Welcome back to the Weekly Nerd! Fall is upon us and (insert Game of Thrones reference here). With the new season comes the return of our cable comic book TV shows! While I am still struggling with whether I want to actually watch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and have essentially given up on Gotham, that still leaves me with quite a few other programs to check out. At this point, I am two episodes into The Flash, two episodes into Arrow, one episode of Supergirl and three episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I thought it would be fun to talk about some early impressions for these shows. So let’s dive in! But first…
Spoiler warning! This post will contain spoilers for the early episodes of the current seasons of The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Okay, now we can dive in.
Things kick off quite quickly in this season of The Flash. At the end of last season, Barry Allen decided to go back in time and save his mother from getting stabbed to death by the Reverse Flash. Now to the uninitiated, this sounds like insane time travel bullshit. To DC comics fans, this may sound suspiciously like the Flashpoint Paradox storyline that led to the New 52 run of comics a few years back. I would say both parties are correct. Obviously because this is a TV program, the whole Flashpoint thing is on a much smaller scale, but certainly, has interesting implications for the direction of the show this season. Barry in his everlasting wisdom decides that there could not possibly be any repercussions from FUCKING WITH TIME LIKE A JACKASS so he decides to live in this reality. By the end of the first episode, he realizes that he has gone done screwed up, so he tried to fix things by watching his mom die for literally the third or fourth time. However, when he goes back to his regular timeline, he realizes that things are still not back to normal and the confusion that is time travel in a network television show continues.
One thing that The Flash does quite well is its use of weirder aspects of the comic books unabashedly. Last season we got weirdness from Earth-2, which gave us fun alternate looks at Barry and his Scooby gang. Episode one gave us some great stuff with a hilariously rich and somewhat disconnected Cisco, Caitlyn as an optometrist that had absolutely no familiarity with superheroes, a weirdly drunk Joe, and an Iris that does not know Barry. The best part of this episode was getting to see Wally as Kid Flash. The Flash has never shied away from putting its heroes and villains in colourful costumes and this episode is no exception. It was incredibly cool to see Wally wearing Kid Flash’s distinctive yellow and red. I only hope we get to see this again in the near future.
I also enjoyed the fact that when Barry went back and tried to fix the timeline, he realized things were still weird and kind of messed up. His idiotic decision to time travel is making waves and I hope we continue to see the consequences. I also like the introduction of the possible season-long villain, Doctor Alchemy. He is intriguing because he seems to know about the desperate timelines and he has the ability to give people powers that they had in their parallel lives. I am curious if his powers will be similar to their comic book origins. I definitely appreciate the fact that his main villain is not ANOTHER DAMN EVIL SPEEDSTER.
Speaking of evil speedsters, I feel that the weakest part of the two episodes were the meta-human villain, The Rival. The character had little impact and his battle with The Flash and Kid Flash was not even close to as intense as the previous tussles with Zoom or Reverse Flash. It seems we will likely be finished with this clown, so hopefully the show will be done with evil speedsters for a little while.
I always struggle with Arrow. In the second half of season one and all of season two, I felt this was a legitimately good show. In some ways I still do. The last couple of seasons have really suffered from an overabundance of flashbacks, pointless relationship turmoil and boring plots to destroy Star City. I mean, every goddamn villain is all like “STAR CITY IS A VIRUS THAT MUST BE PURGED”. Just stop already. Urg.
While TV Oliver Queen will likely never be the Green Arrow I know from the comics, I do believe that Stephen Amell (Heartland, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) continues to do a fantastic job of bringing gravitas to this hero. Another thing the show continues to keep getting better at is their fight choreography. The hand to hand combat in Arrow is superior to most big budget comic book movies. Episode one and two had several well-shot action scenes as well as an incredibly impressive motorbike stunt.
This season starts off with Oliver’s respective Scooby gang disbanded. With Black Canary dead, Diggle overseas with the military and Thea not wanting to fight anymore, Oliver was in a bit of a holding pattern, struggling to keep the city safe. He is also the Mayor now. Okay, clearly this is my opinion, but in this day and age, the idea that a superhero could keep their identity a secret is barely believable as it is. But the Mayor being able to hide his identity? Sure, why not?
This show continues to use flashbacks as a really frustrating plot device. The flashbacks happen often and they interrupt the pacing of the episode, which is very annoying. I understand that they are developing Oliver’s past, but at this point, it is almost comical how messed up his five years away from home were. Also, the main villain this season is an evil archer. Because Oliver has not faced that type of enemy before. Except for season one when he faced Merlyn. Prometheus in the comics seems quite a bit different than this version of the villain. There are at least two iterations of Prometheus that are basically normal humans with incredible combat abilities, but I don’t think either of them use a bow and arrow. I swear, if there is another plot where Green Arrow is being framed, I will lose it… but I will still keep watching. Despite my annoyances with this show, I cannot help but keep coming back. Like The Flash, this show uses its comic book origins quite well, so it is always a pleasure to see what characters and easter eggs will pop up. Oliver is now training a new team of heroes, so we will finally get to see a live-action version of Mr. Terrific! I mean, I can’t be the only person who has wanted this for years, right?
While I love the idea of the show, I never got into Supergirl. I really tried to watch the show, but it just did not endear itself to me. The cheesy special effects, the poor fight choreography and the lack of interesting characters made it a little difficult for me to watch. I did, however, find the show quite charming.
There are two reasons I decided to give season 2 of Supergirl a shot. First of all, Supergirl is now on the CW with Arrow and The Flash. Apparently, there will be a massive crossover even between these three shows along with Legends of Tomorrow. Secondly, after some hilariously corny glimpses of Superman, this season will actually feature the Man of Steel himself. I am surprised that Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf, Everybody Wants Some!!) did a pretty good job portraying Superman. He was charming, energetic, and reminded me of a Superman who was not afraid to save an unwitting civilian and flash them a wink afterward. While he may look like a discount Superman compared to the brick shithouse that is Henry Cavill, his attitude and demeanor are infinitely more appealing. I also like the fact that Kara has really began to come into her own as a career driven adult, both as herself and as Supergirl. She has cheesy but earnest conversation with the normally rude and abrasive Kat Grant. It really shows she has grown.
Having said that, I am still not sold on the show. Like at all. Kara is charming as all hell, but the plots and storylines still hold little to no interest to me. The annoying back and forth relationship between her and James I’m-Now-Super-Hot Olson is quite painful and poorly written. I was praying that they would be together just so I would not have to suffer them “finding each other”, but they split up by the end of the episode. I am sure I will enjoy watching their strained relationship. That was sarcasm. I am going to hate it, then hate myself for watching it. I also find the villains of Supergirl just terrible. The bad dude of the week was evil I guess but was terribly bland. I mean, sure by the end of the episode, Cadmus was mentioned and it was made clear that the villain will become Metallo, but promises of familiar characters are not enough. So far, Supergirl lacks compelling stories and tangible stakes. Here’s hoping for things will improve.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one. I find this show’s quality of writing and storylines to bounce back and forth between good and terrible quite often. This season may be interesting though because we have Gabriel Luna (Wicked City, True Detective) playing the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider. The events around him have actually been kind of intriguing. It is also nice to see Marvel embracing the weird magical side of the universe.
At this point, Coulson is not longer the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and his team is essentially split up. Annoying vagabond Daisy Johnson is on the run and they are doing their best to track her down and bring her back into the fold. I will admit, I am not super invested in this show, but out of some weird need to know everything about the MCU, I keep watching it. I feel like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not really worth watching aside from this. While I like many of the characters (Mack, May, and Jemma being a few standouts), the inconsistency of the storytelling has always been a troublesome issue. Their half-assed references to the Marvel movies are kind of annoying as well. They will often name drop a hero or some sort of event in a hand-wavy attempt to remind us that Iron Man exists in the same world. These references do nothing but make the dialogue feel forced and awkward.
So Many Shows, So Little Time
That is a bit of a run down on the current stat of these shows. Right now, The Flash probably holds the most potential for me while Supergirl is the most likely to get the ax. A new season alway brings new possibilities to the comic book tv show genre. I can’t wait to see what aspects of these comics make their way into television this season!
Nedu has considered rolling around in toxic waste in order to obtain super powers. Until that day comes, he continues to be a content writer for AYBOnline. His views are his own.