CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – BEEBO THE GOD OF WAR

DC's_Legends_of_Tomorrow_title_card

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.

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – TURNCOAT

DC's_Legends_of_Tomorrow_title_card

MAIN CAST

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Chuck)
Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)
Dominic Purcell (A Fighting Man)
Amy Louise Pemberton (Suspence)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Randall Batinkoff (As Good As It Gets)

Legends of Tomorrow delivered a Christmas-themed episode in feburary 2017 , making it only about a month-and-a-half late to the party. But when time travel is involved, you can always argue that’s Christmas somewhere (or some-when). “Turncoat” allowed Legends to keep delivering the fun, frantic action it’s been doing so well in season 2, while also going to some pretty dark and dramatic places along the way.Granted, I had my concerns going into this episode. Legends has been particularly strong since returning from its midseason hiatus, and it didn’t seem like reverting to the familiar formula of “The Legends go back in time and protect a famous historical dead dude” didn’t see like the best way of keeping the hot streak alive. And if this episode had focused mainly on the fight to protect George Washington (played by Randall Batinkoff), it probably would have floundered. The show’s portrayal of Washington was about as bland and straightforward as its Ulysses S. Grant from earlier this season. With his penchant for flowery speeches and obsession with military decorum, it’s like he walked straight out of an elementary school history textbook.Fortunately, Washington himself was more or less an afterthought here. The real focus was on the painful reunion between the Legends and their old captain, now rebooted as a nihilistic villain who’d rather trample over history than safeguard it. As fun as it was watching Arthur Darvill play Rip as a cowardly American hippie in recent episodes, it’s even more entertaining watching this new version. Perhaps in part because he doesn’t just come across as a brainwashed tool of the Legion of Doom. There was a real weight to Rip’s words as he reflected on his past self’s willingness to be manipulated by others and his failure to save his own family. While the new Rip may be a product of brainwashing, there’s little denying that he already existed somewhere in the old Rip’s mind. Once again, it’s great to see the writers pushing the character in such new and dramatic directions rather than simply roll him back into the cast as if nothing had changed.Evil Rip helped keep the conflict grounded throughout the episode. There was certainly plenty of the familiar Legends charm to go around. Mick’s narration in the opening credits alone took care of that, to say nothing of Ray’s mad dash through the Waverider’s air ducts or Professor Stein’s hilarious Dr. McCoy homage. But despite the healthy dose of humor, “Turncoat” actually proved to be one of the darker episodes of the season. Sara very nearly died at Rip’s hand. Jax was forced to take over as captain and found himself on the brink of shooting Rip. Professor Stein nearly had a panic attack while trying to save Sara. And while everything generally worked out in the end, there’s no getting around the fact that once again, the Legends allowed another priceless artifact to fall into the Legion’s clutches. This is a team that loses even when they win, and that’s a major source of their appeal.That dark turn definitely worked in Jax’s favor. He’s a character who tends to be used for comic relief or as a foil to Stein, so it was nice to see Jax front-and-center and really dealing with some complicated emotional baggage as he confronted Rip. His game of cat-and-mouse with Rip was nothing if not suspenseful, and his struggle to stop himself from killing his old captain felt very genuine. By the end it was hard not to root for Jax to gun down Rip given the emotional gauntlet he had just been through. Luckily, the writers seemed to know when to ease off the gas and let the darkness recede in favor of some good, old-fashioned Christmas charm. That impromptu celebration helped balance out the otherwise glum conclusion to this week’s conflict, while also reminding us what a tight-knit group the Legend shave become since first banding together to hunt Vandal Savage.It really seems like Legends of Tomorrow can do no wrong lately. Even in an episode that ran the risk of retreating into simpler, more formulaic time travel fare, the show managed to deliver a wildly entertaining adventure that balanced dark character drama, sexual tension and wacky superheroics. The debut of dark Rip Hunter is just one more inspired addition to a show that already has so much working in its favor.

REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Arthur Darvill (Robin Hood)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow0
Ciara Renée (The Flash)
Amber Pemberton (Anomaly)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Dominic Purcell (Blade: Trinity)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Peter Francis James (The Losers)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Cameron Bancroft (Code Name: Eternity)
Stephanie Corneliussen (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Joseph David-Jones (Allegiant)
Jamie Andrew Cutler (Kick-Ass 2)
Callum Rennie (Flashforward)
Ali Liebert (Bomb Girls)
Matt Nable (Riddick)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Cory Gruter-Andrew (The 100)
Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Faye Kingslee (In Time)
Celia Imrie (Highlander)
Jessica Sipos (Slasher)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Isabella Hoffmann (Burlesque)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Patrick J. Adams (Suits)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Jonathan Schaech (Prom Night)

I’ve become so hooked on the DC Comics universe that has been unfolding on the CW that as soon as it was announced, I knew I’d be jumping on board with Legends of Tomorrow. After all, they were culling supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash, and both shows spent so much time setting up this spin off early in the season. I could hardly wait for season 1 to premier in January. And my faith was rewarded.

The show begins as Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) appears in 2016. He’s from the future, and he has a mission he needs help with. In the future, Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), an immortal, has taken over the world as a dictator. The only hope is for him to assemble a team from the present day to fight Vandal across time. This group of “heroes” include Ray Palmer and his Atom suit (Brandon Routh), both halves of Firestorm, Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh), Mick Rory and Leonard Snart better known as Heat Wave and Captain Cold (Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller), a resurrected Sarah Lance aka White Canary (Caity Lotz) and Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall also known as Hawkgirl and Hawkman (Ciara Renee and Carter Hall) who have had many run ins with Savage over the centuries.

However, it isn’t long before this ragtag group learns that this mission isn’t exactly sanctioned by the Time Lords that Rip Hunter claims to work for. Furthermore, defeating Savage appears to be even harder than they first thought. What other secrets is Rip hiding? Will this team be able to come together to defeat Savage?

Actually, Rip Hunter is the only character that viewers of Arrow and The Flash hadn’t already met since much of the backstory for the series was set up in the annual crossover event that aired in November. As a result, the two part season premier moved quickly since we could jump into the action once the team is assembled.

Since Rip has a time ship, we jump around in time quite a bit, which is a lot of fun. A visit to small town Oregon in the 1950’s becomes a bit preachy, but other than that, we focus on the story and the complications our heroes face in each time while tracking Savage. We spend time in Russia during the Cold War and even the Wild West. There are actually several two parters, or at least two shows set in the same period, which gives us some interesting cliffhangers. A few episodes stood on their own and even didn’t tie in directly to the quest to stop Savage, but they were always fun.

I was actually worried that with a cast this big, we wouldn’t get to know the characters that well. On the contrary, we got some great development for all the characters over the course of the season. Some episodes focused more on some characters than others, but everyone had something to do, and we had some nice arcs before the season was over.

Those looking for action will find plenty to enjoy here as well with several action scenes each episode; this is a comic book show after all. I think this show has more action than the others in the Arrowverse, but it could just be that the scenes can be more epic with the larger cast of heroes.
The acting is just a touch on the over the top side of the spectrum. This is especially true from Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell. Actually, this adds a very fun campy feel to the whole show, and I loved it. When the show called for a series moment, the actors always hit it out of the park.
And the writers give these characters some funny lines. There are some classic one liners in the show, mostly coming from Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell’s characters, but everyone gets their fair share of great lines.

So if you are looking for a fun trip through time fighting evil, Legends of Tomorrow is for you. Season 1 is pure escapism, and you’ll love every second of it.