I’ll give DC some credit, they know Marvel is owning EVERYONE at films at the moment and while they have their plan to roll out their own stuff in the mean time they are wasting no time in jumping in on the TV gravy train. With rolling out Gotham, Constantine & Flash (tying in with Season 3 of Arrow) in the autumn they pretty much monopolize the market and at the same time take maximum exposure over the course of 6 months that a film would not do. Not only that, if successful then we could be hearing about DC for years to come taking sci-fi/fantasy TV to another level.
Anyway on to the list, in reverse order…
Now just because it is the bottom of the list don’t let it fool you, it’s a good show and is a testament to standard of production that DC is throwing out there. So, the positives. First of all Matt Ryan completely sells himself as Constantine. A Welshman doing a pseudo-scouse accent could be a risk but I’ve got to hand it to him, he does a good job. Now while he plays the smart talking, quick witted but only out for himself well, there is something missing. Over the course of the 8 aired episodes we can very much enjoy watching the character but there is not much to sympathize with, and I think this will be to the shows detriment as if the viewers can’t relate in some way interest will be lost. There are still 5 episodes to go so anything could happen but with a 2nd season in the balance I want to see the shit hit the fan. The supporting cast are good and from what I hear it is faithful to the Hellblazer comics and is littered with Easter eggs, foreshadowing and what not. This is a slow starter, unfortunately after the pilot they decided to recast the female lead which meant a couple of episodes had to be squeezed in explaining her origin. Where as if episode 2 has been what it was meant to be all along (which ended up being episode 6), then I think it would have taken off a lot stronger.
Lets call this what it is, it’s a police procedural drama trading off of Batman’s name. I’m going to start with the negatives on this one. For the most part of the first half of the season there is absolutely no overall direction. There is no point to anything that anyone is doing and the ‘villain of the week’ gets tiresome mainly because they are uninteresting, not very creative and poorly executed. I get there’s a need to establish a multitude of characters but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it interesting while doing it. Jada Pinkett Smith’s gangster ‘Fish Mooney’ is ridiculous. Her accent changes from episode to episode and there is no inkling to how she got to such a powerful position. The sooner she’s killed off the better. The action could also be better, they need to take a leaf out of Arrow’s book on that one, and the presence of young Bruce Wayne is pointless at best. But the thing that irks me the most is the lack of subtlety. A young Selina Kyle? Why, we’ll get her to make everyone call her cat 6 times an episode. A young Ivy Pepper? Let’s make sure we throw plants in your face until you realize she’s going to be Poison Ivy. And lets make E(dward) Nigma force a riddle in every episode while we’re at it. It’s just lazy. Rant over.
BUT, for all its faults it does a good job in turning it around. Robin Lord Taylor’s portrayal of the Penguin is standout, but McKenzie as Gordon = good, Donal Logue as his partner Harvey Bullock = good, other secondary characters do more than a sufficient job (e.g.Edward Nigma, the Internal Affais agents) and this theme continues with the rest of the mob as well once the overall story arc focused on their turf war from episode 5. The episodes up the entertainment, focus in on the characters at hand rather than throw Batman references everywhere and the way the mid-season finale went it is definitely going in an interesting and entertaining direction.
The Flash definitely had a leg up courtesy of Arrow because it handled its origin story but that by no means guarantees success. What Flash does exceptionally is take the blueprint of Arrow and splice the supernatural elements that Arrow otherwise shy’s away from. Another benefit is having a pretty damn good cast considering Grant Gustin (Flash) and Tom Cavanagh (Dr Wells) are the only names I recognized. That’s right JD from Scrubs brother…& ED! For those of you who saw Ed anyway, and if you haven’t you should. I digress, all the acting from regular cast is better than solid and have a great rep-or with each other, they establish the origin story quickly and succinctly but also effortlessly and while having fun/making sure he makes mistakes along the way using his powers too. There aren’t many negatives in all honesty. A Couple of bad guys could be cast better, and there is a villain of the week element to the series but it’s a damn sight more entertaining than Gotham’s as the back stories and overall plot is what is focused on.
Overall it’s fun, quirky, entertaining and has a really solid opening half of a season that I can only see going from strength to strength.
Granted it has the benefit of 2 seasons that have got better and better but Arrow does take it up a notch. It does all the positive things the rest of the shows do in this list but also delves deeper into characters, messes with dynamics, has a ‘good who done it?’ story line and easily the best mid-season finale. In season one, i’m not going to lie it was only the flashbacks to the island that kept me interested until the second half of the season but since then it just goes from strength to strength. The casting of Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer (The Atom) was a stroke of genius and Stephen Amell is starting to show range in way I have not seen in previous seasons. The action is way above any other show out there and bang for your buck has the most interesting back stories and entertainment value out there. My only worry is that in the beginning we had one superhero on a vigilantes path, now things are starting to get a little out of hand and there aren’t enough civilian (for want of a better word) characters to provide moral grounding for the arse kickery that is going on in Starling City.
So there it is, all good shows that deserve a watch. Any thoughts of your own please share.