Friday, May 20, 2016

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

I mentioned DC's Legends of Tomorrow television series in a post several months ago, as a yet-to-be-released series. The first season is over now, having just wrapped up this week.
The idea behind the show was to pull together a group of characters already seen in Flash and Arrow, and send them on a grand adventure across time and space. The catalyst is Rip Hunter, who is traveling across time to save his family by preventing the rise to power of the villainous Vandal Savage. He gathers up eight superheroes (or villains) to get the job done.

It's always tricky to use time travel as the basis for a storyline, and Legends of Tomorrow is no exception. There's a lot of hand-waving used along the lines of "time wants to happen a certain way" so that the characters can't do obvious things like stop Savage from being born, or correct their own mistakes. Anyone watching a show based on comic-book heroes is going to put up with a lot of flimsy explanations, but these kind of time-bending stories stretch anyone's suspension of disbelief.

Vandal Savage makes a pretty unconvincing villain, in my opinion. He's an immortal, like the character of the same name in the comics, but the TV version is also linked to ancient Egypt and Hawkman/Hawkgirl. Certainly he's smart and ruthless, but the kind of power gathered by the heroic company should have been extreme overkill. Savage ends up a step ahead in episode after episode, of course - wouldn't be much of a series otherwise - but it feels more like the team self-destructs than Savage winning. This issue becomes less pronounced as the plot moves along, which is a good thing, but that doesn't help the early episodes.

The sheer number of characters in the team is a problem, too. Considering how many personalities there are to work through, the writers actually do a fairly good job providing some depth to each one. There's only so much time to deal with the varied interpersonal relationships, though, and having so many means each one feels shorted. A team half the size would have been much more believable and provided more time to expand on each character.

Having said all that, the shortcomings haven't stopped me from watching the show through the entire first season. It's part of the same universe as Flash and Arrow, and it's fun to spot the various ways the shows cross over. I like many of the characters individually, even if the team aspect isn't as well done as I'd like. And there are definitely some fun moments along the way.

The first season of Legends of Tomorrow has been pretty rough, but I'm hoping there's been some lessons learned. A second season is already in the works, and what I saw at the end of this season's finale certainly looks promising. A smaller team with a better villain could make for a solid show.

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