psionic, but there is no mention of it whatsoever. But I digress…
‘Legends Of Tomorrow‘ is by no means a perfect show. But it’s use of a purely idealistic adventure concept as the foundation is something that is refreshing and, quite honestly, exciting. Sure the stories have massive plot holes, (like why can’t they just chain and throw Savage in a box underwater or bury him, the hundreds of times they had a chance to capture him, even if he can’t die?!) and the acting is ham fisted and over the top, but ‘LoT‘ maintains a baggage-free viewing experience that doesn’t get weighed down, as its counter parts on the same network.
Sci-Fi and Fantasy shows were never considered to be legitimate, but purely for entertainment value. TV shows like ‘Flash Gordon‘ and ‘Buck Rogers‘ and others if its ilk, now considered B-Grade versions of what we’re used to today, are still memorable and esteemed in the minds and hearts of that generation. Not because they had the best production values, tightest scripts or even believable acting… but simply because of the genuine desire to suspend disbelief by the fans, where the concept of adventure overwhelmed all else, and the excitement of every twist and idea was enjoyed purely without criticism or complaint.
Since then the genre has been given a lot more credibility through Box Office returns, critical acclaim, even Oscar nods. However, with that acclaim, comes a harsher look at those works, and I feel like that’s why the show rounds out the bottom of Collider.com’s worst superhero TV show list. While the show can be heavily critisized and torn down, and justifiably so, the passionate ferver with which it presents itself, never being too serious in tone and always being grandiose in style and execution, is what I find so appealing about the show.
Not to mention the fact that the show makes some bold choices in Season 1, that is surprising for a debut show. Separating a group of characters from the core, causing them to be alone for years, having to survive and build new lives while only minutes pass for the others, is a massive disruption of the status quo, creating further plot points, that are leveraged very well later on. Taking one of the core characters of the show and almost creating a time paradox whereby he is also the major villain of the first half of the season, then having to redeem himself for the other half takes cojones that other networks may not ever be able to do.
Each episode can be experienced with complete carefree joy, never taking anything too seriously, but still being engaged by the story enough to commit to the characters. ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’ is one of very few shows on television that can be experienced at face value from beginning to end, and without warranting further criticism. (as it would clearly fall apart at that point)
‘Legends Of Tomorrow’ is far beyond comparison to the shows with emotional substance such as its predecessors on The CW, but in a time of television where new shows are unable to make it past it’s debut season, and others are too many seasons in to be able to jump in mid stream, ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’ provides a more light hearted experience where the cheese is what’s on the menu, and it’s delicious.