November 12, 2014

Social Media | Arrow 3.6 Live-Tweet

Out of the four DC shows I presently cover for Gloryosky, the Berlanti shows are the most frustrating. They tend to swallow a wide chunk of the DC live-action multiverse. Last week, Arrow was about OMAC, and showcased a younger, far less mystical (for now) version of Ted Grant, d/b/a Wildcat. Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim’s strategy for Arrow is to nail down as many costumed vigilantes as they can.

Ted Grant’s not the recipient of a spell gone horribly right, with the “nine lives” stipulation. I’d actually like to see that, yet Arrow is a relatively realistic show with the odd fantastic element, like the Mirakuru drug. At least Wildcat doesn’t have a were-panther for a son…although Arrow name-drops Tom Bronson as a boxer at Ted Grant’s boxing school. The show loves its Easter eggs.

The frustrating part, at least to me, is the relative seriousness of both Arrow and The Flash. Arrow likes to show Sara Lance, arrows in her midsection, plummeting off a building. It drives Roy Harper’s subplot, and dovetails into the drug withdrawal storyline that is part of the foundation for the Arsenal character. It’s the main reason for Laurel Lance training with Ted Grant. The problem is, after Sara Lance’s death is shown a few times, it’s the equivalent of a Batman-related storyline showing a picture of Bruce Wayne’s murdered parents. The scene is overplayed by now. I guess it’s there for narrative convenience, yet this show also laid groundwork for OMAC, and introduced Ra’s al Ghul. Once the Jack Kirby and Dennis O’Neil cards are played, they can’t be ignored for long.

Keep in mind, I don’t hate Arrow. It can be predictable and angsty at times, yet it’s partially the reason DC Entertainment has four shows on prime-time television right now. Is it a show I enjoy? Honestly, I prefer Constantine; that show has more weirdness potential than it presently shows on NBC. Also, I don’t think I’ll ever see the Phantom Stranger on Arrow.


November 11, 2014

Social Media | Blackstone 4.1 Live-Tweet

This is the most obscure show I currently live-tweet for Gloryosky. I don’t mean this in a negative way. I know Blackstone’s on Hulu in the US, and is on occasional American lists of under-the-radar shows. Blackstone has a major Gemini Award winner in Michelle Thrush (Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role, 2011).

At the same time, APTN is a niche television network, meant for a native audience first. The one time Blackstone received a Canadian specialty channel second window in 2010, Showcase stuck it in an 11:00 PM ET/PT Friday timeslot for the first season. The show’s taken the long road to success, especially given its subject matter of corruption within First Nations government. I can’t blame Blackstone’s distributor for accepting Hulu as its American streaming service, and talking with CBC Television. Showcase these days is all about the Hollywood blockbusters and science fiction, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Anyone who follows URBMN/Gloryosky knows I’ve supported Blackstone since its 2009 inclusion in APTN’s Pick a Pilot program. Weirdly enough, I’ve never live-tweeted or reviewed this show. Hell, I have reviews of Wolf Canyon and Health Nutz. My priorities are weird sometimes.


Social Media | The Flash (2014) 1.5 Live-Tweet

Clancy Brown – Lex Luthor, Mr. Krabs, The Kurgan, you know who this man is – debuts as General Wade Eiling. That is all.

Oh, there’s Plastique, another villain ganked from Firestorm. Apparently, she blows shit up, or something. The question is, does she angst in true Greg Berlanti fashion? This is a question for our age.


November 10, 2014

Social Media | Gotham 1.8 Live-Tweet

One of the things I notice with the current DC Entertainment live-action shows is their different approaches to storyline progression. The Flash (2014) and Arrow are flashback-heavy; The Flash (2014) doesn’t rely on backstory as much as Arrow, but Greg Berlanti shows use the flashbacks to cram in as much of the DC universe as they can. Constantine is the most straightforward show so far, sticking to whatever evil John Constantine needs to fight that week, and adapting Hellblazer stories to NBC Standards and Practices’ guidelines. Where else would characters like Dr. Fate and The Spectre logically appear?

Gotham, for its part, loves juggling its many plot threads. The whole point of the show isn’t that Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. This is not fucking Smallville, where everything leads up to Clark Kent becoming Superman; Gotham is about a city with shaky moral grounding. To that end, I wish Gotham would rely on two or three plot threads each week – “The Mask” has Fish Mooney, Oswald Cobblepot, young Bruce Wayne, Barbara Kean, and Edward Nygma’s threads competing against the nominal A plot introducing Black Mask. The loopy Carol Kane cameo has evolved into the loopy Carol Kane recurring character. Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Mooney, in particular, gets a lot of screentime…which has me thinking she dies before Gotham’s first season is over.

Gotham is a consistent performer for Fox. Granted, it’s a Batman-related series; DC relies on the Bat and his associates to spackle its walls and clean its gutters. That typed, I’m amazed how often DC Entertainment goes to the Bat-well and still manages to succeed, in spite of Batman’s current overexposure. This has me worried that Scooby-Doo will get a gritty, hour-long live-action drama in a few years. Fox is threatening something similar with Riverdale, so it’s not that farfetched.


November 8, 2014

Social Media | Constantine 1.3 Live-Tweet

Constantine hit the moron bar last week by having John Constantine say “there’s nothing blacker than gypsy magic”. That’s lamentable, not so much for the Romani slur as for gypsy magic being a writer’s crutch. For instance, a ‘fortune teller’s’ curse is the justification for spinning off Frog Thor into his own character (yes, Marvel; work with me here), as opposed to a temporarily transformed Thunder God. Keep in mind, that’s canon introduced by Walter Simonson in 1986, and expanded on by Chris Eliopoulos in 2009. No one’s retconned the gypsy as being a Norse god in disguise, which is simple enough to do.

My big worry for Constantine is that it has a more fun tone than The Flash (2014) right now. How does that even work? I realize The Flash is in his share of more ‘dramatic’ stories, but when The Flash (2014) is more weighty (and angsty – it’s not a Berlanti series if it lacks suitable soul-scraping) than a television show based on Hellblazer, that’s just odd. It’s like Shazam wanting to grow up as quickly as possible, and Dr. Sivana becoming a muscular gu…wait. DC likes to screw with its properties sometimes.

In my opinion, the current DC live-action television universe has its share of problems. The chief culprit is the shows blending into a well-made, if largely surprise-free, whole. I still prefer this scenario to the early 1990s, when shows based on DC Comics characters went for an episodic low-budget feel (aside from, weirdly enough, the 1990-91 version of The Flash), while the comics ran the gamut from typical 1990s fare to well-written Vertigo series. Right now, Constantine needs to differentiate itself from Supernatural, Grimm and Doctor Who; I’m not sure if it will accomplish that feat right now, given how American network television works. Constantine could be cancelled before it really cooks.


November 5, 2014

Social Media | Arrow 3.5 Live-Tweet

This week’s episode is “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak”. That a superhero show has a long-running character who may be hiding parts of her past is like saying the Golden Age Vigilante dressed up like a cowboy. It’s an implicit tenet of superhero shows, especially vigilante dramas. The trick is to figure out which character adopts which identity. For instance, Laurel Lance doesn’t have to take over as Black Canary, although the direct connection to the Modern Age character’s name is an obvious tip-off.

The more interesting thing to me is this promo, and this Twitter post. At this point, I wonder if Arrow gives Jack Kirby credit for using his ideas, as Arrow’s tie-in comic explicitly mentions Brother Eye, and the show has referenced OMAC in previous episodes. I don’t understand why the supposed “most realistic” DC Entertainment live-action show needs to hint at Captain America of the future. Perhaps only the Arrow writers see The World That’s Coming!

As an aside, pick up Jack Kirby’s OMAC, and/or the Jack Kirby Omnibus featuring Green Arrow. Kirby’s DC work isn’t as well-known as his Marvel work, but then, Marvel just recently admitted how important the man is to its current bottom line. He is Jack “The King” Kirby, after all.


November 4, 2014

Social Media | Strange Empire 1.5 Live-Tweet

Strange Empire, ratings-wise, is a bit of a bust. There’s no way to get around it. Regardless of the quality of the show, the show received 283,000 viewers for its October 20 episode. The show hovers around 250,000 to 300,000 viewers, all told. For all the promotional ballyhoo before the show debuted, a relatively small percentage of Canadians are interested in a period drama based on municipal establishment, and the women who help establish it.

At least Strange Empire does better than City’s Package Deal, which recently moved to Monday nights in an attempt to increase its viewership. I don’t see either show earning another season, yet CBC failing at serious, cable-style drama holds a lot more weight than City failing at a sitcom that looks halfway compatible with 2 Broke Girls.


November 3, 2014

Social Media | Gotham 1.7 Live-Tweet

Last week’s episode of Gotham, “Spirit of the Goat”, is the first episode I feel should define the show. Gotham isn’t strictly Batman Without BatmanArrow was that two years before Gotham, and it’s the show currently using Ra’s al Ghul – but the five episodes previous to “Spirit of the Goat” feel like a show that doesn’t know in which direction to run.

Batman will be rehashed, multiversed and Elseworlded as frequently as Bob Kane taking credit for something he didn’t actually do, but early Gotham has the problem of wasting three-quarters of its running time on mob wars, and how Oswald Cobblepot uses them to further his career. The other quarter is spent on a throwaway villain with a dumb gimmick taken from, I don’t know, Metal Men or whatever title the Gotham writer glances at that week.

“Spirit of the Goat” is more of the same – Ben Edlund taking the piss out of the Bat-mythos, I guess, as Crazy Steves are brainwashed and told to put on a Bat Goat-Cowl. The main differences are Gotham focusing on characters that aren’t Fish Mooney, allowing the villain of the week to be the definite A story, and committing to more mature storytelling. I know Beware the Batman catches shit for not being Batman: The Brave and the Bold, yet Gotham is a prime-time live action series, and it feels more camp and childish than the Batman shows made for children. It’s a weird trend.

This week, Victor Zsasz appears, played by Anthony Carrigan. Carrigan was The Mist in the third episode of The Flash (2014), if you’re keeping score, and I’m sure the hardcore DC followers are. Things you can’t outrun, and all that.

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