REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – SEASON 4

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Starring

Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Tala Ashe (American Odyssey)
Jes Macallan (Mistresses)
Courtney Ford (Supernatural)
Amy Louise Pemberton (The Laundromat)
Ramona Young (Santa Clarita Diet)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
Matt Ryan (Layer Cake)

Matt Ryan in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Adam Tsekhman (You’re The Worst)
Thomas F. Wilson (Back To The Future)
Susan Hogan (Warehouse 13)
Jane Carr (31)
Laura Regan (Mad Men)
Jordyn Ashley Olson (The Shack)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
Anjli Mohindra (Wild Bill)
Andrew Lees (Unfriended 2)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Wesley MacInnes (The 100)
Sisa Grey (SMILF)
Sachin Bhatt (Bumblebee)
Jenna Rosenow (Neighbours)
Jason Schombing (Mutant X)
Olivia Swann (Doctors)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
Shayan Sobhian (The Chosen)

Dominic Purcell, Brandon Routh, Matt Ryan, and Caity Lotz in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)If any DC series is deserving of a “most improved” award, it’s most certainly Legends of Tomorrow. Sure, there were some definite highlights to fondly remember from the first two years such as “Star City 2046,” but I often kept watching just for the sake of keeping current on all things Arrowverse. Now, however, I look forward to tuning in on a weekly basis.Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Though it’s hard to credit one person alone for the turnaround because everyone making up the cast and crew deserve a round of applause, I hope that others will agree with me in saying that season 3 was when this show really found its footing. In short, the time traveling adventures were finally enjoyable, and the appropriate injection of comedy was delivered.Brandon Routh, Matt Ryan, Caity Lotz, and Jes Macallan in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Admittedly, I’m one to lean toward the more serious stuff and prefer darker material offered up by the likes of Arrow, Gotham and Black Lightning, but that doesn’t necessarily work for everything. Furthermore, Legends can pull off silliness better than The Flash, a sister series that has shown it can’t tip the scales too far in the direction of either drama or comedy, lest the fanbase express consternation. What I’m getting at is how this landscape created thrives by allowing for each show to establish its own flavor, and although it took this baby a while to get there, it can certainly go places that others can’t – and I’m not just talking about historical periods. I mean, where else could you see a man express his love for a hallucination of his dead pet rat and not be taken out of the story?Matt Ryan in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Speaking of which, the producers allowing for Legends to feel more like its own thing by worrying less about continuity with other Arrowverse shows has also provided a big boost. It’s kind of like how you know Batman and Booster Gold exist within the same comic book universe but they’re best left to their own devices. As for what’s actually going on this season, we pick up with the Waverider crew rounding up the final anachronism, thereby fixing history. Surprisingly, this forces the suits at the Time Bureau to recognize them as heroes – but the celebration is short-lived. You see, what had been previously hinted at during the closing moments of last spring’s finale comes home to roost. To put it simply, the defeat of Mallus has opened the floodgates for numerous other monsters to go hog wild on the timestream. So, naturally, it’s up to the people who created the mess to clean it up.Interestingly enough, the first threat for this season comes in the form of a unicorn, so I implore you not to trust one should you ever encounter their kind in the wild. And as it turns out, this fabled equine is dealing sparkly death at Woodstock (1969, so you don’t have to worry about hearing anything from Limp Bizkit), with the team coming back together from opposite directions. It may otherwise seem like a no-brainer to enlist the help of John Constantine (Matt Ryan) in situations such as these, so I’m glad the character’s once again in play for showrunner Phil Klemmer to utilize. Make no mistake, it’s seemingly going to take Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) some time to convince the demonologist to fully join her cause, but I’m glad nothing’s being rushed in a storytelling sense.Caity Lotz and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)If you were to ask me, this  should serve as a fantastic consolation prize for NBC cancelling Constantine a few years back. t Legends of Tomorrow‘s fourth season has carried over the momentum established by its previous effort. Legends of Tomorrow continues to be a fun addition to the Arrowverse.

REVIEW: ARROWVERSE – CRISIS ON EARTH-X

 

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Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries)
David Harewood (Homeland)
Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Victor Garber (Alias)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Franz Drameh (See)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Echo Kellum (Girlfriend’s Day)
Rick Gonzalez (Reaper)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (The Laundromat)
Tala Ashe (American Odyssey)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Love, Simon)

Chyler Leigh, Wentworth Miller, Stephen Amell, and Caity Lotz in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque)
Wentworth Miller (underworld)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
William Katt (Carrie)
Colin Donnell Chicago Med)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)

Melissa Benoist in The Flash (2014)A Nazi regime rules the parallel world of Earth-X, where an archer known as Dark Arrow is the Führer. He seizes a temporal gateway from the Freedom Fighters, which enables travelling to other universes. On Earth-1, Barry Allen and Iris West’s friends, including Kara Danvers and Alex Danvers from Earth-38, come to Central City for Barry and Iris’s wedding. Harry Wells, Cisco Ramon, and Caitlin Snow develop a serum to separate the Firestorm matrix from Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson. However, Jefferson is reluctant to give up being Firestorm. Oliver Queen re-proposes to Felicity Smoak, but she is hesitant about marrying him. The wedding ceremony is interrupted by invaders from Earth-X led by Dark Arrow, his Kryptonian wife Overgirl, and Prometheus. After Kara injures Overgirl, and Alex and Sara Lance capture Prometheus, the Nazis retreat. Dark Arrow and Overgirl, who are Oliver and Kara’s doppelgängers respectively, discuss their next step with Eobard Thawne, Barry’s speedster nemesis who was previously presumed dead.Stephen Amell in The Flash (2014)In S.T.A.R. Labs, Prometheus reveals himself as Tommy Merlyn’s Earth-X doppelgänger, then takes a suicide pill out of loyalty to the Führer after taunting Oliver. Harry reveals that through his exploration of the multiverse, he discovered that Earth-X is a dystopian world where World War II was not won by the Allied Forces. Dark Arrow, Overgirl, and Thawne steal an experimental sub-light generator, the Prism, from a research company. Oliver’s team, along with Harry, Caitlin, Cisco, and Mick Rory, are in captivity at S.T.A.R. Labs after the Nazi forces occupy it. Oliver, Barry, Sara, Martin, Jefferson, and Alex are taken to a concentration camp on Earth-X, while Kara is moved to S.T.A.R. Labs. Overgirl is dying from disproportionate solar irradiance in her heart and Dark Arrow plans to use the Prism, powered by S.T.A.R. Labs’ particle accelerator, to create artificial red sunlight that can weaken both Karas’ invulnerability, allowing Thawne to conduct a heart transplant from Kara to Overgirl.Rick Gonzalez, Chyler Leigh, Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, David Ramsey, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Stephen Amell, Caity Lotz, Grant Gustin, Tala Ashe, Juliana Harkavy, Echo Kellum, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)In the concentration camp, the heroes are rescued from execution at the hands of SS-Sturmbannführer Quentin Lance by Ray Terrill and Leo Snart. Thawne prepares to operate on both Overgirl and Kara, and Iris and Felicity work to rescue their friends at S.T.A.R. Labs. General Winn Schott, the commander of the Freedom Fighters, is determined to strand Dark Arrow and Overgirl on Earth-1 by destroying their temporal gateway. While posing as Dark Arrow, Oliver discovers the Nazis’ doomsday device, a timeship called Wellenreiter, a militarized equivalent of the Legends’ Waverider. Oliver allows the timeship to enter Earth-1 to avoid jeopardizing his cover, but he is ultimately exposed when he refuses to kill Felicity’s Earth-X doppelgänger, a concentration camp prisoner. The heroes struggle against both the Freedom Fighters’ Red Tornado, deployed by Schott as a failsafe, and the Nazi forces, and the gateway is opened at the cost of Martin being mortally wounded.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)The heroes return to Earth-1, and Iris, Felicity, Kara, and the others are rescued by the returned heroes and the Waverider crew. Jefferson is also affected by Martin’s injury, so Martin uses the serum to separate the Firestorm matrix and dies from his wounds. Jefferson tells Martin’s family of his fate; they, along with the Legends and Barry’s team are devastated by Martin’s death. His death spurs the heroes to declare war on Earth-X’s Nazi forces. When the Nazis attack Central City, the heroes counter their assault. Harry, who pilots the Waverider, destroys the Wellenreiter after the heroes disable its shield. Barry spares Thawne, who vows to return. During the fight with Kara, Overgirl’s solar radiation goes nuclear and Kara carries her into space, where Overgirl explodes. Oliver kills Dark Arrow soon after. After Martin’s funeral, Kara and Alex return to Earth-38, Ray returns to Earth-X, and Leo decides to remain with the Legends. John Diggle, an ordained minister, officiates Barry and Oliver’s weddings with Iris and Felicity, respectively.Nick Zano, Stephen Amell, Caity Lotz, and Grant Gustin in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)After Invasion, the arrowverse decided go bigger with the next crossover event this time it is a true four part crossover spanning all the shows. Seeing main stars play evil version of themselves is such a guilty pleasure. This is such an amazing crossover and a must see for all fans of the shows and comic book fans.

REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – SEASON 3

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Starring

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (See)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (The Laundromat)
Tala Ashe (American Odyssey)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Love, Simon)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)

Victor Garber, Dominic Purcell, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Caity Lotz, and Franz Drameh in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Jes Macallan (Mistresses)
Adam Tsekhman (You’re The Worst)
Simon Merrells (Spartacus)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Billy Zane (Titanic)
Johnathon Schaech (8MM 2)
Tracy Ifeachor (Treadstone)
Courtney Ford (Supernatural)
Echo Kellum (Rick and Morty)
Neal McDonough (Van Helsing)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
Evan Jones (Titans)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Rick Gonzalez (Coach Carter)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)
Katia Winter (Sleepy Hollow)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Thor Knai (The Outpost)
Graeme McComb (UnReal)
Matt Ryan (Layer Cake)
Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who)
Jonathan Cake (Chuck)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Eric Breker (Jingle All The Way 2)
Luke Bilyk (Lost Girl)
Violett Beane (God Friended me)
Matthew MacCaull (Tomorrowland)

Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Legends of Tomorrow was the best part of the Arrowverse during its second season, and that didn’t necessarily change in Season 3.  The show continued to deliver its unique blend of zany humor and larger-than-life superhero antics. But the fact that it stayed on top this year also goes to show how troubled the Arrowverse as a whole has been lately. Season 3 had plenty of high points, but it also struggled to build an overarching narrative to rival that of Season 2.

Dominic Purcell in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)It was a season that showed us the best and worst of the series. Historically, Legends has never had the best track record when it comes to crafting villains as dynamic and compelling as its cast of heroes. The whole Vandal Savage/Hawkman/Hawkgirl mythology was the clear weak spot in Season 1. And while the Legion of Doom made for fun villains in Season 2, there the series was really just building on foundations laid by Arrow and The Flash. Season 3 tended to struggle in that department as well. I’ll give the writers credit for creating a wholly original villain in the form of Mallus (voiced by John Noble) rather than adapting a preexisting DC character.Brandon Routh and Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)But that blank slate seemed to work against the character from the start. Mallus remained a vague, shadowy presence for the majority of the season. And when he finally did appear in the flesh late in the game, he came across as little more than a generic CGI demon. Nothing about Mallus’ personality or motivations left much of an impression. Heck, Noble stood out far more during the lone scene in “Guest Starring John Noble” where he played himself than he ever did as Mallus. Nor did the running storyline involving the hunt for the six totems of Zambesi make for the most compelling narrative throughline. The totems came across as simple MacGuffins designed to move the plot along.Neal McDonough, Courtney Ford, and Caity Lotz in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Fortunately, this season did find greater success with its supporting cast of villains. It often felt like the writers weren’t entirely willing to abandon the Legion of Doom premise, with the result being that Mallus assembled his own team of familiar Arrowverse antagonists. Gorilla Grodd was never used to his full potential (understandably, given the heavy special effects cost involved), but the trio of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), his daughter Nora (Courtney Ford) and Kuasa (Tracey Ifeachor) made for a winning team. All three of these characters had extended arcs that focused a great deal on redemption, which helped to prevent this new group from playing like a mere rehash of the Legion. Damien in particular proved his continued worth as an Arrowverse antagonist, with many episodes banking on McDonough’s magnetic performance and the character’s gradual shift from gleeful sadist to desperate father.Rick Gonzalez, Chyler Leigh, Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, David Ramsey, Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Stephen Amell, Caity Lotz, Grant Gustin, Tala Ashe, Juliana Harkavy, Echo Kellum, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)If Season 3 was hit or miss with its villains, it had a much stronger track record with its heroes. The series has really honed that group dynamic by now. And while some characters proved more integral to the series than others this year (Sara’s ongoing struggle with her leadership role, Nate and Amaya’s doomed romance) none of the main characters felt like they were given short shrift in Season 3. For example, while Ray (Brandon Routh) wasn’t generally one of the more critical players this year, he really shone in the delightful E.T.-inspired “Phone Home.” The same goes for Mick (Dominic Purcell), who underwent a subtle yet crucial evolution after being confronted with Earth-X’s Leo Snart (Wentworth Miller).Neal McDonough in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)It was especially nice to see the writers devote so much time to paving the way for Victor Garber’s exit. Professor Stein was given the heroic sendoff he deserved, and one that carried a huge amount of emotional weight. In fact, the midseason finale, which dealt as much with the fallout of Stein’s death as it did a trip back to Viking times, may well be the best episode of Legends to date.Matt Ryan and Caity Lotz in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Thankfully, the series was diligent about adding new faces to the cast to make up for other departures. Keiynan Lonsdale’s Wally West immediately made himself a comfortable home on the series, proving again just how poorly that character had been used on The Flash. Matt Ryan’s John Constantine made for a welcome recurring presence on the show, basically giving viewers a test run before Ryan becomes a series regular in Season 4. The show struggled a bit more when it came to Zari Tomaz (Tala Ashe). Ashe’s relatively low energy performance as the sardonic Zari made it hard for her to blend well with the rest of the cast, and it wasn’t until late in the season that Zari really seemed to find her place.Brandon Routh, Nick Zano, Caity Lotz, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)The most successful new addition, however, proved to be Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan). Initially a stern foil to the Legends, Ava developed new layers over the course of the season and formed an engaging bond with Sara (Caity Lotz). I do wish the writers hadn’t waited so long to introduce Ava’s back-story as an unwitting clone from the future. That whole subplot felt a little tacked on, given how little room there was to actually explore its ramifications, but ideally we’ll be seeing plenty more of Ava in Season 4.Jonathan Cake, Dominic Purcell, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)In general, Season 3 succeeded in spite of its underwhelming main conflict. The strongest episodes – “Phone Home,” “Beebo the God of War, “Return of the Mack,” – were those that either downplayed the Mallus storyline or managed to balance it out with a healthy dose of goofiness. Legends’ sense of humor has always been its greatest asset. That remained very much true in Season 3. The writers frequently pushed the series into some pretty strange and wonderful places this year, but never did the humor and silliness get in the way of the character drama. Legends strikes a balance between light and dark that the rest of the Arrowverse too often struggles to find.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – BEEBO THE GOD OF WAR

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MAIN CAST

Brandon Routh (Chuck)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (Suspence)
Tala Ashe (Odyssey)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (A Fighting Man)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Neal McDonough (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Courtney Ford (Supernatural)
Graeme McComb (UnReal)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Jes Macallan (Mistresses)
Thor Knai (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Katia Winter (Arena)
Emily Tennant (Mr. Young)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores Reborn)
Matt Ryan (Constantine)

I’m sure most of us were expecting a very glum, downbeat midseason finale as the Legends mourned Professor Stein’s passing and struggled to get back into the time travel groove. So it comes as some surprise that this episode wound up being one of the most overtly silly and slapstick in Legends history. And this is the same season where the team reenacted the events of E.T. with a baby Dominator. It’s a real testament to the power of this show, the skill of the writing staff and the chemistry of the cast that such a goofy episode also managed to hit home in such a profound way.Granted, maybe I should have expected a goofy approach to this episode based on the title alone. “Beebo the God of War” certainly didn’t fail to live up to its name. The idea of a group of Vikings worshiping the Arrowverse version of Tickle Me Elmo and rewriting the course of North American history is just bizarre and stupid and wonderful in a way only Legends can really pull off. The Beebo doll and the Viking trappings proved to be an endless source of amusement here, while at the same time serving as a clever way to briefly bring Graeme McComb’s younger Martin Stein back into the picture.There were plenty of great character moments along the way as that conflict grew progressively more chaotic. Naturally, this was a big week for Jax, as he mourns the loss of his partner/father figure and wrestles with his guilt. Ultimately, this felt like a necessary coda to the rest of Season 3’s Stein material. It wrapped up the character’s journey on a happier, more uplifting note. It allowed McComb one last hurrah as a pitch-perfect stand-in for Garber. And it helped Jax move past his guilt and embrace the next phase of his own journey. Seeing Jax bid farewell to his team/family was extremely bittersweet.Above and beyond Jax’s struggles and young Stein’s Back to the Future dilemma, this episode really succeeded in celebrating the team’s status as a dysfunctional but close-knit family. Everyone mourned Stein’s death in their own way, resulting in a steady stream of hilarious and somber moments. Even Agent Sharpe was integrated into the conflict in a fun way. And if it wasn’t obvious that there’s a spark between Sharpe and Sara before, it definitely is now.Wentworth Miller’s return really helped speed things along this week. “Leo” Snart is a real blast – even more entertaining here than he was in “Crisis on Earth-X.” This episode reminded me how much the team dynamic lost when the original Snart was killed off in Season 1. Leo’s antics are a hoot, but the revamped Captain Cold/Heat Wave relationship proved very poignant as well. I’m thrilled that Miller, like Garber, is being given an opportunity to really have fun with his character before saying his final Arrowverse farewell.This episode proved very reminiscent of “Return of the Mack” in how an initially goofy storyline took a dark turn with the appearance of Damien Darhk. The fact that Grainne Godfree was a lead writer on both episodes is probably no coincidence. Fortunately, “Beebo the God of War” avoided falling victim to formula. The appearance of Darhk and his daughter merely served to add stakes to what would otherwise have been a fairly straightforward conflict. And it’s not like Darhk didn’t bring his own brand of hilarity to the table. His tacky Odin costume was simply divine (especially the wig). And you really have to appreciate those little stylistic flourishes, like the final showdown that played out more as a series of Rashomon-style daydreams than a straightforward battle.This episode was a perfect way to cap off 2017 and deliver the final word on Martin Stein.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – PHONE HOME

Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

 

Starring

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Chuck)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (Storage 24)
Tala Ashe (American Odyssey)
Nick Zano (Mom)
Dominic Purcell (Straw Dogs)

Brandon Routh and Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jack Fisher (The Last Ship)
Susie Abromeit (Sex Drive)
Christina Brucato (The Intern)

Tala Ashe and Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Sometimes I wonder if Legends of Tomorrow will ever become too cute and lighthearted for its own good. The trailer for “Phone Home” made it seem as though this episode might go over the top, with its depiction of the team joining forces with young Ray Palmer for a saccharine-sweet spoof of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. But as always, the series manages to temper its goofy, earnest sense of humor with a touch of serious drama and a strong, if very dysfunctional team dynamic. “Phone Home” captures Legends at its most charming and lovable. This episode makes no bones about the fact that it’s lampooning E.T. Sure, there are plenty of other amusing references and callbacks to other films (including a great Aliens reference courtesy of Amaya), but this isn’t a Stranger Things-style mashup of all things ’80s. That said, the E.T. formula lent itself very well to this episode. The whole point was to explore the root of Ray’s inflappably cheerful and optimistic personality. Who else would befriend a hungry alien he met in a sewer pipe?This isn’t the first time an episode has revolved around the team meeting a younger version of one of their own, but it’s a trope that paid off just as well this week as it did way back in “Pilot Part 2” when Stein met his younger self and set a whole chain of events in motion. This time, it was Ray meeting himself circa 1988 (played by Jack Fisher) and realizing that maybe his childhood wasn’t as wonderful and idyllic as he remembers. That dynamic made for a great examination of the character. It quickly became clear that Ray’s cheerful positivity is less an innate quality than something he honed over years of trying to cope with a world where he never quite fit in. Fisher’s charmingly precocious take on young Ray contrasted nicely with Brandon Routh’s take on the character.Tala Ashe in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)For the most part, this episode did little to tie into the larger conflicts building this season. It did, however, build on the events of last year’s Invasion crossover by framing the conflict around a lost baby Dominator and the search for his “Mom-inator.” It’s fun to see these aliens cast in a different, less villainous light, one that fueled a predictable but charming story about a boy finding a friend at long last and adults learning not to judge others based on appearances. Definitely a low-stakes conflict, but a very entertaining one. And the Back to the Future-style struggle to prevent adult Ray from being erased from the timeline did add at least some tension to the mix.Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Mostly, though, this episode was about capturing that Spielberg-ian adventure quality and celebrating the power of movies in general. I found myself openly grinning at multiple points watching this episode. How can you not be won over by the shot of a baby Dominator nodding along to Singin’ in the Rain and kicking its feet, or Mick admitting he’s a big fan of Fiddler on the Roof or Zari using her powers to recreate the iconic climax of E.T.? But even those moments paled to the scene where the Dominator defeated the evil government stooges by forcing them to break out into song and dance. I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that two of the greatest, most spontaneous moments of brilliance on this show involve characters unexpectedly launching into song. I’m still holding out hope for a dedicated musical episode at some point.Zari’s arc is the only piece of the puzzle that left me feeling a bit underwhelmed this week. Other than exploring Ray’s background, the main goal with this episode seemed to be to strengthening the new team dynamic and making Zari feel more like a legitimate member of the group. It’s a nice sentiment, especially with Zari’s talk about people eventually finding their families, but it didn’t quite feel earned. It doesn’t seem like we know Zari well enough for her to be making that leap yet. Nor doe sit feel like the writers have quite figured out what role they want her to fill. Sometimes she’s played as the team’s wide-eyed newbie, and others more like the jaded, futuristic cynic. Either way, Tala Ashe doesn’t quite have the energy level necessary to stand alongside her co-stars Did it strike anyone else as a little weird that Zari has never heard of the Dominators before? Doing the math, the events of “Invasion!” happened 24 years before she was plucked from the future. Even if you assume that the authoritarian government in her time suppresses most media, you’d think humanity would remember its first alien invasion. Heck, it’s very possible Zari herself was alive when the invasion happened. On a sadder note, this episode began the process of writing Professor Stein out of the picture as Victor Garber gears up for a new Broadway role. It’ll be a shame to see him go, but if it has to be done, at least his exit is being handled gracefully. You can’t really fault Stein for wanting to be there for young Ronnie (a welcome nod to the late Ronnie Raymond) when he completely missed Lily’s entire childhood. And it gave us a wonderful little moment involving Stein, Jax and Mick at the hospital.Zari,_young_Ray,_and_Atom_fly_away (1)Phone Home captures so much of what makes Legends of Tomorrow the most entertaining branch of the Arrowverse. This episode delivers a lighthearted, entertaining and sweetly innocent look at a young Ray Palmer and his bond with a most unlikely new friend. The show really wears its influences on its sleeve here, but in a way that pays loving tribute to some truly classic films. With a few more episodes like this, Season 3 may soon come to rival Season 2 in overall quality.

 

REVIEW: HERO HIGH

CAST (VOICES)

John Berwick (Goliath Awaits)
Jere Fields (Aesop’s Fables)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Erika Scheimer (She-Ra)

ds9-cast-1200x786I remember very little about Hero High when it ran on broadcast television on Saturday mornings back in 1981. Presumably my attention was simply devoted to a rival network. However, my love for both Filmation and anything BCI/ Ink & Paint puts out led me to ordering the Hero High box set and I’m quite glad that I did. For starters the set includes all 26 animated episodes of the series (each episode runs about 8 minutes long) with writer commentary on a couple of them. Disc 1 contains the first 14 while disc 2 contains the remaining 12 and a host of interesting special features including interviews with many of the show’s actors and producers. We even hear from producer Lou Scheimer in several of the interviews.MV5BMDcyMGE5NGEtOTMyNC00NDJmLTllY2UtZjUzMWIxMTY3MmI2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTEwODg2MDY@._V1_The show (for those who have not yet had a chance to enjoy it) is surprisingly well done and clearly provided the source material for more recent super hero spoofs such as Sky High and The Incredibles. Rather than compete directly with the campy superhero animation out at the time (Hanna Barbara’s Superfriends for example), Hero High knew not to take itself too seriously instead choosing to poke fun at both itself and comic action in general.cvbcbThe episodes are fairly short romps in a tradition of good clean fun rather than epic good versus evil and to be completely honest, some of the humor contained within is on par with the type of material one would expect in sitcoms from the era. Additionally the second disc contains an episode of the live action skit that came packaged in the Kid Super Power Hour at the time. This, too, can be viewed with writer and actor commentary, which really adds to the value of reliving the experience. The package itself is in a league of its own (as all BCI/ Ink & Paint sets tend to be) with colorful sleeve art and a book that not only lists all of the episodes but also provides color photographs, a synopsis of each one and a trivia pertaining to the episode! Talk about going above and beyond to deliver quality. The picture quality is quite crisp and clean (showing no indication of the era) as are the audio tracks. Once again Ink & Paint have provided a masterpiece compilation worthy of shelf space on any collector’s entertainment center.

REVIEW: THE SECRETS OF ISIS

 MAIN CAST

Joanna Cameron (B.S. I Love You)
Brian Cutler (The Incredible Hulk 70s)
Joanna Pang (The Patchwork Family)
Ronaldo Douglas (The New Odd Couple)
Albert Reed (Good Times)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Laurette Spang (Battlestar Galactica)
John Davey (Shazam)

MV5BY2U0ZTAwZDYtNjZjNC00YzVhLWJjMGItZDg5MTMzYTM1MjhjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1334,1000_AL_

Oh my Queen!” said the royal sorcerer to Hatshepsup, “With this amulet, you and your decedents are endowed by the goddess Isis with the powers of the animals and the elements. You will soar as the falcon soars. Run with the speed of gazelles. And command the elements of sky and earth!”. 3,000 years later, a young science teacher dug up this lost treasure and found she was heir to: The Secrets of Isis. And so, unknown to even her closest friends Rick Mason and Cindy Lee, she became a dual person: Andrea Thomas, teacher, and Isis, dedicated foe of evil, defender of the weak, champion of truth and justice.

Flat-out one of the most beloved Saturday morning TV shows ever produced, no kid who grew up during the mid-seventies/eighties ever forgot Joanna Cameron as the lithe, confident, serene super-heroine Isis. Introduced along with the already popular Shazam! live-action series, Filmation Studios teamed up Captain Marvel with Isis in 1975 for The Shazam!/Isis Hour on CBS, and the ratings went through the roof. Week after week, each episode of Isis opened with the same prologue (that’s the dialogue quoted above), setting the backstory of the series. On an archaeological dig in Egypt, high school science teacher Andrea Thomas unearthed a small box that contained an amulet that when worn, gave her powers delivered by the spirit of the goddess Isis. When her powers were needed, Joanna simply exposed the amulet, put out her arms in supplication (sometime held up, sometimes down) and calmly called, “Oh Mighty Isis!”. Instantly transformed into a cross between Nefertiti and a tennis pro, Joanna became Isis, holder of super powers that enabled her to fly (“Oh zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly!”), perform telekinesis, see into the future, and possess super strength and speed.isis3With these powers, Isis could figuratively crush the world like a tin can, but instead, she chose to help teens (usually students of hers) who got into trouble with the law, see the errors of their ways. Most episodes of Isis found a student reluctantly falling in with mobsters or gangsters or evil businessmen or scientists, aiding their plans to defraud or steal from someone. Just prior to Isis’ arrival, the young adult would start to have second thoughts about their deeds, and as Isis moved in for the collar, they would start spilling their guts and singing like canaries, gently guided by Isis’ requests to look inside themselves, to see if they were acting the way they should act. In keeping with a society that hadn’t yet solidified the “I’m okay, you’re okay” mentality that rewards so-called “honesty” by doling out clemency, the students didn’t get off scott-free here for just owning up to their mistakes – they still expected to be punished, and for the most part, they were punished. But Isis smiled, because she knew that deep down, they had learned a valuable lesson; one they that they wouldn’t likely repeat.

When there were no 24-hour cable networks devoted solely to kids programming. The Big Three’s Saturday morning kids line-up was the only significant block of hours aimed at us. So when a show like The Secrets of Isis  came on the scene, kids took notice. Playing like mini-movies every week, these fantasy-based, limited budget, live-action morality plays really connected with kids.b12d51f1a3503cbbda001463628d1f9b--saturday-morning-wonder-womanAnd while most kids couldn’t have cared less about learning a “lesson” while watching these shows, the deeply moralistic nature of Isis didn’t seem to grate on us – perhaps because they were delivered in a cool, direct manner by the unnaturally gorgeous Joanna Cameron. Within each storyline of the Isis episodes, issues of honesty, integrity and personal responsibility were relentlessly explored, and to further hammer home the point, Cameron, still in her Isis outfit, looked directly into the camera, with that disarming suggestion of a smile at her lips, and restated what we the viewers were supposed to have just learned from the stories (criminally, these famous “morals” were eliminated from the film masters in the 1990s — not a good time for morals, I guess; a few have been gathered together for this DVD).secrets_of_isis_isis2.png

But The Secrets of Isis wasn’t just about lecturing kids; it had plenty of action, albeit rather laid-back, California-styled action, that served the point of the story, and not the other way around. Watching Isis today, it’s easy to laugh at the chintzy blue-screen flying sequences and goof on the dopes who bought this stuff decades ago, but don’t feel too superior; we knew they looked cheap and unconvincing, too. We just didn’t care about that stuff as much as technologically-savvy kids do today. We didn’t care if Isis looked like she was hanging from wires, or that they never showed her except from the waist up when she lifted off to fly. It just wasn’t that important an issue. We knew it was a goof, so we just got on with it and didn’t worry about mattes and blue screens and process shots. Besides, who really was paying attention to all of that when Cameron was either walking around in her polyester-only outfits or her sexy tennis dress tunic?MV5BYzBmZjM1MzItNzU2Ny00MzcxLTg2YWYtZmM1NWQ4NzExMmE0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_It’s amazing to go back and watch these shows and see how relatively calm and sedate they appear. And despite the budget limitations, the series maintained a professional tone due to the solid TV directors who worked on it, including those old pros Hollingsworth Morse, Earl Bellamy, Arnold Laven, and Arthur H. Nadel. Isis also benefits from a well-chosen supporting cast, with Brian Cutler just fine as the second banana to Cameron’s Isis. Joanna Pang, cute and spunky as Cindy Lee, gets the “gee whiz” tone of her character just right; it’s too bad she didn’t come back for the second season (although Ronalda Douglas is good as student Renee Carroll).