Saturday, January 23, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot, Part 1

After months of seemingly interminable setup by both The Flash and Arrow, DC TV's Legends Of Tomorrow is finally here.

So how was it, after all that buid-up? Eh, overall it wasn't a bad debut. It was a little rough around the edges, but that's normal with pilots, as the cast and crew get their bearing and fall into a rhythm. The series, which teams up eight different second stringers from the TV-verse, wastes absolutely no time getting started. In fact the various characters had all been recruited before the title screen appeared! The episode had to hit the ground running though, with so many different characters to deal with. 

I can see right now that characterization is probably going to take a back seat on this show. There's just not going to be enough time to give every character their due in each episode. Maybe they'll have them split up into smaller teams now and then, so the show can focus on just a couple of heroes at a time.

It appears the show's main premise is for the characters to travel to a different time period each week to stop Vandal Savage. I hope they're not going to stick to that formula every week though, because that'll get old real quick. Same goes for Rip Hunter being relentlessly chased by Chronos— I hope that doesn't happen every week as well. I'm hopeful they'll mix things up once in a while.

To get you up to speed on the cast, the main characters are:

Rip Hunter
A Time Master from the year 2166. He's basically the Doctor from Doctor Who. He's the leader of the group.

Ray Palmer, aka The Atom
A billionaire industrialist who wears a high tech suit that allows him to fly, as well as shrink. Think Iron Man crossed with Ant-Man.

Professor Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson, aka Firestorm
Stein is a middle aged nuclear physicist, and Jackson is a twenty year old auto mechanic. The two can merge to form Firestorm. When they merge, Jackson is in control of FIrestorm's body, while Stein manifests himself as an annoying voice in his head. Like Jiminy Cricket.

Carter Hall, aka Hawkman, and Kendra Saunders, aka Hawkgirl
The latest reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince and priestess. The two have been killed 206 times by Vandal Savage, who gains power from their deaths. Whenever they're reincarnated, they always manage to find one another and live out their new lives together.

Sara Lance, aka White Canary
Originally just the Canary, after dying and being resurrected she calls herself White Canary. She has higher than normal strength and is skilled in many forms of combat. She's the "Black Widow" of the group.

Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold
A criminal who uses a gun that shoots freeze rays.

Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave
Captain Cold's accomplice, who's armed with flame-throwing heat gun.

The series definitely looks good, especially the vast Waverider set. And just like they do on The Flash and Arrow, The CW somehow manages to deliver movie quality special effects on a weekly TV series. Kudos to the effects team!

Lastly, this week's episode is titled Pilot Part 1. Obviously it was supposed to be a two hour premiere, so I wonder why they split it in half instead of airing the whole thing at once?

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
In the year 2166, the evil immortal Vandal Savage has conquered the world. Rip Hunter tries to convince his fellow TIme Masters to let him travel 150 years into the past to recruit a team of superheroes to stop Savage. When they refuse, Hunter steals a time ship anyway and goes through with his plan.

In 2016 he uses his futuristic technology to abduct the Atom, Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, White Canary, Captain Cold and Heat Wave. He tells the group they have a chance to stop Savage before he can rule the world. As further incentive, he tells them all that in the future, they're all considered legends.

The group is iniially reluctant to join his cause, but eventually all agree. Hunter says he's not sure where to find Savage, but knows someone who does-- Professor Aldus Boardman. He lives in 1975 and has devoted his life to studying and tracking Savage.

The Legends travel in the Waverider, Hunter's time ship, to 1975. There they find Boardman, who gives them all his research on Savage. He also recognizes Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and reveals that he's the son of one of their previous reincarnations. When Hunter tells Hawkgirl that Boardman is destined to die in the next twenty four hours, she insists on taking him back to the Waverider to change history and save him.

When the group returns to the ship, they're attacked by Chronos, a temporal bounty hunter. They have a shootout with Chronos, and Boardman is wounded. They manage to make it into the ship and take off into the time stream. Unfortunately Boardman dies of his injuries, fulfilling history.

The Legends then demand to know why Chronos is after Hunter. He reveals that he stole the Waverider to seek revenge on Savage, who murdered his wife and son. His mission isn't sanctioned by the Time Masters, which is why they've sent Chronos after him. He also admits that he chose them all not because they're legendary heroes, but because they have little or no impact on future history.

The group is furious with Hunter, but eventually they all decide they're not going to accept their bland, pedestrian fates and will do whatever it takes to truly become Legends.

In the tag scene, Vandal Savage acquires a nuclear warhead and laughs menacingly.

Thoughts:
 Somebody at the DC TV office is a HUGE Doctor Who fan. Rip Hunter is pretty much playing the Doctor here. He's a time traveler with a British accent who wears an overcoat exactly like David Tennant's. He's played by Doctor Who alum Arthur Darvill, aka Rory Williams. He's a Time Lord, er, I mean Time Master, part of an elite group that guards Earth's timeline. He even stole a time machine and is now on the run from his own people! Oh, and his archenemy is an evil immortal with a beard. The only thing missing is a sonic screwdriver and a robot dog.

About the only difference between the two characters is that Hunter travels with eight companions instead of one or two.

 Rip Hunter warns the Time Masters that Vandal Savage must be stopped. He compares savage to evil dictators such as Stalin, Hitler and Per Degaton.

In the comics, Degaton was a time traveling WWII supervillain who often fought the Justice Society Of  America. He learned the secrets of time travel from a robot named Mechanique. He was also a master strategist, and a member of the Injustice Society.

By the way, it took me a minute to understand what Rip said here. I've always pronounced the character's name "Purr DAY-gah-taun." Rip pronounced it like it was all one word, like "Per-dah-gatunn."

 Rip's time ship is called the Waverider, and is controlled by Gideon, an artificial intelligence program.

I'm assuming the ship is named after the Waverider, a character from the comics who could travel through time by "riding" the time stream.

In Season 1 of The Flash, Dr. Wells, aka Eobard Thawne, used a futuristic computer intelligence called Gideon to help him get back to his own time. When Barry Allen, aka the Flash, discovered Gideon, she told him he would invent her in 2024. 

I'm assuming Rip Hunter's Gideon is related to the one Barry invents, as it would be too confusing to have two separate A.I.s with the same name.

 It was awesome seeing Firestorm fly around the skies over Pittsburgh. But once again I'm wondering if he'll ever exhibit the transmutational powers the character has in the comics. So far he's just been a Human Torch clone.

Do the producers think transmutation would confuse the audience? Or is seeing Firestorm turn incoming bullets into snowflakes just not in the effects budget?

 After Hunter abducts everyone, they all wake up on a rooftop. Captain Cold looks to his right, sees the Professor  and says, "What are you doing here, Stein?"

How does Cold know Professor Stein? Did he ever meet Firestorm over on The Flash

 Hunter tries to get the group to join his cause by telling them they're all legends in his time. Professor Stein balks at this, saying, "Uh, I hate to nitpick, but doesn't a legend have to be dead?" 

What's the Professor worried about? Rip Hunter's from 150 years in the future. He could live to be a hundred and twenty and he'd still by dead before Hunter's even born. 

 When the team goes back in time to the 1970s, Captain Cold, Heat Wave and White Canary decide to sneak out of The Waverider and go out for a drink. In the bar, Heat Wave remarks that he loves the 70s because they have dollar beers. So how'd he pay for them? Modern dollar bills look quite different from the ones used in the 70s.

He also somehow starts up the jukebox without inserting any money into it.

 The Legends travel to St. Roch, Louisiana to find Dr. Aldus Boardman. Boarman's actually appeared before, via a video recording in the episode Legends Of Yesterday over on Arrow

Also In the comics, St. Roch was home of Hawkman & Hawkwoman for a time.

 Boardman tells Hawkgirl that in a way she's his mother. He's the son of one of her and Hawkman's previous reincarnations. Because of this, he looks like he's in his sixties while Hawkgirl looks to be twenty five or so.

There was a very similar storyline a few years ago on Doctor Who. Amy Pond and Rory Williams (played by Arthur Darvill, who stars as Rip Hunter here) were both in their twenties and found out that they were the parents of time-travelling cat burglar/assassin River Song, who appeared to be in her late forties or early fifties.

 After meeting Boardman and returning to the ship, a temporal bounty hunter called Chronos appears, looking for Rip Hunter.

There was a Chronos in the comics, but he had a vastly different look and origin. He was a supervillain who used clock-themed gadgets, and often clashed with the Atom.

 The Atom's suit blasters sounded exactly like Iron Man's repulsors. You know, that "wheeeeeee" sound that's similar to a camera's flash attachment recharging, followed by a blast? I shouldn't be surprised by this, since the Atom is very, very similar to Iron Man. I guess Marvel didn't copyright their sound effects?

 Ray Palmer was one of Professor Stein's students. Typically for Palmer though, the Professor doesn't remember him.

 While I enjoyed the episode overall, there was one part I absolutely hated.

After Rip Hunter recruits the various heroes, Professor Stein is keen to sign up, eager to travel through time and see the wonders of the universe. His partner Jefferson is terrified by the prospect, and refuses to go. 

So what does Stein do? Have a calm and rational discussion with his friend? Promise him anything if only he'll go? Nope! He simply slips him a roofie and kidnaps him! Worst of all he performs these shocking actions with all the dispassion that a normal person would display in making toast. Jesus Christ! 

This was a HUGE misstep on the part of the writers. Besides the creep factor involved with a middle aged man drugging a twenty year old boy for his own purposes, there's the fact that these are most definitely not the actions of someone who's supposed to be a super hero. Heck, even Captain Cold and Heat Wave seemed appalled by Stein's actions.

Worst of all, the entire incident is quickly swept under the rug, forgotten by all the other characters, along with the writers who are probably desperately hoping the audience forgets about it too.

By the way, why the hell does a middle-aged professor like Stein have such easy access to roofies in the first place? It's almost like this isn't the first time he's done this...

Later on when the group finds out they were chosen because history doesn't remember them, Stein sits down with Jefferson and has an actual heart to heart conversation with him. He says he wanted to go on this mission because he's getting old, and he doesn't know how many more chances he'll have to experience the wonder of the cosmos. Jefferson can understand a sentiment like that, and agrees to accompany him.

Too bad the writers didn't use this scene earlier and scrap the roofie debacle.

I'm worried that the writers may have irreparably damaged Professor Stein's character with this little stunt. Hopefully they'll find a way to redeem him somehow.

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