Cautious Optimism – Quick Thoughts on the Arrow Premiere

Hello Green Arrow – nice to see you.

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That’s my main thought coming out of the Season 5 premiere of Arrow – which is quite appropriately titled “Legacy.”   I can’t say that this episode blew my mind – but it was a solid, standard episode of Arrow which, especially after my irritation with last night’s premiere of The Flash, mostly worked.

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about the fact that the show runners are trying to go back to playing up the strengths that made Arrow work to begin with, and that make it different from its companion shows. That’s on display here, in pretty obvious ways, including a neck-breaking reference to the Pilot.  There’s also a heavy emphasis on great stunt work and fighting non-powered villains.

One of the best results of this – and something I hope they stay with as they add the barrage of new characters is that Oliver Queen was finally back to being the main character of this show.  It’s fine for him to have a team, but it should be his team.

However, for all of the callbacks to Arrow’s past seasons and the gritty urban vibe they tried to cultivate in it’s earlier days – my favorite thing about this episode is that this version of Oliver might, maybe, actually, be starting to remind me of the Green Arrow.

Finally.

Even with all the crap he’s swimming in, this Oliver is finally a little less brooding and he fires not one, but several, ridiculously over-the-top trick arrows.  Parachute arrow? Yes, please.

Not everything was great of course.  I miss John Diggle….I’ll say that again…I MISS John Diggle.  In many ways the relationship with Oliver and Digg is what kept me watching the first half of Season 1.  He needs more screen time – not less.  Also, I figured that Felicity or Oliver was going to have some kind of distraction love interest this season.  It’s the way of episodic television, and Arrow especially can’t seem to write romance without melodrama.  However, randomly dumping said guy into the end of the episode and suggesting that Oliver doesn’t know about him – yeah, not cool.  See my rant from yesterday about being dropped into the middle of a story line.

Here’s hoping however, that these elements are just the lead up to a hard fought reunion of Original Team Arrow – and yeah, Artemis and Mr. Fantastic are welcome to come too – but if I don’t see some Oliver, Digg, Felicity lair banter soon I’m going to call a foul on the whole “let’s play up the best of Arrow” rhetoric – because that dynamic is what really makes this show work.

 

 

The Peril of Season Premieres

The amount of joy I felt today about my superhero TV season starting up again was probably a little extreme.  Summer is great – I love summer, but I also love my nerd TV.

First out of the gate tonight was “Flashpoint” the season premiere of The Flash.  In some ways I loved it – it was great to see Kid Flash and normal optometrist Caitlin, however it also kind of bugged me.

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One of my pet peeves about standard episodic television is how the structure artificially manipulates the story line.  The standard now is that in April or May you needs some sort of epic gamechanging cliffhanger and/or something that wraps up the story line of the show in some way….

….And then you have to come back in October and start the story all over again.  And if you want to keep your show in “real time” you have to explain where those three months went. (I could write a whole separate rant about “real time” – especially with superhero shows which feel like they can mess with the space-time continuum but heaven forbid it should be July in their fantasy world when it’s October in ours.)  Some shows manage to do this gracefully – but honestly it’s a rare phenomenon.

Often the show comes back from those three months and tells, or quickly shows, us what has changed. We, as the audience, are supposed to just take it on faith and try not be irritated that we’ve been left out of a whole chapter of the story.  On Arrow, for those of us who like the Oliver and Felicity relationship, it’s meant that the happiest (and for my money some of the most anticipated) bits of their dynamic have taken place off the screen. Super, super, frustrating. No wonder people write fanfiction.

The other thing that seems to happen is that the finale winds up to that big cliffhanger/game changer and then the season premiere finds some way to write everything back the way it was.  This drives me nuts – it wastes some of the best moments of the story and makes it hard to invest in those big moments.

Unfortunately (spoiler alert) – that’s kind of the route The Flash went. Barry’s decision from last season radically altered the timeline – but we only get one brief shallow glance at that timeline before the show finds a way to put everything back.  Yes, at the tail end of the episode we get a hint that there have been consequences to Barry’s actions, but to me it’s not enough.  To me they’ve shortchanged a multi-episode worthy arc that could have explored, in detail, the power of what we think we want versus what we need.  If Barry’s going to literally ask the bad guy to murder his mother – that moment should be HUGE – and not a 2 second throwaway to quickly get the show back to normal.

Am I still excited that my shows are back? Absolutely!  I just occasionally wish that writers and networks would be as brave and bold as the heroes they’ve written and trust their audiences enough to tell a more complex story.  Really guys, trust me, we can take it.

 

 

 

Retooling: Farewell to Superhero Saturday

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I’ve been thinking about some changes I’d like to make to the blog.  One of those things is Superhero Saturday – I’ve noticed this blog works best when I can respond to things in the moment, and with the TV season ramping up I don’t want to have to wait until Saturday, and limit myself to one post, where superhero TV is concerned.  Conversely, it was sometimes hard this summer to come up with a post specifically geared toward superheroes.

I’m still going to strive to have a longer post about nerd friendly topics every weekend (look for a post about binge watching v. week-to-week viewing tomorrow), and I’m sure some of those will revolve around those folks in masks, capes, and boots – but I’m going to focus on writing about what inspires me in the given moment.

And at the moment, there is one small thing (literally) that made me smile in the world of superheroes this week, courtesy of McDonald’s.  Say hello to my newest version of Oliver Queen –

Hope y’all had a great Saturday!

 

 

 

An Ode to Arrow’s Stuntwork: Superhero Saturday

Tonight my husband and I went to see Jason Bourne – and we sat in the second row – and by the time it was over I was literally motion sick.

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To be fair, I love Bourne Identity. It’s one of the best action movies out there, and I think it changed the landscape of action hero films and even superhero films to some degree.  For example, I think Daniel Craig’s “blunt instrument” Bond is as much a descendant of Jason Bourne as he is of the previous iterations of 007.

But in terms of stunts and action the Bourne film I saw tonight was a shaky cam letdown.  I’ve gotten picky about my stunt sequences in the last few years, and it isn’t because of a movie – it’s because of a TV show.

Arrow has truly fabulous stunts and action sequences, and they’ve kind of spoiled me for anything that’s not done well.

Of course it helps that Arrow has a lead actor willing to do a lot of his own stunts (apparently to the tune of a real life broken nose recently), and is set in a world where fantastical fight sequences are the bread and butter. Not every show can have a crew of arrow and bo staff wielding heroes fighting an army of super soldiers in their season finale.

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That aside though,  every single of episode of Arrow is full of crisp fight sequences in which you get to “see” the punches and kicks being landed.  And they aren’t just well-filmed and choreographed they are inventive – Oliver jumping between floors of a building on the outside of a fire escape, Canary descending into a fight on the industrial version of aerial silks, Thea fighting the bad guy into and back out of a moving elevator – memorable and fun to watch.

So be warned other shows – the bar has been set pretty high by the Green Arrow and friends – and of course, by the crew that makes them look good.

 

DC TV Crossover Wish List: Superhero Saturday

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So the DC TV universe has hinted that the CW shows will probably have some massive crossover event this year.  Here’s my wishlist for that event:

  • For the adventure plot to be character based – and centered around a character or characters we know and love- like Kara, Barry, Oliver, Ray, Cisco, Felicity, or Caitlin etc.  I’d rather not see it used just to further some new character or villain.
  • At least one “Super” in-joke between Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer and the Supergirl gang.
  • That we get to see John Diggle’s reaction to Supergirl – both the flying and the fact that she’s an alien (apparently David Ramsey said he wanted this too so I’m hopeful)
  • Maybe a sort of “nerds united” vibe – with the mega brain trust of Winn, Felicity, Curtis, Cisco, Ray, & Dr. Stein.
  • If someone (or they themselves) could notice that Kara and Felicity have a lot in common that could be fun.  A simple “I love your glasses” would be enough.
  • I’d like to see one of our heroes be really out of their element and have to deal with that – Kara dealing with being in another universe or Oliver having to deal with being  a normal human in the midst of all these powered folks.
  • Honestly, even if this just happens and I get to see Oliver, Barry, and Kara on screen together in some way – I’ll be very happy.

Favorite Heroes in 3 Words: Superhero Saturday

Just a little exercise to see if I could be succinct for once 🙂 This list is based on nothing but my own, “Hey, I think he/she is pretty awesome” criteria.

#10 The Atom/Ray Palmer

Genius, Optimist, Nerd

#9 Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff

Tenacious, Dry-Witted, Assassin

#8 Captain America/Steve Rogers

Patriotic, Loyal, Fossil

#7 Professor X/Charles Xavier

Wise, Telepathic, Wheels

#6 Hawkeye/Clint Barton

Sassy, Everyman, Archer

#5 Supergirl/Kara Zor-El Danvers

Adorkable, Powerful, Committed

#4 Wolverine/Logan

Indestructible Claws Bub

#3 The Flash/Barry Allen

Sincere, Lightning, Geek

#2 Green Arrow/Oliver Queen

 Stubborn, Smart-Aleck, Survivor

#1 Superman/Clark Kent

Original, Incorruptible, Hero

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