First, it’s important to note that I’ve seen none of ‘Arrow’ or ‘Flash’. That’s not because I dislike them or think the CW should stay out of the superhero business after ‘Smallville’ or any number of other Cranky Internet Person reasons; it’s just because there are only so many hours in the day and I’m still eight episodes behind on ‘Agents of SHIELD’ and two episodes behind on ‘Agent Carter’ and a full season each behind on ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ and something like four episodes behind on ‘Doctor Who’ and it is fully possible to think that a series sounds cool these days without having even a chance in Hell at seeing it any time soon. I wouldn’t even have seen this, except my roommate was watching it while I was in the room. So I’m coming in cold at the CWDCU.
(I also haven’t seen ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘The Sopranos’. Just to give you a full idea of how behind I am on shit.)
With that said, the premiere episode does a pretty good job of expositing everything in an entertaining and straightforward way. 150 years from now, Vandal Savage is going to take over the world, the Time LorrrerrrrrMasters don’t want to interfere, and so the DocterrrrrRip Hunter steals a timeship and goes to stop him with the help of a crew of superheroes with easily identifiable character hooks. It’s a decent set up for the series, executed with a nice turn of speed (let’s face it, would any of this have seemed less contrived if they’d spent longer setting it up?) and some good work from Arthur Darvill, who’s saddled with a lot of the load-bearing dialogue.
That said, there are problems here. I’m already not loving Hawkman (yes I know “because fuck Hawkman”, but I actually liked his Silver Age incarnation where he was a happily married space cop who just used medieval weaponry to avoid letting advanced tech fall into the hands of criminals) and his habit of literally convincing Shayera to resolve all their difficulties by letting him beat her up until she stops disagreeing with him. No, seriously. That’s what happened.
Also beyond fucking creepy is Professor Stein’s decision to roofie Jefferson Jackson so that he can take him along on the time journey. It’s creepy primarily because the implications of it are brushed off–Stein denies that he roofied Jackson when called on it (and also where did he get the knockout drugs he put in Jackson’s drink? He certainly seemed to have them close to the liquor cabinet, which ew ew EW!) and his apology later boils down to, “I’m sorry I drugged and kidnapped you, but in my defense, I wanted to do this and you said no.” To which Jackson responds with, “That’s okay, now that I’m trapped on the timeship with a murderous temporal bounty hunter after my head and no less than two hardened criminals and one murderer around, I feel great about this!” It’s highly unconvincing.
That said, Heat Wave and Captain Cold are a lot of fun (although the director seems to be letting Wentworth Miller play his part in a totally different tone than anyone else, which is jarring and sloppy) and White Canary seems to have hidden depths that might get explored later. Not thrilled with Casper Crump as Vandal Savage–that’s a part I feel needs a lot of gravitas, and he seems a little bit weaselly–but I will forgive him everything if there’s a bit later on where you find out he gave JMS the idea for the Shadows in B5. Oh, and Brandon Routh is a total non-entity as the Atom, but I’m not sure how much of that is him and how much of it is just smart screenwriting.
The plot covers a lot of useful ground while still leaving plenty for the full season, and I gotta say, I kind of liked this. I may watch more episodes, assuming I have the time after catching up on ‘Agents of SHIELD’ and ‘Agent Carter’.
…and ‘Daredevil’. And ‘Jessica Jones’. And ‘Arrow’. And ‘Flash’. And ‘Breaking Bad’, and ‘Lost’, and…