Category Archives: TV Shows

New Comic Book TV Part V: Constantine

Constantine TV Logo

Constantine marks the last of the new Comic Book inspired TV shows to come out this year. You may have noticed I haven’t made a post on The Walking Dead yet. I will, it’s just I’m way behind on the series (currently only half way through season 3) so I’d like to catch up a little more before I write about it. However that reality is looking less and less likely so I’ll probably just go into it not knowing how the last season and half turned out. But we aren’t here to talk Walking Dead, we are here for Constantine.

Most of the new TV season came out during September with Constantine the only straggler premiering in late October. I think this was probably to coincide with the spookiness of Shocktober but also probably to get it a little breathing room from all the other shows coming out this year. Constantine is the only comic book related show on NBC and honestly the way they have premiered it late and have it showing on Friday nights (the night that TV shows go to die) shows the lack of confidence they have in it. I’ll never understand putting all the money and effort to get a show produced and then actively trying to harm it once it’s released but whatever…

Ravenscar Asylum

The show starts off with Constantine in the famous Ravenscar insane asylum. We get the impression that he has committed himself here during the aftermath of something that occurred in Newcastle. While in the asylum he performs an exorcism on demon which gives him a warning and leads him to Liv Aberdine. Liv is the daughter of Constantine’s mentor who is unaware of the entire supernatural world which Constantine introduces her to. They come across the demon Furcifer which after a fairly impressive CGI battle Constantine sends back to hell. Some things are revealed and due to a little intervening by Constantine Liv decides not to get into the exorcism business but leaves John with a map speckled with locations where supernatural events will soon occur.

Hellblazer 11

Overall this was a great first episode. We get an already battle worn John Constantine who we get the impression has been in the exorcism business for a while. We get the impression that the business has taken a toll on him and that mistakes have been made along the way. The early introduction of Newcastle is a nice little easter egg of the Newcastle Incident that appears in Hellblazer Issues 11 and 12. At first it’s mostly smoke and mirrors that something bad happened there but we get a better explanation of what went down during the end of the episode. We also meet Hellblazer regular Chas Chandler who you may remember from the 2005 movie played by Shia LaBeouf pre-I’m-not-famous stage.

Chas Constantine

While it comes together pretty well there has been some weird behind the scenes decisions which effected the episode. The character of Liv was meant to be the co-star of the show and work with Constantine though the series. Something happened behind the scenes and she was written out of the show which makes for her awkward introduction and quick disposal as a character. They do this as organically as possible but its pretty clear they had long term plans for her in the series and last minute decided to ditch her. I don’t know how this will effect things going forward but it seems like a bad choice to make. For a TV show the CGI did look pretty impressive which is good because with all the supernatural elements the series needs bad CGI will slowly make the show grating and hard to watch.

Things I Liked

Constantine Vol 1 Issue 1 Variant

Overall I did like the show. I think they had a good atmosphere and theme and did a good job of capturing the essence of John Constantine. John Constantine isn’t a great guy, he’s selfish and while he’s doing good work he’s generally doing it for selfish reasons. The show did a pretty good job of getting this across. I think it is undercut a bit introducing the Newcastle incident so early in the series. This was a real mess up for John and deeply affects him throughout the entire comic book series. It was good to see this was in the show but it would have been good to have more perspective about it. Constantine does dickish and selfish acts like what he did at Newcastle all the time generally feeling little to no remorse. The way they are portraying him I believe this will come out more as the show progresses and I think the over compassionate side of was just due to them only being able to show so much in a single episode.

Things I Didn’t Like

No Smoking symbol

I know. This has been discussed ad-nasium. From the moment they announced the show the first question was “Will Constantine smoke?” and for some its literally all they seem to care about. It’s a stupid thing to get to hung up on but it really is a big part of who he is. The “Dangerous Habits” arc about John getting lung cancer (which the 2005 movie was loosely based on) is one of, if not the most popular arc in the series. Would Don Draper be as iconic and intimidating if he didn’t smoke? Probably, but smoking is a part of who he is and has effected major story lines in Mad Men. NBC can’t show Constantine actually smoking. I believe their hands are tied in this matter and apparently network TV cannot show people smoking. I think they do a decent compromise with basically showing everything but him actually smoking. They make an obvious effort to show Constantine with his lighter at every possible moment and during the last scene of the show he’s shown putting out a cigarette he was clearly just smoking. We are probably just going to get more of this which is fine, it’s just dumb and annoying that NBC’s hands are clearly tied in this matter and these are the hoops they have to jump through.

jerry final thought

Overall I am really looking forward to this show. It looks like it’s going to be like a police procedural with John fighting new and interesting demons each week. Basically we are getting a new version of the X-Files and I am completely on board for that. There is a lot of backlash about how Constantine has been watered down since his reintroduction into the new 52. I really just don’t see this as the case. Is the new 52 version of Constantine different than the Hellblazer version? Sure. But at the heart I think it’s the same character and if there weren’t some changes or growth in the series it’d be stagnate and boring.

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New Comic Book TV Part IV: Arrow

Arrow (TV Series) Logo1

You Have Failed This City

Most of the new comic book related TV that is coming out this year has been from DC comics.  We have The Flash, Gotham, Constantine, and eventually Supergirl.  Each show will be fairly different and have different networks and tones but one thing they all share is that without Arrow they would have never been made.  Arrow was DC Comics first foray into TV in the new modern “Iron Man” age of blockbuster comic book properties.  While there is a explosion of the genre right now it certainly isn’t the first time that DC Comics has made its way into television, hell its not even the first time The CW has entered into comic books.

Batman 66 Logo

While historically it goes all the way back to the live action TV series, The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves in 1952, the most memorable (to me at least), is the 1966 Batman live action television show.  It ran from 1966 to 1968 with a total of 120 episodes and for a long period of time was the definitive take on the character of Batman.  There were a couple more shows such as The Secrets of Isis and Shazam! in the 70’s before the next breakout hit of Wonder Woman in 1975.

Lynda Carter Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman ran for 3 seasons from 1975 to 1979 and a total of 59 episodes.  Besides Batman, Wonder Woman, and the live action Hulk series most of the comic book television since then has been largely forgettable.  There have been some standout successes like the 1993’s Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and 2001’s very successful Smallville.  But looking at a list of shows that were made it largely consists of shows I had no idea existed.  There was Superboy, Swamp Thing, Birds of Prey, and even a 90’s Flash.  Overall there have been 14 shows that have come and gone with maybe three being real successes.  The point of all this is that even though a lot of these are properties we all know very well, its still hard to break out and for a TV show to become a real success.  Arrow, now starting its third season, can not safely add it self to that list of successes.  It is also safe to say had Arrow not been a success there would be no Gotham, Flash, Constantine, or Supergirl.

Arrow Cast

The Calm

The season three premiere brings us back into what is the new status quo for Starling City.  Recouping from the aftermath of the mirakuru Deathstroke army, things appear to have calmed down.  Oliver and and the team back to taking down criminals one by one and are slowly cleaning up the city of organized crime entirely.  The police no longer see the Arrow as a threat and even announce that they will no longer be perusing him for criminal charges.  There are some seeds of deeper plot points to come but it really culminates in a cliff hanger at the end of the episode.

What I Liked

Arrow has really found its groove.  The beginning of the episode they take down some unnamed criminal and you see every one working together as a well oiled machine.  Sure Thea is somewhere unknown and Black Canary isn’t really a part of the core team now but you don’t have the bickering and second guessing as you used to.  Whatever hangups every one seemed to have before are now gone and you get the feeling they are finally really working together as a team.  This of course doesn’t last long, which has something to do with that cliffhanger ending but you do get a sense that every one is on the same page now.  I liked this part probably the most, you get the sense that every one has been through some stuff and that they are better as a team because of it.

What I Didn’t Like

City of Heroes

I love Felicity Smoak.  She is one of, if not my favorite character on the show.  It’s kind of well known at this point that she was only suppose to be on the show for one episode but due to the positive reception by fans she came back for a couple more episodes, and then eventually became part of the main cast.  That being said there is a quick and dumb romance subplot between her and Oliver that was really annoying.  It’s not that I don’t want the characters to get together, but they so clearly are not going to end up together they abandon the subplot as quickly as they introduce it.  People generally don’t stay together forever and if they had decided to do this romance plot for a little while and have it not work out I think that would have been fine.  It just felt very contrived and as an excuse to have some shock and awe and shake up the status quo a bit.  They introduced a new character of Ray Palmer (The Atom) and its pretty obvious they are implying that him and Felicity will get together.  Which again is totally ok.  Just don’t set the groundwork for the next relationship while trying to pretend that her and Oliver are going to get together.  It undercuts the impact and makes the whole thing feel exploitative.

jerry final thought

Besides my annoyance at the Felicity / Oliver love subplot it was a really solid episode and I am excited for the things to come.  I didn’t see the first season of Arrow until the second had started but after a binge watch of it I became a big fan and am now hooked.  The cliffhanger at the end was out of no where and as sad as it is I’m looking forward to seeing what that will mean for the future of the show.


New York Comic-Con Powers Trailer

Straight out of New York Comic-Con here is the Trailer for the new show Powers.  It’s going to be released exclusively on the Playstation network which is odd, but it looks pretty good.


New Comic Book TV Part III: The Flash

flash-logo-cw

Spin off City!

After being introduced to Barry Allen in Season 2 of Arrow last year the Flash has spun off it’s to own TV Show.  We have our first shared continuity DC universe! Long live the Arrow-verse!

Flashpoint 1

So before I get into it I have to say that the Flash isn’t a character I’m all that familiar with.  Prior to watching the first episode of the Flash the only Flash comic book I had read was the Flashpoint mini series written by Geoff Johns back in 2011.  I’m a big fan of it, it centers around the Flash but tells an alternative universe story with the entire Justice League.  From it was able to get the quick and dirty version of the Flash’s history, who he is, how he became the Flash, who are some of his major villains and their story.  Again, its a pretty great story, its kinda the reason behind the entire new 52 reboot and if you haven’t read it, you should.

Back to the TV show.  This show definitely knows the mood it is going for and is following suit of its sister show, Arrow.  In fact the Arrow actually shows up half way through the episode.  I don’t want this to sound negative, this is a strong point for the show.  I am a big fan of Arrow and I think of it as the example of how to do comic book television correctly.  It’s dark and edgy, but also funny, and has tons of little DC Easter Eggs and cameos.  Flash follows in Arrow’s lead in the best possible way.  The accident with the Super-Collider that gave Flash his powers has also given powers to dozens of others giving us the real world explanation for all these people with super powers.  Sure it’s a deus ex machina but it feels natural enough and explains not just one person getting powers but all the people to come.  We hear the word “meta-human” for the first time in the Flash and it doesn’t sound near as ridiculous as it did when they introduced it in the 2002 Birds of Prey TV Show.

This was the pilot but it was a pretty strong episode.  They went through his origin story pretty quickly and we go from him discovering his powers to being in the Flash suit by the half way point.  They set up the over all arch of him trying to find how who murdered his mother, while introducing and concluding a mini-arc of him stopping the Weather Wizard, a classic Flash villain.  It was pretty standard origin stuff but moved along quickly and I never felt lost or too overwhelmed with too much information at once.  It probably helped that it is the same style and feel as Arrow so I had an idea what to expect but it was all knew ideas and information so it can’t rely too much on Arrow.

What I Liked

The-Flash-Pilot-Gorilla-Grodd-Easter-Egg

I really liked all the Easter Eggs and cameos.  They were all over the place and even though I felt I caught a lot I didn’t get even half of the list the screenrant.com was able to put together.  It was fun and a nice nod to fans and super fans while never getting to the point where it was muddling the plot for feeling completely shoe horned in.  I like when they do this kind of thing in Arrow and look forward to more in the Flash.  Warner Brothers owns all the rights to DC Comics so there are no characters that are off limits.  The Flash/Arrow-verse has been self contained so far so I suspect that we will not just being seeing the D and E list characters like we do in S.H.I.E.L.D. but suspect we will get some big names in before we know it.

What I Didn’t Like

Flash costume

The costume still looks ridiculous.  I’m sorry but it just does.  I don’t even have a clue of what they could change to make it less so, and honestly I think it looks pretty good.  My first impression was that it looks crazy but it looks the best with what they have to work with, and that’s still how I feel about it.  I think the issue I have is that most costumes look ridiculous in the daytime and the Flash is doing a lot of what he does in the middle of the day.  Maybe more night missions will help?

jerry final thought

My final thought is that its a great show.  My dislikes are nit picky and overall I very much enjoyed the show and look forward for more episodes to come.


New Comic Book TV Part II: Marvel’s Agents S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel agents of shield logo

Don’t Call It a Come Back

The second in our multi-part series on new fall comic book related television brings us the return of Marvel’s Agents S.H.I.E.L.D..  I partially watched the first season but was not really a huge fan.  I think the first season started off weak and aimlessly floundered in the middle but ended strongly with the help of the twist from Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier.  I think what hurt the first season of the show was its inability to figure out what it wanted to be as a show.  To me it felt like it wanted to have its cake and eat it too.  The show at times wanted to be its own separate entity in an over arching Marvel universe but also wanted to incorporate events that occurred in the movies to the show.  When this worked well we got the final episodes of Season 1 where the Hydra infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. continued from the Captain America movie and played out in the TV show.  When it didn’t we got a lot of references to Avengers and what they were up to but never actually seeing them on screen.  I get why Iron Man can’t show up in a network TV show, the money involved to get Robert Downey Jr. plus the CGI is too expensive.  However if you can’t get Iron Man on your show don’t constantly be talking about him and how you work with him.  It just makes it that more obvious the limitations that are inherit in the show.

So if I haven’t spelled it out enough, I wasn’t a huge fan of season 1.  However, I think the show ended strong and I know that my criticism wasn’t alone and that the show is fully aware of the love/hate relationship audiences have had with it.  So I am willing to give it another show and see where season 2 takes us.

Season 2 picks up after some amount of time following the events of Season 1.  Coulson is now the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and they are in the process of picking up the pieces post infiltration by hydra.  S.H.I.E.L.D. does not baby us along.  We hit the ground running and and thrown in cliff hangers here and there of where we left off last season.  We are reminded that something happened to Fitz, that Skye’s father is some big deal, that Grant betrayed us.  All of these happen quickly and given to us in a atmosphere that the team has been dealing with these things for some time now and it is all old news to them.  We slowly get some answers to as the episode progresses but it is annoying that the tone is “I guess we’ll tell you what happened, but its just so yesterday’s news to us at this point we shouldn’t even bother”.  This is annoying.  Most of these things were presented to us in last episode of Season 1 and were pretty big shocking events.  I feel after waiting this long to see how it turns out they should give the revelations they do tell us a little more gravity.

Back to the opening scene for a moment.  Before we even get to all this S.H.I.E.L.D. / Hydra business we start off the episode back in World War II and we get to see non other than Agent Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos!

Peggy Carter

This was a pretty fun/exciting cameo and may be a shameless plug for the Agent Carter spin off show (coming to ABC in January!) but I’ll take it.  All the Howling Commandos were also there and we got a nice little original S.H.I.E.L.D. mission that tied in to the rest of the episode.

Speaking of cameos we also got another big one as a new member of S.H.I.E.L.D…

xena warrior princess

Agent Xena Warrior Princess.  My new favorite agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

We also got introduced to a new villain that is actually a thing from the comic books, the Absorbing Man.

Thor-376

His real name is Carl “Crusher” Creel and in the comic books he is a boxer and criminal who becomes the Absorbing Man after drinking a magic potion from Loki in the Thor comics.  He’s nothing A list but at least its an interesting villain and a stab in the right direction.

The show ends with two big downers.  They are pretty big spoilers so I won’t go into them but if you watched it you’ll know what it was.  Both I was not to pleased with and were pretty big bummers.

What I Liked

I liked the new villains and new agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..  The new plot they are setting up in season 2 is interesting and seems to have been made with the criticism of season 1 in mind.  It seems a lot more focused and the things they dealt with made more sense to me than Skye and all her bullshit that started off the first season.

What I Didn’t Like

We may or may not lose an agent S.H.I.E.L.D. that we may or may not have just added to the cast! In the first episode! Not pleased!

jerry final thought

Overall I think we are headed in a better direction but I just don’t know.  I think the inherit lack of A, B, and even C list characters isn’t something that will ever get solved.  Last year I compared this show a lot with Arrow because I was watching both at the same time.  Both would hint and drop little Easter Eggs of pieces of the DC/Marvel universe throughout the show, but where S.H.I.E.L.D. would only give you innuendos Arrow would often allude to a famous character and then a couple episodes later that character would actually show up.  Arrow being a self contained universe was able to use Batman, Green Arrow, and basically any DC character they wanted regardless of what other movies may be doing with them.  It’s hands were untied and they were able to tell a really good story where as S.H.I.E.L.D. all ways felt like it was playing with a deck missing half its cards.  I still have hope for the show and thought it was a good start but have real concern it can keep up the pace for another 20+ episodes.


New Comic Book TV Part I: Gotham

Gotham Logo Fox

After a long summer drought of good television to watch we have finally reached the fall TV season.  And what is different about this year as opposed to most is the massive amount of comic book properties that will be debuting.  New shows this year include Gotham, Constantine, and The Flash.  Returning with new seasons we have Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Walking Dead, and Arrow.  We also have CBS picking up a Supergirl TV series, Preacher coming to AMC, and a possible Walking Dead spin off show.  Never has there been a greater time to be a nerd.  So as these new shows premiere I will give them a watch and report back to you, the peoples.

Gotham Central 1

First up is Gotham.  Last year shortly after the premier of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fox and Warner Brothers quickly decided to get on the TV bandwagon and where else but Gotham.  During its announcement it was revealed that the premise of the show would center around a young Jim Gordon early in his career in the Gotham Police Department and a very pre-Batman Bruce Wayne.  This concept of a police procedural style drama centered around the Gotham police department, with a lack of Batman is actually not a new concept to the comic book world.  In 2002 a comic book series named “Gotham Central” was released which did just that.  Instead of being a young Jim Gordan it took place with a Batman currently in Gotham but with him rarely making appearances and the book centering around the Gordon and the cops of Gotham.  Batman was treated more like a myth/legend in this book and mostly appears in the shadows and talked about as rumor between the cops.  The series was originally written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka and while it achieved a certain amount of critical success it had a hard time finding an audience.  The book never broke the top 100 comics in sales and after 40 issues was canceled.  While there are a lot of similarities between the book and the new Gotham TV show its been said that the TV show may be in the spirit of the Gotham Central comic book but will likely not follow any plot lines from the book itself.

Gotham – Episode I: Pilot

Gotham Opening Jock

Right before I began watching the show I was talking about what I thought about it and what my hopes would be.  The main thing I hoped for is that they would put off killing the Waynes until a few episodes in and establish them as characters.  This is something that I have never seen in the comics and would be an interesting take to actually see Thomas and Martha Wayne as real people instead of motivation for vengeance.  Cut to the opening scene of the show.  Dark alley, a young Bruce Wayne accompanied by his parents, leaving a theater, mother wearing pearls… We all know exactly what this is leading to.  So they not only kill the Waynes in the first episode, they kill the Waynes in the first SCENE of the first episode! They did a good job with the scene, and for an origin that we all know very well they knew enough to not spend a huge amount of time on it like some series (I’m looking at you Amazing Spider-Man).  I can’t be mad that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted but I was a little surprised they killed them in the opening scene.

Gotham Comic-Con Banner

From there we are introduced to a young Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as they are the first detectives on the scene and assigned to the case.  Promises are made, shenanigans ensue, a suspect is captured and killed, suspicion is raised, and not all is as it appears. We are introduced to a slew of characters and the case of who killed the Waynes has begun.  It is a pretty great first episode.  Jim Gordon is our way into this world and we get a good sense of how corrupt the city of Gotham is in every aspect.  We get to see “business as usual” of crime in the city and we see Jim Gordon’s morality tested several times throughout the episode.

One of the more distracting parts of the episodes is the onslaught of cameos of every one who’s everyone in the Batman universe.  We meet Edward Nygma (The Riddler), Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin), Falcone (The Roman), Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Bruce Wayne (Batman), Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy, and yes I refuse to call her Ivy Pepper…), Alfred Pennyworth along with famous members of the Gotham Police Department Harvey Bullock, James Gordon, and Renee Montoya.  We even get a new character (i think) Fish Mooney played by Jada Pinkett Smith.  I actually really like the avalanche of characters from the DC universe and think it will play to the show’s favor.  I think that the inclusion of such was a big part of what made the show Arrow so enjoyable and hurt Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..  However, having ALL of these characters in the pilot is a little much.  I understand, this is a pilot and is made not for us audience but to sell the show to the network so there needs to be this sense of things to come.  It was just distracting and put things on such serendipitous level that it became ridiculous.

Things I Liked

Alfred Batman Earth One

My favorite part of the entire episode is the portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth as being a badass.

Batman Earth One

This was actually done recently in the comic books in a book non-canon book called Batman: Earth One, in which Alfred is a former member of the Royal Marines and all around badass.  We see this right away as Alfred takes Bruce away from the murder scene of his parents and tells him to keep his head up and look defiantly ahead.  It’s a fresh take on a character we all know very well and it will be interesting to see where they take him going forward.  I also liked the new character of Fish Mooney.  I think Jada Pinkett Smith did a great job and plays a very good ruthless crime lord.  She is cold, calculated, and looking to take out Falcone and take over as the new boss of Gotham.

What I Didn’t Like

Gotham Ivy Pepper

Two words, Ivy Pepper.  It’s a dumb thing to get annoyed over but it also makes no sense why you would change Pamela Isley to Ivy Pepper.  I can only guess that the stretch from Isley to Ivy was just too much for some people… But really my biggest complaint was the constant barrage of cameos from the villains of Gotham.  Again I get why they did it but it just was a little much and made the show feel desperate to show all its tricks at once.  I suspect that going forward they will retain a normal pace of giving us the story of each one of these characters but as for the pilot it was a lot to take in a once.

jerry final thought

Overall I liked the show and am looking forward to seeing more.  I can still see it going either way for me but I think they are heading the right direction.

 

 


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