What We’re Watching

In this week’s super-powered What We’re Watching, Will White gives us a run-down on the goings on in the DC Universe…

ARROW

ARROW

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this roundup with Mr. Queen. The show that breathed life into what fans are affectionately calling the ‘Arrowverse’ is, sadly, my least favourite of the CW/DC’s television universe. But it hasn’t always been. Seasons 1-2 are a spectacular watch. We follow protagonist Oliver Queen as he comes to terms with his new self after spending “five years on a hellish island”, but by the time season 3 rolls around him becoming “someone else…something else” refers to transforming into a sidekick on his own show.

So, Felicity and Friends season 4 puts our apparent new protag Felicity Smoak in almost every scene. She spends the whole of five minutes in a wheelchair until her plot armour saves her from being actually relatable. Later, Felicity manages to kill tens of thousands of people but doesn’t really care(?). I don’t know… I’m a bit exasperated with Arrow. It’s lost its way.

Season 4 carries on from the events of season 3 and opens with Oliver and Felicity living a happy life in suburbia. Until Felicity forces Oliver to return to Star City because she was bored.
Magician and Gunther wannabee Damien Darhk is Star City’s new threat and I guess he’s kinda creepy in that ‘I’m a rich banker’ sort of way. Anyway, Darhk plans to destroy the world because he’s cliché villain number #84. At this point, I’m surprised anyone still lives in Star City, what with the annual May time threat of apocalypse.

Arrow has been renewed for a 5th season, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, it’s capable of so much more which is evident in its first two seasons. On the other hand, I’ve stopped watching better shows for worse reasons. Let’s hope the writers can get their act together and find a way to return to Arrow’s glory days.

FLASH

THE FLASH

This show turned me into a Flash fanboy. There, I’ve said it. I love the Flash, OK? I read the comics now. I have a Flash cap and sometimes…just sometimes…I sleep in a Flash T-shirt. Feels good to admit that, actually.

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen was introduced to us in Season 2 of Arrow and got his own show the following year. Season 1 of The Flash had Barry face off against his arch nemesis, Eobard Thawne AKA the Reverse Flash and comes to its epic conclusion with a giant wormhole appearing above Central City.

Season two finished late in May and really lets loose. Parallel earths, time travel, the Speedforce personified, Time wreaths, Jay Garrick, Wally West, Jesse Quick and Zoom. As scary a villain as RF may be, Zoom shifts things up a gear.

I feel The Flash wins points over Arrow when it comes to the villains because both Zoom and Reverse Flash are invested in the Flash. He’s their entire reason for doing what they do. RF wants to use Barry’s speed to get home (after ruining his life) and Zoom wants to prove he’s the fastest man alive. It makes their motives both personal and more relatable. It’s no coincidence then that Arrow’s best season had a villain who knew Oliver and hated him.

My only gripe with The Flash is its inconsistent treatment of Barry’s powers. The Flash can think ridiculously fast. So fast he can perceive everything that’s happening all around him at once. So it doesn’t make sense for him to get sucker punched by someone without superspeed. In the New 52 Justice League #1 Barry claims he’s never been touched (until Superman swats him away), yet in the show he gets knocked around like a piñata at a baseball game. Fast enough to run through time, but he can’t dodge sound waves. OK then.

Gripe aside, The Flash is probably my favourite show of recent years. It just does Superhero TV right. It’s so much fun, super touching and shot well enough that I’m not noticing any technical issues.
Better still, season 2 ended by setting the stage for one of the most important storylines in DC comic book history: The Flashpoint Paradox. The CW/DC TV universe is about to get wrecked. My hype train is at full speed for season 3.

LEGENDS

LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

Scraping the very bottom of DC’s roster, Time Master Rory Williams…I mean Rip Hunter, must assemble a team of heroes to save all of history from an immortal tyrant named Vandal Savage. He’s Egyptian but he sounds Dutch. Oh well, time travel!

LOT brings together every leftover character from Arrow and The Flash not boring enough to be thrown away but not quite interesting enough to have their own show, and ham-fistedly works them into an ensemble space opera that features cameos from, but not limited to: Bill Gate’s dad, H. G. Well’s mum and Jonah Hex.

This is a show not to be taken too seriously. It strives for emotional connections but resorts to constantly lame (but brilliantly lame) time travel jokes. Under close inspection, the plot can quickly fall apart. The show doesn’t abide by its own rules. The dialogue is oh so cheesy, and that one character can’t shut up about her past life as a lowly barista. But you know what? I bloody love it.

When it’s good, LOT is fantastic, bringing with it the sort of moments that just make you smile. But when it’s bad, it’s awful. It has me torn between shying away from the screen and just straight laughing. But I forgive it because it’s hard to hate and easy to watch. And it gave Arrowverse fans the best Arrow episode this year, what’s not to love?

If you like a good romp to random 20th century decades and a whole boatload of unnecessary brooding, sit down, grab a beer (or a nice fruity Swedish cider in my case) and enjoy some impressive TV CIG whilst thinking about how that guy who plays Ray Palmer was quite a good Superman in that one film.