TV Review - Legends of Tomorrow

This series is another DC Comics adaptation, helmed or created by Greg Berlanti and his producing partners. It's a spin-off of Arrow and The Flash. I never got into Arrow because it felt like a poor man's Batman. I liked the balance of triumph and tragedy, as well as the embrace of fun in The Flash, and this series takes more of its queue from The Flash in tone and with all the science-fiction aspects. What really sold The Flash to me though was the relationship between the lead and Jesse L. Martin who played the consummate father-figure. This series doesn't really have a central relationship that works as well. My ultimate problem though with The Flash was the ending to its Season 1, which lost itself in convoluted sci-fi and particularly convoluted time-travel.

Sadly, this series takes that convoluted time-travel and increases it tenfold. The premise is that a time traveler named Rip Hunter, played by Arthur Darvill (Broadchurch and Doctor Who), has a flying time-ship with a supercomputer named Gideon. Rip leaves London of 2166 and goes back in time to stop an immortal criminal called Vandal Savage, played by Danish-actor Casper Crump. Vandal wants to take over or destroy the world, so Rip has to go after him. Rip stops in 2016 to gather a bunch of super-heroes to assist him.

Rip Hunter is the Nick Fury substitute in this CW substitute for The Avengers (2012). In reality, it's a b-version of the Justice League but way more complicated narrative-wise and with worse special-effects. Rip pulls Atom and White Canary, two characters introduced in Arrow. Rip also pulls Firestorm and Hawkgirl, two characters introduced in The Flash. Rip adds to the maelstrom Captain Cold and Heatwave, two characters similarly first seen in The Flash who actually aren't heroes. They were villains now acting as anti-heroes here.

In total, Rip gathers eight characters to help him. First off, it's too many. White Canary seems unnecessary, except the show needs some female energy. Heatwave is totally unneeded too. It's too many to fight a villain who doesn't require all these many heroes. When Rip uses his time-ship called the Wave-rider to go back to 1975, he doesn't make good use of the team. He assigns specific people to do certain tasks and it seems done without any forethought.

Then, when the team confronts Vandal Savage, instead of all of them taking him down, the majority don't do anything. The only weapon Vandal has is a dagger. Firestorm could have burned him or Captain Cold could have frozen him. Instead, both Firestorm and Captain Cold are assigned to fight faceless henchmen. Hawkgirl is forced to fight him alone when she didn't have to do so, and it's no surprise that she loses. Plus, instead of killing Vandal, the Flash could have just imprisoned him and been done with him, so this whole series feels unnecessary.

So far, the performances from Wentworth Miller who plays Captain Cold, Victor Garber who plays Martin Stein and Franz Drameh who plays Firestorm are the only interesting performances. Three out of the eight, main actors being engaging is not a good percentage of what should be interesting on a show juggling this much.

By the fourth episode, the series reminded me of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (1994), the animated series on FOX, which featured the voice of Rita Moreno. That cartoon was a smart adventure that educated viewers on different places and time periods by giving its protagonists the ability to time travel and go to various locations. It wasn't convoluted. It was a bit silly, but it worked so much better than this show. This show can feel like that kind of a romp, but the cartoon had better action scenes and the perils felt more deep. It's sad that a cartoon can feel more serious than this live-action production.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursday at 8PM on CW.


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