Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Checking in on DCTV: Supergirl and The Flash

Season 2 of Supergirl moved to The CW network, which was already home to DC's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and iZombie, and the move has been nothing but good for the series, so far as I can tell.  Whatever dictates Season 1 had upon it as a show on a major network, moving to the less-major CW Network has meant the show feels less like it's bucking TV formulas and now it's matching The Flash for melding DC lore with crafting it's own mythology and character arcs.

This season I've enjoyed the shake-up and escape from CatCo, especially if Cat Grant isn't even going to be around and the far more fulfilling role for Win.  And, hey, Kara isn't being defined by which boy she'll pick, which is kind of remarkable on TV.  While Alex's "coming out" storyline felt a bit rushed, crammed in there in-between cyborgs and fiery aliens, alien fight clubs and whatnot, it's interesting to see the show stake it's claim on big-tent "Supergirl is for everyone" and just move forward without turning the show into a melodrama we all have to slog through.

In fact, the CW shows are pretty remarkably good at not doing the things that TV has traditionally done that drove me crazy - namely: have have characters keep secrets from people they otherwise trust when keeping a secret makes literally no sense and drag it out over whole seasons of a show or until they just forget to resolve the storyline.

While I initially cheered for J'onn J'onnz to get his own show, David Harewood adds so much to the show and is pretty much my ideal version of the character whether he's in his DEO civvies or gone full Manhunter on us.  And, with that kind of trust, he's now also playing the Hank Henshaw I thought he'd be when the show kicked off.

In addition, rather than leaving Jimmy Olsen to stand around smiling handsomely at CatCo, it's remarkably in-character for almost any rendition of Jimmy to want to be a superhero.  It's just that in this version, he gets to do it.  Yeah, his armor is sort of a insta-hero trick, and it's weird seeing Jimmy not being the youngest guy in the room, but Mehcad Brooks is doing well making his own version of Jimmy, one who has been around for a while with Superman.

And, speaking of - yes, of COURSE I was excited about seeing Superman.  I wrote that post about it a few weeks back.  And I was just as thrilled to see Lynda Carter appear as the President.

In short, I'm enjoying the show immensely in the same way I read a lot of superhero comics in which I get wrapped up - it's fun stuff, has well defined characters and while I'm not mistaking it for great art, I do appreciate that they are willing to use the show's sci-fi setting to work in some analogies to real-world topics, and are willing to just cover real-world topics when it comes to interpersonal relationships like dealing with a sibling coming out to you - or, really - trusting you as they tell some truth about themselves.  That stuff is hard, and being good to one another is kind of what the folks wearing the "S" on their chest are all about, in big ways and small.

I'm still watching The Flash, and I'm still a fan.  This season is a little shakier than season 2, but it's still much more than I'd ever expected out of the show.  I just don't feel like they're making much progress with their "Flashpoint" storyline, but, hey, hopefully after the mid-season hiatus (and the Fall Finale was pretty solid) they can get it squared away.

But in both shows it feels we've sort of lost the magic of what made the show work by everyone having superpowers and losing the moorings to recognizable reality that gave it some of its heart.

I get it.  More superheroes seems to equal more fun.  But I've seen what that does to the comics, and I do feel it's possible to just turn these shows into a bit of costumed mess (I cannot begin to understand what is going on with Arrow as I tuned in for the 100th episode as part of the Invasion! crossover).

And speaking of that crossover - that was something.  It had all the over-stuffed nonsensical plot of your usual DC crossover.  Just add a thin premise, make it overly complicated with too many writers and characters and then have a relatively large, epic-in-appearance ending, but ask anyone what happened once it's over and you'll get a lot of shrugging.

Anyway, it all feels a bit like keeping up with comics, and that's not a complaint.

Before wrapping it up, I started writing this a while back and it got shelved for various reasons, but in the interim a story popped up in social media (it's in a lot of places right now, but Max posted this story, so here's the link) about how Alex's coming out story first directed a young woman struggling with her sexuality to the comic shop to get some Supergirl comics, and how a queer comic shop manager was able to help her out.

You guys know I tend to swing progressive, so I'm more than pleased to hear Supergirl and her sister (and Maggie Sawyer!) can help someone work out issues in their lives.  And, moreover, that comic shops can be a place where young people can find heroes to help them along their way just as much as I could look to X-Men, Spidey, Superman, Wonder Woman, Mister Miracle, Captain America and so many other superheroes as I've gone along.  If getting these characters off the spinner rack and onto a secondary network can help out more kids... I'm all for it.

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