25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

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MAIN CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate)
Rick Gonzalez (Mr. Robot)
Juliana Harkavy (The Walking Dead)
Paul Blackthorne (A Christmas Carol)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kirk Acevedo (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)
David Nykl (Stargate Atlantis)
Tom Amandes (The Magicians)
Tobias Jelinek (American Woman)
Johann Urb (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Michael Emerson (Lost)

Oliver is his own worst enemy  in the mid-season finale of Arrow. This episode follows an unusual pattern for one containing a wedding – it’s dispensed with early on so that the real business of the episode can get underway, rather than being the moment of celebration and reflection at the end. The wedding is mostly useful for allowing characters to point out how weird it was for Ollie and Felicity to get married in the way. Thea and Felicity’s mother are deservedly upset, which is a reminder of the fact that only.The wedding is also a nice time to check in on what a mess everyone’s personal life is, and how many of them have had pasts with one another. Curtis gets drunk on champagne and memories of his marriage to Paul, Rene talks about his dead wife, they both learn that Dinah has been engaged multiple times, Thea misses Roy and I’m sad he is once again absent during a time that he would obviously be there for her. And of course Felicity’s criminal father is in attendance and flirting with her mother, who briefly reunites with Lance. I’d like to point out that while Oliver seems to have jumped to the conclusion that the witness is a current member of the team other than his best friend or his wife, there are many more contenders. The witness could theoretically be Roy, Ragman, vigilante, the Russians, Quentin, Lyla, or anyone named al-Ghul.   Of course Rene soon fesses up, but not before Oliver reveals that the original 3 have been spying on the new kids. With every new member of the team there has been some sort of transition period, but with this group (as well as the two members they have since lost) that seems to be a rougher and longer transition. Evelyn’s betrayal, mentioned frequently here, certainly contributed to that. But there’s also more distance between the original team and this crop of newbies because Roy, Thea, Sara, and Laurel all came and went. That makes them two generations removed, a gap Oliver has never fully closed, nor does he seem to want to.Oliver’s poor judgment, aided and abetted by Felicity and Diggle respectively, drives Dinah to quit the team and reunite with Vince. Rene is gone, and Curtis’s departure seems to hit hardest. That may be because he’s been with them the longest, but it could also be due to the level-headed way he notifies them. The original team can pretend they’re right with the other two, but there’s no justifying how they drove Curtis away. I can’t help but feel happy for Rene and Curtis, in particular. Curtis clearly needs some time to think over his priorities in life, and spending less time with Felicity might help him gain some perspective and stick up for himself more when she walks all over him. And Rene has a good job and his daughter back, and as we’ve seen with Dig and Ollie, having a kid makes a person question their place in the vigilante business.I doubt this break-up of the team is for long, but it honestly seems like a healthy choice for everyone except Dinah, who is spending time with her murderous ex. Watching Dinah and Oliver go toe to toe is some of the best chemistry this season, since they’re so similar in temperament. But it’s Diggle who usually spends time with her and therefore truly betrayed her, and that relationship won’t be easily repaired. I’m eagerly awaiting Lyla’s reaction when she finds out what her husband did, as well as the continued relationship between Quentin and Black Siren. Her dad was killed by a drunk driver (perhaps that world’s Quentin Lance?) on her 13th birthday, and Quentin forged just enough of a relationship with her to make her defy Cayden James’s orders to kill Lance. Those relationships are complicated, and will only become moreso in the New Year.This episode ends on a tough note. Oliver is without most of his team through his own actions, as Cayden James pointed out. And of course that happens when pretty much every living member of Oliver and the Green Arrow’s rogues gallery assembles to creepily watch Oliver in the lair via a hidden camera. It’s particularly frustrating to see Oliver regress after spending this season so far showing emotional maturity in a way that is really new for the character. He at least acknowledged that he would have (and has in the past) done the same thing as Rene, and I’m hoping he has the good sense to keep following Thea’s advice. If he doesn’t,  Team Arrow is going to have a hard time keeping their enemies in check, never mind taking them down.

REVIEW: CONSTANTINE (2014) THE TV SERIES

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MAIN CAST
Matt Ryan (Layer Cake)
Angelica Celaya (Dallas)
Charles Halford (Agents of SHIELD)
Harold Perrineau (Lost)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lucy Griffiths (Preacher)
Jeremy Davies (Lost)
Leisha Hailey (The L Word)
Joelle Carter (Justified)
Michael James Shaw (Avengers: Endgame)
Sean Whalen (Superstar)
Jonjo O’Neill (Defiance)
Charles Parnell (The Warriors)
Emmett J Scanlan (The Fall)
Chasty Ballesteros (The Internship)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Laura Regan (Minority Report TV)
Amy Parrish (One Tree Hill)
Juliana Harkavy (Arrow)
Megan West (How To Get Away With Murder)
Claire van der Boom (The Square)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)
Amanda Clayton (John Carter)
William Mapother (Lost)
Robert Pralgo (The Vampire Diaries)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Annalise Basso (Ouija 2)
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DC/Vertigo’s John Constantine leapt from the sordid, scary pages of his Hellblazer comics thanks to EPs David Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel) and Daniel Cerone (Dexter, Charmed). Matt Ryan, as the titular hero, was really effective in bringing Constantine to life on screen. Flippant when called for. Vulnerable when need be. All the while – whether casting out a demon from some poor body or battling one within himself – creating a very commanding, likable presence on screen. John Constantine was a the sort of hero you had to get right immediately and Ryan excelled.
John’s back up proved reliable from a charismatic standpoint. Chas and Zed were great characters and as the serious progressed we got to see their back story’s and what made them the way they are.I really liked that Newcastle was used as the show’s jumping off point, and that throughout the season John would have to atone in various ways with scattered members of that ill-fated team, but his own team often suffered. Even though we’re only talking about 13 episodes here, the show still made good use of a seasonal arc format. Even using the “Rising Darkness” to both inform and be the cause of a procedural “case of the week” structure . The “Scry Map” gave John demons and ghosts to chase, all under the umbrella that hell was slowly encroaching upon the world of the living. And while not every “case of the week” landed, a couple of stories ripped from the comics came alive in (remixed) cool ways (“A Feast of Friends,” “The Saint of Last Resorts: Part 1” and “Waiting for the Man”). Along with some DC notables like Felix Faust, Eclipso’s Black Diamond, and Jim Corrigan.I liked that Manny turned out to be the villain right at the end of the finale. Mostly because the “Rising Darkness” needed a face. The Brujeria were mentioned quite a bit, but never shown. Was the twist worth sitting through a handful of episodes where I wondered why Manny was even there at all? Maybe, maybe not. But the show needed a “big bad,” and whether or not Manny turns out to be Satan himself or just an evil angel, he still fits the bill nicely.Constantine had a cool look, an awesome lead, and a confidence that you don’t see in most fledgling series. As the series went on it became an intriguing show with many dimensions that would of been worth exploring in later seasons, this is a show that was cancelled too soon and now with a unresolved cliffhanger we may never know where it will lead. On the plus side  Matt Ryan’s Constantine is coming too Arrow, so we at least get to see him at least one more time.