Welcome to the first ever Superweek at Goldilox and the Three Weres! It's an entire week devoted to superheroes, supervillains, and superpowers.
I've wanted to do some TV reviews for a while now and superhero week seemed like a good place to launch the idea. I decided to write about Legends of Tomorrow because I have thoughts. Lots of thoughts, actually. And because I feel like now, at the halfway point in the season (8 of 16 episodes have aired,) the show might actually be on the right track. Feel free to disagree in the comments.
In case anyone isn't familiar, Legends of Tomorrow is about Rip Hunter, a Time Master from 2166 who collects characters from Arrow and The Flash to travel through time and fight Vandal Savage, an immortal bent on world domination.
I almost stopped watching the show after the first two episodes. I think the only thing that saved it is that I didn't want to watch anything else that was on at the same time. Those early episodes were kind of a mess. They tried to to do too much at once, probably to give each of the nine characters equal screen time, which led to too many story lines in each show.
If only one character had an emotional crisis each episode, it probably would have been fine. And over the course of a few shows, the screen time would balance out. Killing off some of the characters (I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum) has at least cut down on the number of balls in the air, though I think it looks like they realized the cast was too big and had to backtrack. The writers really should have been able to balance the story lines before that.
It also bothers me how much time the show has spent in the 20th century U.S. Why is that the most logical place to find a 4000 year old Egyptian? Even the episodes set in Russia (eps. 4 and 5) had a decidedly American point of view. Everything is focused on the Cold War, without giving us any sense of what it was like to be in Russia in that time. It just feels like lazy script-writing to me. The writers didn't want to do a lot of research so they just wrote about what they knew. But there's so much potential in this premise!
I'm not arguing for overt history lessons in a superhero show, but subtle ones would be nice. The way episode 8 "Night of the Hawk" addresses racism, sexism and anti-LGBT sentiment in the 50's comes close, but it gives the impression that those issues are specific to that time. The characters act like they've never seen anything similar in their 21st century lives. I think that trivializes the issues, equating them to the sets and costumes as just aspects of the 50's. The show missed an opportunity to make a meaningful statement.
So why did I say the show might be on the right track? Mostly because of episode 6 "Star City 2046," which guest starred Stephen Amell as a disillusioned, 60 year old Oliver Queen. That episode is pretty much everything I wanted the show to be from the beginning. It tells a compelling story, debates the implications of changing time, and leaves that time having set history back on track as much as it could.
I'm also hopeful because of episode 7 "Marooned" which features time-traveling pirates and tells Rip Hunter's backstory, and lots of Star Trek jokes. The characters also deal with new emotional issues, rather than rehashing old ones like they did in earlier episodes. The fact that the two best-written episodes take place in the future supports my assertion that no one wants to do historical research. But that episode is the first in which Hunter is at all likable, and it features lots of Snart and Sarah moments, and I love the two of them together.
Those two episodes give me hope that the writers might have worked the kinks out now. One thing the show has had from the beginning are great action scenes, so if it starts to tell better stories, I'll be on board. Time travel just creates so many possibilities! I've also read that the next season might have an entirely new cast, so I'm curious about how many more deaths are in the works in the second half of the season. (If they could just kill off Ray Palmer, I'd be happy with that. Even on Arrow, I couldn't stand what a dork he is!)