TV Shows for Comics Fans: November 2014

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We’re about a quarter of the way through the new network television season and I figure it’s as good a time as any to take stock of the numerous comic-book inspired programs. Here are my thoughts on all of them, in no particular order…

Gotham

Disappointing up to this point. My biggest complaint would be the complete lack of subtlety in the writing. Some examples: Bullock complaining about Nygma’s constant riddling. Cobblepot getting teased about looking like a penguin (despite, y’know, looking all that much like a penguin). It’s a pretty safe bet that the guy telling jokes onstage at the club will turn out to be the Joker.

More recently, the machinations of Cobblepot have grown too ridiculous to bear. The Penguin is a criminal genius, yes, but not a psychic. The idea that he absolutely knew Gordon wouldn’t kill him is an outrageous leap, even for a comic-book show. The scene could’ve worked beautifully too, if only this bit of dialogue had been excised or rewritten.

And in the category of “who knew?”: Apparently Batman is at least 10-15 years younger than all of his supervillain nemeses. No wonder he managed to beat the hell out of them in every fistfight they ever had.

Arrow

I’m worried that this show is getting shanghaied by the Olicity ‘shippers. Up until the final episode of last season, Oliver was in a serious relationship with Sara. In fact he even asked her to move in with him near the very end of the season, iirc. Now I don’t have a problem with pairing off Ollie with Felicity, I’d just like to see them do the proper creative work to get there first. Instead they’re just thrown together early in the opening episode and just as suddenly pushed apart by episode’s end.

Another problem is the flashbacks, which have become a creative crutch. In several episodes their sole purpose appears to be to beat the audience over the head with the theme via ridiculously perfect parallels. The recent episode with Wildcat and his former sidekick mirroring Ollie & Roy would be the worst-case example.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A great improvement from a year ago, though still not perfect. The fact that it looks like they wrapped up the T.A.H.I.T.I. storyline two weeks ago is a very encouraging sign. (Early on I was worried it would become a season-long arc, quite honestly.) There’s also been a lot of movement on Skye’s background—to the point where I think I might have the whole thing scoped out. See the spoiler space below if interested in seeing my theories.

Flash

Probably the best comics-related show going right now (though Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been closing the gap in recent weeks). It’s just lighter, with a much more fun vibe than the other shows. Also, it features the only protagonist with an actual super power to put on display, which increases the fun factor. And the mystery surrounding the identity of Dr. Wells is quite compelling. (The mystery of who killed Barry’s mother a bit less so.)

Just a couple problems here, the one biggie being the seeming lack of chemistry with Iris. A lot of people are blaming this on Candice Patton’s lack of acting ability in playing Iris, but I disagree. Not that I think Patton is Meryl Streep or anything, but the lack of chemistry here would seem to have a lot more to do with the way the series is constructed and how individual episodes have been plotted as a result. Specifically, Iris is more plot device than character here. She has to be kept apart from Barry to create the romantic drama that is the CW’s bread and butter (see “Olicity,” above, for reference). While this keeps the soap opera going, it damages the Iris character quite a bit. Maybe they’ll get this remedied by season’s end (fingers crossed).

Back on the Harrison Wells front for a sec: This is total speculation, so I feel no need to spoilerize it. I’ve seen theories that he’s the Reverse Flash, he’s Rip Hunter, he’s Booster Gold… but if he’s any pre-existing character from the comics (which is not a given), my money’s on T.O. Morrow.

Constantine

Not really feeling this one. The main problem, imo, is that there isn’t a whole lot of mystery about this Constantine, and mystique is what made the character compelling when he first appeared in the pages of Swamp Thing in 1985. He was this British guy who just showed up in the bayou and he somehow knew everything about Swamp Thing. In fact he knew more about Swamp Thing than Swampy himself did. He’s also very much (to me, anyway) a product of his era. As this entry from a list on IGN described him:

“Constantine is a byproduct of both the punk rock era and Margaret Thatcher’s England. He isn’t very nice, he drinks and smokes like they’re both going out of style.”

…Seriously, he’s just not Constantine without the chain smoking, folks.

Potential Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spoilers

 

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My first inclination regarding Skye was that she was Mantis, given the Asian background. As more information came out, this possibility felt less likely.

The blue alien later revealed in season one was Kree, as almost all fans agreed (and more recently was officially confirmed). Skye took the transfusion from the alien much better than Coulson did—a fact that was clearly significant. It would seem she was connected to the Kree race, though she is obviously not blue-skinned herself. One possibility began to seem more likely than any other.

The Kree have very close ties to the Inhumans, whose hidden city of Attilan was once situated in the Himalayas (which are in Asia, of course). Might Skye be one of the Inhumans?

The introduction of Kyle MacLachlan as her father certainly put a new spin on things. When it was revealed he was some kind of doctor and a bit on the crazy side, it came into even clearer focus (at least to me): He was Maximus the Mad. Now Maximus didn’t have any kids in the original comics, but the various relationships between the Inhumans in the comics were always a bit convoluted anyway. They were all part of the same “royal family,” but it was never spelled out explicitly, outside of Medusa and Crystal being sisters and Black Bolt and Maximus being brothers. And even these designations might have been more figurative than literal. (This is just based on the original comics of the Silver and Bronze Ages; not sure if later material outlined the family tree more directly.)

The Marvel movie/television universe is clearly not absolutely wed to the original comics, as we know, so it’s certainly possible they might juggle the family line of the Inhumans a bit. Could Skye be Crystal, then? (The only other big-name female character in the Inhumans is Medusa, and she’s a bit too closely tied to the group to be set loose in the outside world like this, imo.) The one alternate possibility I realistically see is that she’s an entirely new, original addition to the Inhumans cast. This might be the best road to take from a creative standpoint, but it would obviously be more dramatic for diehard fans if she turned out to be Crystal, a character that carries a lot of comics history with her.

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