Legends of Tomorrow! Pilot Review

Yeah I’m delayed on this.

Why?  You know how sometimes you get up on Christmas morning and you almost don’t want to open your presents?  How part of you wants to just leave them there because until you open them, the presents might still be anything you can imagine.  But once you remove the wrapper, then you’ll know for certain whether you got that N64 or a box of socks.  So part of me almost didn’t want to start the show because then it would be officially good or bad.  But eventually I did…

Spoiler Free:

Is the greatest superhero show ever?  No.  Is it the most INSANE?  Damn near (and I only hedge that because we do live in a world with a live action Tick show).

Even more so, it’s just a lot of fun.

There’s not enough episodes to calibrate it’s curve yet but for a grade I’d say… a C+ on the Flash/Arrow scale +/- 2 grades based upon your personal opinion of time travel in stories.

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Spoiler Review:

Watching this show I was just kind of bopping along for the ride (the hawks and vandal both still need more acting practice) kind of “meh” about the whole thing… then the show up and revealed the true reason for the candidates that were selected and then I was hooked.  It uses a similar motif as Geoff Johns’ Booster Gold run and I really enjoyed that (indeed the promise that Booster might show up any day now keeps me hooked).

Things I didn’t like:

  • Rip Hunter’s goal being “personal” instead of something more noble.  I mean “to save his son” is not a bad motivation but… maybe something we haven’t seen in awhile would have been nice (like an inability to stand by and watch Vandal be worse than Hitler).
  • The confirmation that Hawkgirl & Hawkman look EXACTLY like they do now in every incarnation… it’s just too hard to believe that Egyptians 4k years ago looked just like modern day CW-model actors.  Much less ones like that in the 40s.  The dental work alone would have been drastically different.
  • Canary punching guys in the bar that are literally twice her size out of the way with body blows.  Did Arrow confirm that she has super strength now or something?  The physics alone mean the punch would have barely affected a mass of that size (and in the scene it almost becomes obvious that the stunt men are throwing themselves to the floor).  At least in Serenity we saw River use her more powerful legs, aim for heads, and used props around the room.  You want her in a bar brawl that’s fine, but choreograph it so she looks like she’s had training and is striking actual vulnerable points instead of box like she’s in a higher weight class.
  • Brandon Roth… I want to like you man it just… it seems like you can’t emote.  Am I the only one that doesn’t see it?  Or does he just keep getting roles that keep him subdued like that?
  • Not a fan of the “time cements” rule.  As noted below, they invented a rule that works just as well for creating tension and this bit was just not needed.

Things I quite liked:

  • Victor Garber full stop.  He’s not only an IDEAL Martin Stein (seriously, I don’t think I could have picked anyone else better) but he just captivates you while on screen.  I especially liked that he wanted to preserve something as seemingly simple and unimportant (temporal speaking) as his marriage.  His budding chemistry with Jax definitely shows Firestorm at its best.
  • It does seem they are not starting Firestorm out with his full array of powers, which I admit is good as they could risk writing themselves into corners too quickly without having a good handle on the show’s dynamics.  But we did get to see his “explosion absorption” power which is just awesome!
  • I liked that each character got some screentime.  The whole thing came off as very spread out without over-focusing on anyone in particular (yes, even if this meant less screentime for Match-head).
  • The entire ongoing theme of “family” in the episode is always welcome.
  • So Rip Hunter’s story is drawn from a lot of parallels with Dr Who.  Dr Who leading the Justice League tickles my geeky bone.
  • I like the rule “you can’t cross your own time stream” though I wish they would have kept to it a bit more (like maybe Martin can’t come to ’75 because he’s also there).  Still there’s hope they stick faithfully to it in the future as the “counting clock” form tension.  For example, instead of “we have do X soon or else!” more “if we keep screwing this up we’ll run out of chances to fix it!”  It’s a simple enough rule that makes just enough sense for the story to work and for the audience to grasp.  Stick with that, drop the “time cement” thing.
  • The rather realistic character conflict, and that the pilot went both ways, first showing us Rip Hunter messing up, then the team “doing it without him” …and messing up.  It lent to the episode a Firefly-as-performed-by-the-Justice-League-B-team vibe.

So all in all… a fun time and I dare say the closest we’ll probably get to the silver age of comics on screen in a long time.  I’m really looking forward to seeing where they take this.

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