the Flash 1.18 – All Star Team-up

Recap: Cracking under the pressure of the upcoming Avengers 2, Iron Man runs off to the DCTVU.

Muggle Musings: Ok I’ll admit, of all the episodes so far, this is probably the “worst” one (which is saying something that Flash’s worst is still better than a lot of other shows).  My problems boil down to two major points.

1) Does anyone really “like” Brandon Roth as an actor beyond the “OMG, so pretty!” factor?  I don’t know what it is but I’ve just never found him to be that compelling except when playing one of the exs in “Scott Pilgrim” and Clark Kent (as opposed to acting like Christopher Reeves acting like Superman).  I think the guy really needs to go with more villain roles as when he turned bad in Chuck (spoiler warning – as if you need it) he started showing a bit more range whereas every time he’s been a hero the guy is flatter than his abs.  Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see more of him on Arrow when I catch up on season 3 but this episode?  I barely remember him being in it.

2) I wish I was joking above but no, for those who haven’t seen it, the DCTVU (DC Television Universe) has seriously turned Atom (not to be confused with Captain Atom or Atom Smasher) into an Iron Man copycat.

Just… NO!

Let me explain why this is bad without any meta references: there is a rule (I’m sure my econ-professor buddy has the term for it) that it’s best for companies to compete for different shares of a market.  So one company makes chocolate ice cream, another company makes vanilla ice cream.  But say what if one company decides they want some of the other’s customers?  Well the BAD idea is to try and make your product more like the other (like making chocolate taste more like vanilla) because it won’t be as good as the makers who have practiced and refined the production of that product over years so why would anybody who likes that product, try yours?  If you take a casual scan of the comic landscape, you can see a pattern of this emerge between the comics.  Superman and Thor may be similar in a lot of ways, but they’re also very, very distinct.  Batman and Iron Man may have some things in common, but mostly they are different.  The Green Lanterns are very unique to DC and as such remembered far more in wider consciousness than any Marvel echoes of it (save among some hardcore fans).  Likewise Wolverine of Marvel is known by even the most casual comic fans while his DC parody is probably not one you can name off the top of your head.  Meanwhile both sides have a speedster (Flash v Quicksilver) with only academic differences between them.  With both entering media at the same time, it will be interesting to see how well the differences are retained in the wider consciousness or if the two become sort of “blended” in the pop culture mind.

All this is to say that I love the MCU.  Iron Man, Cap America, Avengers, Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil… I love watching them.  I love watching DCTVU ever since I first became hooked onto the Batman: Animated Series way back in the day.  Here’s the thing: I like them both BECAUSE they have different “flavors.”  Unless it’s a crossover special (like the INCREDIBLE JLA/Avengers comic – seriously can we devote the world GDP to putting that up on screen in an 8 hr epic?) when I start a DC show, I want to watch a DC show.  I really don’t care about seeing Marvel suddenly invade it.

Plus Brandon Roth just CANNOT do an Iron Man like Robert Downey Jr can so why they even had him try?

Metahuman Musings: Then ON TOP of everything above?  Ray Palmer is NOTHING like Iron Man!  He’s just a college professor that figured out how to build a belt that can change his size.  Unless there’s a recent iteration in the comics I’m unaware of (and I have stopped keeping track of the Nu52) there’s NOTHING he has in common with Tony Stark except maybe the generic “white guy” thing.  If anyone is close-ish to Iron Man it’s either Blue Beetle 2 (fun-loving rich guy using his money to make advance tech), Blue Beetle 3 (alien device creates for kid super advance suit), or Steele (super-whiz at tech which makes himself a super mechanical suit).

As you may have put together from above, they took what was unique about a character AWAY from Ray Palmer, and turned him into a generic Iron Man knock off.  Which doesn’t work.  Just… yeah I don’t hate this episode (it’s hard to hate vanilla as they say) but it’s incredibly disappointing when this season had built up so much good will.

the Flash 1.17 – Tricksters

Recap: You seen Star Wars?  Yeah it’s pretty much that.

Muggle Musings: Not a lot to say this time as this episode had SO much meta humor and shout outs laced throughout it that it’s hard to talk about anything else.

By far the biggest ordinary reveal is that evil Flash didn’t just pick the name “harrison wells” but stole it and the entire identity from a real person that (it seems) would have been a great guy.  One kind of hopes that if time travel shenanigans change the timeline again (or back to whatever is normal) that maybe we could see the REAL Harrison Wells be a true friend and ally of Barry.

I did think the fight at the start was a little cheesy and the computer graphics for it quite poor.  One wishes they had figured out some way to accomplish it practically so it would hold up better.  I’m also slightly disappointed about the graphic death of real!Wells.  I’ve heard from several other fans that they like to watch this show with their families and graphic, close up sights like that is what tends to get the rugrats crawling into their parents bed at night after a nightmare (leading to less sleep for the parents, the parents getting cranky, etc etc).

Though the timing of Barry revealing himself to Eddie when just the previous episode they had a fight and forgiveness is… disappointing.  I liked that moment at the end of the previous episode where Iris and Eddie “forgave” Barry after the cover story Caitlin told and it seems pointless now that half of it is undone.

Also, I really did laugh at Mark Hamill’s line: “That wasn’t very sanitary.”  Yeah… that always bugged me in these shows.  I mean I know the confines of storytelling and all (proper sterilization can take a bit) but man, sometimes you have to wonder if in these shows STDs aren’t more rampant just because gangrene is killing off people before they manifest.

Metahuman Musings: Wow, what WASN’T a meta moment in this episode??  Mark Hamill who played the Trickster in the 90s Flash show (which I will resume reviewing during the summer hiatus) – in fact they even use a picture from that show in this one.  John Wesley Shipp later dons the very same lab coat he wore all those years ago.  Not to mention that throughout the episode Mark played the role with his Joker voice.  Though I was disappointed with the show turning the Trickster into a knock-off Joker.  I’m sure there’s a comic arc where he is like that but in a lot of the things I’ve seen and read, he always was more of a… silver-age Joker.  One who was unintentionally malicious and violent.  The drive to turn almost any similar villain of a hero into a thinly-veiled Joker tribute is a trend that I grow weary of in comics.

Of course Flash is a legacy hero and in this episode we have legacy villainy passing on from father to son while on a meta perspective the first Barry Allen plays the father of the current Barry Allen and officially passes on the mantle upon seeing the reveal of his “son.”

Time travel continues to make even less sense now as previously when Barry went back in time… “something” happened to his past self, while at the beginning of this episode we see that Barry going back in time did not do anything that instance to his younger past self.  Unless that’s what happens with future!Barry after the opening is that he merges with child!Barry or… something.

All in all a very enjoyable outing on both storylines and well done by all involved with the emotional impact of this episode.  Though you could just tell Mark has had a lifelong dream to tell someone he is their father.

Episode Review – Book of the Damned

Well it was nice to see Castiel fully power up again.  Actually a lot of camera shots and angles were very well done this episode.  But the rest…

No seriously, how did Cas, repowered, NOT catch Metatron who is MORTAL AND SHOT IN THE LEG?  A grandma with a walker could have caught Metty.

I still have no idea how Sam got in touch with Rowena, but am putting an * by that since it might be answered next week.

Charlie (and her meeting Cas) were pretty good, though her talk about her adventures sounded a lot more entertaining than that nun episode 2 back.

So Stein – a german name – helped the Nazis, but weren’t involved at all with the Thule society?  Remember them?  The bros ran into them waaaaay back in… season 8.  I have to admit that when Sam mentioned Jessica this episode, I almost had a heart attack they remembered any canon at all.

Though it’s hard to hate an episode TOO much that introduces the Necromican officially into the SPN universe. (though – again – why hasn’t Lucifer or Crowley or S6 Castiel ever tried going after it?)

Episode Review – Inside Man

Was… was this an arc episode?  Nobody seems to know what’s going on with this season so who knows?

I mean it was good to see Bobby again on a fan level if only because Jim Beaver is such a good actor but on a larger, meta level it would have been better had one of the Winchester’s other allies (and heck, half of Heaven should be occupied by those) showed up to help just to remind us how big the world could be.

Meanwhile Heaven’s politics make NO sense (none).  Seriously WHO is giving orders?  Wasn’t Cas in charge?  If not, who is?  Is there a council or something?  Why in the world did they bother waiting so long to take Metatron’s grace? (and I don’t mean just this season, but just this episode)

Rowena seems to be going the way of Grandpa Campbell from S6 – where the writers just have them do whatever they need to push the plot along and then later “pretend” it was all part of some larger plan.  Then there’s her calls for her son to “nut up” and do something which just gets mind bending when you remember it was last season that the Winchesters staged an “intervention” to get Crowley off human blood.  What kind of show is this when BOTH the protagonists AND one of the antagonists agree that another character should be the king of Hell!  Both sides have been telling this guy to be MORE of a villain.  Just…

The structure and execution of the season are failing when one can’t tell the difference between an arc episode and a MotW one any more.

Episode Review – Paint it Black

Once again the current string of shows leaves me feeling conflicted.  I’ve said before, SPN has been in a bit of rut and they need to branch out.  And they do that this time!  But it’s… not fun or wacky or entertaining in all the other ways SPN pulled off breaking its own mold.

Maybe some other people liked it but man I couldn’t even generate hatred for this episode.  So… the show makers did something different (yay for them!), but screwed it up (boo for them!) – that just means they need to keep trying.

As for the rest… meh.  I keep hearing from Carver & Co that they have a plan and are writing what they want to write and so on and so on.  Do they?  I mean a secret society war is something I’ve been wanting since the secret Nazi society was revealed back in the golem episode.  That witches might go to a secret war against the men of letters is a neat idea!  Awesome!  Let’s do this!  You know… we should have seen some more signs of this back earlier in the season.  The drama of a war approaching that the Winchesters don’t know about (and are about to be dragged into) could be very engaging.

This?  This I can’t even care enough about to give a rating beyond “Great cure for insomnia.”

Episode Review – the Things They Carried

Some days I really start wondering if my blog is read by the show runners.  I mean I’ve talked before (multiple times) about the comparison between hunters and soldiers and… here we have an episode sort of examining that.  Though I wish there had been more.

Sam finally up and remembers he’s a character – too bad he’s been so MiA the previous season and a half.  Had they put a bit more work into his character (or just remembered he existed), a lot of his words and actions in this episode wouldn’t seem to have come out of no where.

Though I still say this episode makes a lot more sense if you flip Sam & Dean’s dialog.  Dean, wanting to fight the MoC’s influence, makes more sense to be the one taking it hard over having to kill someone while Sam could have had hilarious and heartwarming irony in this time being the one to “torture” Cole.  Maybe have them bond a little.

I still think it’s a shame that Cole’s getting the more interesting story and arc when the bloodlines kid could have been just as interesting and filling in this role had they made him a little less generic.  Actually Cole’s role could just have easily gone to Adam as well, and this episode really reminded us how the brothers are really needing some “younger siblings” to remind them of things they seem to have forgotten.  Kids that they can play Bobby to.

So a little like last week, in some spots this episode is really good while in others kind of groaning (like how the boys didn’t think about using alcohol to flush the worms out, or even preparing).  Though the bad wasn’t as bad as last week so this time the struggle between the two extremes winds up at about a 3.5-4 rank.

How will the next episode fare tomorrow?

Episodes Reviewed – Halt & Catch Fire & The Executioner’s Song (or “Why Carver annoys me so much”)

Whoops, I had totally forgotten to do a review of these episodes and then the hellatus ended sooner than I expected on me.

10.13 – Continuing in the grand tradition, this is another season 10 episode that feels a lot like it could be a season 1…

Wait a moment.

*scribbles on napkin*

Well no wonder!  This is a beat-for-beat remake of the episode Bloody Mary!  Ghost with a fixed, but near unlimited travel path?  Trying to isolate the final girl from the ghost’s access.  Heck even at the end the ghost is beaten by a self-reflection conveyed via the very method it had used to torment its victims.

Watch this episode with Bloody Mary back to back for probably the best contrast between Kripke and Carver on how they run a show.

10.14 – Hey Cain is back!

Ok, this is one of those episodes… I call it a “superior style covering inferior substance” writing.  Or as Chuck of SFDebris put it once: “A 7 layer cake made out of shit.  It’s impressive how well its made and all, but it’s still made out of shit!”

The acting in this episode?  Excellent all around.  The scenes and cinematography?  Great!  Etc etc, lots of positive things to say about how the episode is built.  But nonetheless the episode’s core is still… crap.

In fact, this episode provides me with exhibit A for why in the world Carver’s run is so damn frustrating to me.  These are quotes taken directly from the scripts of these episodes as posted on the Supernatural wiki.

In this episode, we have Dean twice say:

When he gave me the Mark, Cain said that this day would come, that after I killed Abaddon, I would have to come and put him down.

and

You told me that this day would come. You told me that I would have to kill you.

NO! WRONG!  This is the EXACT WORDS by Cain from episode 9.11 DURING CARVER’S OWN RUN!

You find the blade, kill Abaddon, but make me a promise first. When I call you — and I will call — you come find me and use the Blade on me.

Yes, under the loosest, most politician-method way of interpreting words, you can make these two lines fit, but in actual CONTEXT, NO!  That is in no way what Cain told you, Dean.  I was pretty mad Carver couldn’t keep Kripke’s & Gamble’s canon straight, but he can’t even keep his own???

And I mean, then there’s the whole bit about Cain killing his bloodline.  Ummm… guys if we’re going by the judeo-christian literal bible interpretation (and with last season and this season, that seems pretty likely), all of Cain’s bloodline would have already been wiped out in the flood of Noah (leaving only Seth’s line to survive).

Then there’s all the little things that just add on to these glaring missteps.  Like having Dean (and apparently Sam) act or imply conflict over killing Crowley.  Crowley.  The King. Of. Hell!  A guy they’ve repeatedly threatened to kill (in fact, promising to do so after Abaddon) and with Cain gone, why are they keeping him around?  Not that I’m saying there’s no reason, but I’d like the characters to give us one, other than the implication being that they’re aware he’s a part of the main cast now.

Or that Sam & Dean have lost their way so badly that the show has to have a kid threatened rather than remember the days when the boys would actually work to save a man that was even a criminal purely because he’s human.

Still it’s nice to see Castiel getting somewhat involved again.  Ironic because in S6&7, you could almost see Sera Gamble’s struggle with trying to keep Cas from breaking the stories and arcs of the season and so kept shuffling him off to do other things.  Meanwhile Carver’s actually set up a REASON for Castiel to be involved in the stories and arcs, even depowered him some (so they don’t break), and he’s STILL shuffled off to do other things.

So I’d give this episode a strict 3.  It’s good parts are excellent, and it’s bad parts are horrid, leaving their struggle balancing out exactly middle of the road.