Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wherein I just gush about "The Flash"

I keep meaning to write a post about Fargo,currently airing on FX.  But, for right now, I just recommend you watch the hell out of that show.  But I suspect writing about Fargo will take a super long time, I'm not going to do that tonight.  And, I'm not going to talk about Supergirl, which was actually not half-bad on Monday.

Instead, because its a Tuesday and its fun as hell to discuss, let's talk about The Flash.

this is not the actual Flash, btw

There are a large number of reasons I tune in every week to see the Scarlet Speedster, and I don't think I talk about it enough, but Grant Gustin is actually really pretty great as Barry Allen.  The guy has taken a character that comic nerds always insisted was "boring" (a diagnosis I never fully understood), and found the kind of guy it would take to be The Flash.  I know, it's crazy to think that a level-headed person with a sense of responsibility would put on tights as readily as the now omni-present anti-hero, but Gustin and a crack writing team have managed to make Barry a buyable, believable character in the middle of a very, very strange world.

And, speaking of strange...

We get another Gorilla Grodd episode!  We've seen King Shark!  We've had multiple universes!  We have Kendra Saunders!

At the end of the day, The Flash is just a fun show to watch.  Yeah, there's melodrama and personal growth and all that.  It's a family drama.  But it's also a family drama with a guy in a red suit who crackles with lightning, runs real fast and fights guys with names like "Weather Wizard".  So, you know, I appreciate the moments of emotion and whatever - that's the glue that keeps the show held together, and performed by a really pretty terrific cast,

Speaking of, the cast is pretty young, overall.  Actor Jesse L. Martin plays Detective Joe West, who raised Barry.  He doesn't always get the best bits to do on the show (and if he's still on by Season 5, I'll be a bit surprised), but he does provide a grounded, sensible presence to the cast and you get the feeling he's helping these younger actors raise their game.  They're all better now than they were when the show started, and it's often in the scenes with Joe that any or all of them have their best bits.

After the multi-year crawl to disappointment that was Smallville, I've certainly enjoyed not just the "and the kitchen sink" approach of the show, but the fact that it all feels like progress.  Things move forward from episode to episode.  The overall arcs of the two seasons don't feel like soapy fake-forward-momentum.  The show-runners are actually trying to tell large, ongoing stories that won't disappoint.  And, given the many sleight-of-hand tricks TV shows have tried the past decade, this viewer appreciates a little planning and plotting.

And now, SPOILERS...

Man, how cool was it to see Gorilla City?  As excited as I was last year when Grodd appeared on the program, and I was deeply pleased when he came back, I was thinking during this week's episode that I was maybe a bit disappointed they couldn't find a way to have a Gorilla City on the show - what with Grodd tied into Flash's dark matter origin.  From small times, I've been a fan of Gorilla City as an idea.  Probably how I jumped on Planet of the Apes as a kid.

I don't remember Gorilla City from the cartoons, but I did have a record where Batman headed to Gorilla City.*  I thought, as a kid, that was just the craziest thing to ever possibly happen to Batman.

So, yeah!  Gorilla City!  On a TV show!  And shown without snark or anyone giggling.


That's been what's been so fun, really, is that they aren't necessarily re-imagining the DCU, just adapting it.  No one stands around in disbelief making fun of the events on screen, it's just happening.  Smallville doomed itself with the "no flights, no tights" ideal after four seasons and the insistence on watering down each and every concept they were handed.  It's something Richard Donner understood when he made Superman: The Movie, but Richard Lester couldn't ever quite accept when he took the helm for Superman II.  It's why Batman has run the range from the serials of the 40's to the Adam West camp of the 60's to The Dark Knight.   You have to believe in the premise and you have to deal with it for what it is, of you're making something mediocre right out of the gate.

We can probably debate whether the super serious tone of the Dark Knight films is maybe pushing the notion a bit too far, to clench the jaw and insist "we are really super serious about this Batman idea", because it was never going to allow for some of Batman's wackier villains.  But, whatever.

Anyway, the show is hitting pretty well.  Yeah, the cast feels a bit too large and Iris hasn't been given a damn thing to do this season, not even an unnecessary storyline, and that needs correcting.  But, in general, the delight with which the creators are taking on the material has me cheering on a routine basis.

*thanks, Mom!


Simon MacDonald said...

Although if Barry's Dad ends up being Zoom i'm going to be ticked off.

The League said...

I hadn't considered that possibility. I don't *think* they'd do that, as it seems tonally dissonant from the rest of the show, but, now the thought makes it seem possible (why Henry Allen would want to kill his own son seems... inconsistent as well, but it IS the sort of melodrama/ soapy malarkey I guess we should be ready for). I'd hoped for them eventually using footage from the CBS show to touch on other Flashes across the multiverse and justify the casting of Amanda Pays as Tina McGee, but we'll see.

Simon MacDonald said...

It seemed weird that Henry left the show is episode one then showed back up last night when Zoom was driven off. Now what is the first thing all of the Earth-2 people do when they get on Earth-1? Go kill their dopplegangers. Could add more melodrama to the show where not only is Barry's Dad dead but he has to fight his Dad's double.

The League said...

True enough. Although, I assumed the reason Henry was written off was both budgetary and because the character's major point in existing was over with, what with Joe's role being the father figure. But, yeah, could be. That would be bonkers.

Simon MacDonald said...

I do love how this show embraces the bonkers though.

The League said...

Really, that's part of what I dig about Silver Age Flash. "Oh, a Gorilla City. Sure! Parallel universes? Coming up!" Meanwhile, Barry is this reasonable guy in the middle of all of it trying to keep his girlfriend from getting mad at him because he's running late all the time.

Kuudere-Kun said...

The Flash is the best Superhero show on TV, but still not as great as Pretty Little Liars. I'm loving season 2.

I disagree about the Lester bashing, I honestly find the theatrical cut of Superman II better. Donnoer's cut is good for the Brando scenes but that's it. Much of it was sequence from the theatrical make made longer with Humor I find more insulting the endearing. And the spinning the world backward worked for batter how it wound up being used in Superman The Movie, doing it just for erasing Lois's memory was absurd.

Smallville was, besides Lana, perfect for the first 3 seasons (If you call Chloe Lana and Kruek's character something else, it is perfect). Season 4 and 5 remained very strong but more flawed. Season 6 and 7 I dislike more looking back then I did at the time. The last 3 seasons has some strong moment but were overall just bad.

The League said...

Well, okay. Let's break down the Lester vs. Donner cut. Donner was pulling together portions of an unfinished film without benefit of reshoots, completed footage, etc... and trying to work from recovered elements and memory of 30 years prior. To see the Donner cut as anything more than an experiment and exercise is a mistake. It's not a real movie, it's a curiosity.

Secondly, we didn't just spin back Lois getting her memory erased, you could read it that we spun back to the beginning of the movie and the Phantom Zone villains were never released at all. Lois and Clark are in the same scene from the beginning of the movie at the end.

Thirdly, it's also not the same as the original script, so, it's practically a third alternate take.

Lester's humor is broad and slapsticky (see his opening to Superman 3 for reference). Something I like in many cases, but I'll take the character driven humor and winky-ness of "Superman: The Movie" any day over "backward roller skating guy" and "lady loses her wig" and "guy who won't get off phone while being wind murdered by Zod". Lester's humor if there to point out how absurd the situation is, to draw attention to the camp of the situation. Short of "Say, Jim! That is a bad outfit!" that greets Superman in the first film, Donner's take included Superman in the joke, didn't make him the butt of it.

Kuudere-Kun said...

The Donner Cut's extended versions of Scenes Donner filmed includes things like, Toilet flushing gag int he fortress of solitude, and a bed wetting joke.

I have no desire to discus Superman III which I didn't even know had the same director.

Superman II's theatrical version, only become popular to dislike once the talk of making a Donner cut became real. The theatrical Superman II is just fine.

However I'm weird since my personal favorite Reeve movie is Superman IV.

The League said...

I have to say, if your high water mark for the Superman franchise was Superman IV, you and I are going to have many, many diverging opinions.

Kuudere-Kun said...

just the Reeve movies. Now We got a modern Superman finally.

The League said...

if you refer to Man of Steel, we are really, really, really going to have differing opinions.

Kuudere-Kun said...


The League said...

that's about the post I was expecting. This may not be the website for you, then.