The Complete Fourth Season (2018-2019) (Warner Bros.-2019)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
The Complete Fourth Season (2018-2019) (Warner Bros.-2019)
The Greg Berlanti-fronted DC Universe of TV series has been going on for quite a while now as Arrow heads into its eighth and final season. The shows have mostly been relatively popular (based on the curve that many of them have run on the CW, which has low enough ratings in general to give moderate hits a little more slack than bigger networks). Some shows have been pretty big hits (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl). Some have been more cult favorites (Black Lightning, Legends of Tomorrow). And things are continuing, the upcoming Batwoman will undoubtedly make a splash.
The fourth seasons of two of those shows – Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow – have recently been released on Blu-ray. (Both shows have a fifth season coming up.)
Supergirl is the better series, by far. Their fourth season was an interesting balancing act – cartoonish thrills mixed in with some very pointed politically aware observations. The political and social commentary can sometimes get a little heavy-handed. (No real surprise, this is Supergirl, not The West Wing, Veep or Scandal.)
However, it is still a very solid season.
The new season of Supergirl took the whole idea of “illegal aliens” very seriously. In the alternate universe of the show, literal space aliens have been living among the humans – including Supergirl. However, when a mysterious politician spreads hatred and fear, the aliens are blamed for the problems of the world and imprisoned, attacked and oppressed.
Hmmm… why does that sound familiar?
There is a long history of exploring real life social problems in comics (it is also done, to a lesser extent in Legends of Tomorrow), and the new season of Supergirl does a good job of juggling the fantastical and the factual.
It also has one of the better, cooler villains in recent years, one who goes by the awesome super-villain moniker of Manchester Black. (He is the leader of the alien resistance gone rogue, not the alt-right killer politician.)
Add to that the absolutely brilliant casting of Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor, and you have a party.
This is not the best Supergirl season (that would probably still be the first), but the show still can fly.
Legends of Tomorrow has always been the weak link in The CW’s DC TV Universe – although the most recent season of Arrow gave it a run for its money. It’s kind of a shame, because Legends had a lot of potential. It took some interesting supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash, added a few new heroes, gave them a time machine and allowed them to fight evil throughout history.
By season four, most of the characters originally from The Flash have been killed or written off (only Mick Rory, as played by Dominic Purcell, is still around in a major role). A character from an additional Berlanti DC series – Matt Ryan as John Constantine, the lead character of the short-lived series Constantine – has been added to bulk up the cast.
So, it’s an interesting group of characters and a truly fantastic premise. And it’s still being relentlessly squandered.
Take the opening scene of the fourth season premiere episode. It takes place during the British Invasion. It includes cameo appearances by actors playing John, Paul, George, Ringo, and strangely enough, Paul Revere. And nothing is done with them. They don’t really interact with our heroes (well, Paul Revere does, sorta…). They don’t really further the plot. They are there, and then the episode has moved on. What was the point?
Therefore, even when the series occasionally makes clever, subversive choices – like tying Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother to the Salem Witch Trials, for example, or doing a parody of Japanese monster movies of the 1950s – it is done so lightweightly, so cheesily, that it never quite works. You want to be a comedy, fine. If you want to be a serious action adventure, fine. If you want to be a sci-fi show, or a martial arts story, or a magical fantasy, great. Legends of Tomorrow can never seem to decide what it is, and as such it is mostly awkward, or sometimes actively bad, at being all of those things.
Then again, you can tell the level of quality from just taking a look at the pun-tastic titles of the episodes: “Wet Hot American Bummer,” “Tender is the Nate,” “Hell No, Dolly,” “Legends of To-Meow-Meow” (I was looking forward to that one just because I figured there would be cats), “Séance and Sensibility,” “The Eggplant, the Witch & the Wardrobe” and “Egg MacGuffin.” You get the idea.
You would think that just the wide-ranging group of setting opportunities – London during the punk era, Paris in the roaring 20s, the Woodstock Festival, Germany in the lead-up to World War II – would make it tough to not be interesting. However, it is rare that the time periods feel realistic, and even more rare that the storylines fit into their settings comfortably. A killer magic unicorn at Woodstock? A vampiric witch in a Maine summer camp in the 1990s? A shapeshifter in the King’s Road punk underground?
It didn’t feel like Legends of Tomorrow in those places and time. It felt like those places and times in Legends of Tomorrow.
Plus, in the “To-Meow-Meow” episode there was only one cat, and honestly, she didn’t have all that much to do.
You want to like Legends of Tomorrow, because it’s got some good ideas, it’s fast moving, and the characters are mostly fun, if completely unrealistic. But the stories let the characters down pretty much every time.
There are only 16 episodes, so at least it goes down quickly. However, even when Legends of Tomorrow does work – and it does sometimes – you can’t help but imagine how much better this show could have been.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 17, 2019.