Friday, May 20, 2016

So, I guess that was "Legends of Tomorrow"

the thing burning in the back is the show's internal logic

As I kind of suspected, DC's Legends of Tomorrow did start to feel less like a plodding mess in the final 3-4 episodes of the show.  They had their beginning and they had their ending, but they didn't have a middle, and that was no good for anybody.

Really, if we're being honest, the show made no sense.  Time travel is a ridiculously complicated contrivance, and once you start making up arbitrary rules for your time travel story - rules clearly there so that the story can occur and not just end because you got in your time machine and flew back to the past and killed Hitler in his bed - you've kind of already lost the game.  Especially when your time-travel device is also a space-faring vehicle.

Since last I posted on the show, I've really been hate-watching it, because - and I am sorry earnest TV watcher who was truly moved by the unfolding story of Rip Hunter and his gang of renegade time-travelers - it got just hysterically bad at some point.

The past five or six episodes, Jamie and I took to both playing the role of "Vandal Savage explains to the characters how they could end this right now" in terrible Danish accents, but it made the show so, so much more watchable

At some point, a few things became obvious to me:

  • The show-runners probably had a lot of regrets about the show themselves
    • the casting of The Hawks, whom - despite their front-and-center part of the story - were pushed to the back and given fewer and fewer lines once it was clear Hawkgirl was maybe not the strongest actor and Hawkguy was just not pulling any of this off (and looked like an Easter Island statue without the helmet)
    • They couldn't well explain why the heroes didn't just manage their time travel to deal with their mistakes without bullshit reasons about "some things can be changed and some things can't" and the only rule for what can't be changed is "because that would end the show"
    • The casting of the kid who played Jackson, whom, it seems, is British, which helps explain that his idea of an American accent is angrily barking every line (really?  Nobody in the US or Canada could do this better?)
    • The guy they hired as the main villain, Vandal Savage, was hilariously miscast.  yeah, he sorta vaguely looked the part, but every time he opened his mouth to say something menacing, I was giggling like a school girl
  • And, what with a space-faring vehicle, why they didn't just go strand Vandal Savage on the moon or on Jupiter or toss him into the sun or put him in a safe and drop him in the sea was muy mysterioso
  • Forget all the times they had Savage stopped cold and, off-camera, just let him go
  • And, if Vandal Savage was such a big deal, why they could only find him at, like, five points in history, including an arms sale, which you'd think would be clandestine?
  • Vandal Savage, in this case, worked much better as an Austin Powers villain than he did as an eons-spanning menace
  • If you have a time-travelling show about DC Comics, why didn't you jump around and meet characters from various eras other than Jonah Hex?  (still, this was better than the movie of Jonah Hex)
  • The show-runners had no real respect for the audience

Of course, both the "time travel doesn't work that way" and "toss your problem into the sun" were, quite literally, the solution to the big problem of the last few minutes of the finale that attempted to give Rip closure, but felt like low-rent.  Things that the heroes just absolutely refused to consider previously.

The plot gave itself a gigantic and unnecessary hole, with Rip killing Savage in 2021, thus changing future events, saving his own family (unless the Savage of 2021 was really a future Savage, in which case, why not go kill the Savage of 2021 so long as you're there and have had some practice).  Which would mean Rip's family is never killed, and none of this ever happened.

Look, I do not expect my superhero or sci-fi shows to be a lockbox of logic.  That path leads to madness, and often misses the point.  But when a show's central conceit (time-jumping, all-knowing spaceship) is the major problem itself, you're failing.  But, man, DC... whiteboard this shit before you ask people to give up this much time watching a show expecting a bit of payoff.

Of course I took some joy in seeing Firestorm on TV, and The Atom.  And it was nice to see a less cheesy looking Hawkman on TV.  But at some point, the thrill wears off, especially in those lower-budget mid-season episodes.

I also thought this show was a mini-series/ one-shot, and now I realize they're going to keep doing this, which also makes no sense.  If the Time Lords or whatever are living beyond time, it seems like they'd just... fix their issue and it'd never exist.

I don't know.

Basically, I kind of hate time travel stuff, and this is why.  Only Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure ever held sufficient internal logic to pull it off, and maybe Back to the Future 2.


Paul Haine said...

This show felt like they had a load of ideas for a single, two-hour long, made for TV movie guest-starring all the dribs and drabs from Arrow and The Flash, and then just decided to film every idea and turn it into a series. I watched for a while just because I enjoyed Cold and Ray, but drifted off eventually.

The League said...

Probably the best thing I can say about it is that I think it'll get a serious re-jiggering for Season 2, and it's designed for exactly that.

Simon MacDonald said...

Yup, super glad I tapped out on this one. Thanks for the review, now I know I don't need to go catch up on it. Maybe I'll give season 2 a go next year. Sad to see this show continuing but Agent Carter is not.

The League said...

Speaking of Agent Carter - Apparently Haley Atwell has gone on to another ABC show, so they still believe in her as a star, but I'm not sure it's anything I'm interested in. I'll give it a shot, because Atwell, but we'll see what happens.

Frankly, a network "what if Jenna Bush never got her act together?" show with network TV moralizing that'll de-fang the premise within 13 episodes is not what I'd wish for Atwell, but what you gonna do?

Simon MacDonald said...

Yeah, I'll follow Haley Atwell over to her new show but I'm concerned with anything that comes from the producers of Grey's Anatomy.