Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Happy Fifteen Anniversary To New Who!

Just realized another anniversary slipped by me, what with the End Of The World currently happening and all. March 26 was the FIFTEENTH Anniversary of the return of Doctor Who! Fifteen years! How is that even possible?

Doctor Who ran on the BBC from 1963 (premiering the day after JFK was assassinated!) and ran until 1989 totaling a whopping 861 episodes! Holy Crap! That's a LOT of episodes!

There were numerous attempts to bring the show back over the years, but most never panned for various reasons. The BBC in particular demonstrated an appalling lack of interest in resurrecting the show, which is odd considering the amount of money they were raking in from various Who-related merchandise.

For years producer Philip Segal attempted to relaunch the show in America, without any success. Finally in 1996, the Fox Network agreed to film a TV movie that would serve as a pilot for a new series. 

The TV movie, simply titled Doctor Who, was a co-production between Fox, BBC Television, BBC Worldwide and Universal Television. With a budget of $5 million (an amount the original show could only dream of), the movie featured updated special effects and impressive CGI graphics.

Unfortunately the ratings were less than spectacular, and the project died then and there. While comic book and sci-fi fans were well versed in Doctor Who, the vast majority of Americans were unfamiliar with the character and tuned out in droves. It was just too weird for the general public.

Finally in 2003, producer Russell T Davies convinced the BBC to do a proper revival of the show. Unlike the original Doctor Who, which featured multi-part stories, each episode of this new series would be self-contained, clocking in at forty five minutes. This was intended to help speed up the pace of the show.

Davies claims he wanted the tone and structure of the show to be similar to such American series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Smallville. In particular he liked Buffy's trend of featuring a season-long arc that built up to a confrontation with a "Big Bad."

In 2004, actor Christopher Eccleston was cast as the Doctor. Unlike old school Doctors who generally wore outlandish period-inspired costumes (often festooned with question marks!), Eccleston's wardrobe was downright pedestrian. He was decked out in a plain t-shirt, pants and boots, topped off with a black leather jacket. He wouldn't have looked out of place on any street in England or America.

British pop star Billie Piper was cast as his companion Rose Tyler. Virtually unheard of at the time in America, she was a big deal in Britain, releasing several bestselling albums.

Filming began in mid-2004 in Cardiff, Wales. The new series premiered on March 26, 2005, and was a certified hit, as the first episode titled Rose pulled in 10.5 million viewers in England. That number rose (heh) once the series debuted in other countries.

If I'm being honest, Eccleston isn't my favorite Doctor. He wasn't terrible in the role by any means, but I just never warmed up to him for some reason. He seemed too somber and morose, lacking the manic energy and eccentric charm of previous incarnations of the character. He finally started growing on me toward the end of the season, and then of course announced he was leaving the show. Typical.

The first episode not only introduced us to Rose Tyler, but her mother Jackie and boyfriend Mickey Smith as well. This was the first time any iteration of the series had given the Doctor's companion an actual family, who became recurring characters. It was a welcome change.

In a stroke of absolute genius, Russell T Davies figured out a way for the show to be both a continuation of the original and a fresh start at the same time. When we first meet this new, recently-regenerated Ninth Doctor, he's the same character we all knew and loved from the old series. 

But he also reveals that he's completely alone in the universe, as his race the Time Lords have all been wiped out in a mysterious and massive cataclysm.

By not explaining what happened to the Time Lords right off the bat, Davies leveled the playing field. Long time fans were just as in the dark about what happened as new viewers. Brilliant!

I'm not a huge fan of Rose, as it's kind of an awkward watch. The tone is all over the place, as there are moments of genuine terror juxtaposed with humor that seems very out of place. In fact the whole first season of the new series is kind of rough, as the show is very obviously struggling to find its groove.

Fortunately David Tennant (my second favorite Doctor) came along in Season 2 and showed everyone how it's done. That's the season in which I became an even bigger fan of the show than I had been before.

Eh... it's just too bad that Doctor Who has sunk to its current, unrecoverable depths. I hate to say it, but I think it's time to retire the series again.

Anyway, Happy Fifteenth Anniversary To New Doctor Who!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Happy Fifteenth Anniversary To "The Office!"

This kind of slipped past me, what with the End Of The World currently happening and all. March 24 was the FIFTEENTH Anniversary of the premiere of the American version of The Office! Fifteen years! How's that even possible?

It seems like only yesterday that I sat down in front of my TV and watched the first episode. I have to say I honestly wasn't very impressed with it. Why? Welp, at the time I was working at the local newspaper and had a very, very Michael Scott-like boss. One who, just like Michael, thought he was hilarious, wanted to be everyone's pal and spent far more time and effort deciding where to eat lunch than he ever did on actual work. 

Since I was pretty much living the series on a daily basis, the last thing I wanted to do was see it again when I got home. So I ended up ignoring the show.

I don't remember why now, but I decided to give the series another try a year later. I watched the A Benihana Christmas episode, and suddenly I was hooked. I sought out the DVDs to get all caught up, and became a rabid viewer after that.

Apparently back then some people didn't understand the series' "fake documentary" style of shooting. I was once discussing the show with a co-worker who said, "That guy who plays Jim is the worst actor ever! Every week he looks right at the camera and makes a face!" Oy gevalt!

I remained a loyal fan for the series' entire seven year run. You heard me. I said seven. There were only seven seasons of The Office. You may encounter people who insist there were actually nine seasons, but that's just an ugly internet rumor. The series ended with Steve Carell's departure in the Goodbye, Michael  episode.

I have spoken.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 5, Episode 8: Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn Of Justness

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, we get the episode I've been dreading all season long: the departure of Brandon Routh as Atom and Courtney Ford as Nora Darhk.

It's actually quite a good episode, as it's a fun little period romp combined with some truly heartfelt emotion and heartbreaking scenes. That said, it'll probably end up becoming one of my least favorite episodes, simply because of the Atom/Nora sendoff.

Atom has been with the series from the very first episode, and quickly became one of my favorite characters (even if they never fully utilized his shrinking power enough). With his boyish naivete and boundless optimism, he's literally the heart and soul of the show. I'm not exaggerating when I say it won't be the same without him.

I feel much the same way about Nora Darhk as well. She's had one of the cooler story arcs on the series, as she was first introduced as a villain but ended up redeeming herself and becoming a valued ally of the team.

I honestly feel it's an incredibly stupid and shortsighted move on the part of the producers one that I think they'll end up regretting in the long run.

So why get rid of two of the best characters on the show, just when it's finally returning to form this season? There are lots of rumors floating around the internet (imagine that), some of them believable, some ridiculous. 

The most popular theory has to do with money. According to rumor, Brandon Routh is the highest-paid actor on the show, making significantly more than his costars. This fact caused the notoriously frugal The CW to terminate Routh and Ford's contracts in order to save some cash.

I have to say that theory certainly has the ring of truth to it. As much as I enjoy it, Legends Of Tomorrow has always been a very cheap looking series, especially when they try to recreate an historical setting. In addition, for a show about a team of superheroes, there's very little superheroing going on, as those visual FX cost money.

As plausible as it sounds though, that's not what's happening. According to Routh and Ford themselves, they were written out of the series because "their characters reached the end of their story arcs." 

In a recent interview, Brandon Routh had this to say about his forced departure: 

"Neither of us decided to go. It was (showrunner) Phil Klemmer who decided that it was time for us to go. Yeah. Before the season started, got a phone call that that was the situation. So yeah, we proceeded accordingly."

"My relationship with the show, it changed because the show changed. And then Courtney came on and that was amazing for our family. And we were very happy, having a great time working up there. So it was a shock to us, because I always had open conversations with the producers about the whole experience. This was sprung upon me without communication. So that was a challenging thing. And then the season became very challenging because it was just very confusing about why it was all happening."

When asked about the wedding of Atom and Nora in last week's episode, Rourth said:

"Well, it was great for the fans, so I’m really happy that it gives them a nice send-off. And I think it ultimately is good for the characters. I believe that they would have gotten there at some point. On a personal note, it was very challenging, because it felt forced, like we’re trying to make everything OK and make everything happy just by getting us married. Personally, we were not happy about it."

In a separate interview, Courtney Ford confirmed the "finished storyline" rumor:

“Listen, they said that the story had run its course. That is the reason that has been consistently given. I really want to be clear. It was never about money. There were never any pay disputes. It wasn't about behavior. We loved our jobs. We're grateful for our job. We wanted to keep our jobs, so every time they said jump, we said, 'How high?"

"So the reason was that the storyline had run its course and there was nothing left to write for Ray and they really wanted him to get the girl. You know, it didn't work out with Felicity. It didn't work out with his original fiancee. It didn't work out with Kendra. They wanted him to walk off into the sunset with Nora."

We, of course, didn't agree that the storyline had run its course, but it's not up to us. You know, Ray has a brother! Sydney Palmer! That's a storyline I was excited to see and I'm sad we won't get to see that. But listen, as much as I love and connected to Nora Darhk, you wouldn't say that she's an essential part of Legends of Tomorrow. Every day playing her was a dream come true and I'm overwhelmed by the positive response from the fans who resonated with her, but I don't know if she's an essential part."

I do think Ray Palmer is an essential part. I'm biased, of course, but I believe Ray Palmer and his heart are essential. But, you know, the showrunners wrote the story for Season 5 together and it's a story they believe in and I believe they love the show as much as we do and want to make the best show possible. You can argue that making a big change like this and taking away a character that's beloved by the cast and crew and fanbase at large Ray Palmer is worth it, if it makes the show better. We look forward to what the future holds and wish our Legends family the best.”

Before I go any further, I'd just like to say kudos to Routh and Ford here for being the utter professionals they are and handling the situation with dignity and grace. If it'd been me, I probably wouldn't have been as nice about it.

Anyway, there you have it, straight from the horses' mouths. It wasn't about money, but about character arcs. I dunno... I fully believe that's what the producers told Routh and Ford, but I'm still skeptical as to whether that's the real reason or not.

Are the writers really out of compelling ideas for these two characters? If so, then it seems to me like it's time for some fresh new writers! Hell, a talented writer can make ANY character interesting.

Just look at what the writers have already done this season. Heat Wave's Rebecca Silver plot had played itself out, so now they've given him a teenaged daughter he didn't know he had. Interesting! Charlie hasn't had anything to do for a LONG time now, so a couple weeks ago they revealed she's one of the three Fates of Greek myth. Also interesting! Heck, they even turned Gary Green around my making him Constantine's magical apprentice!

That's why I'm reluctant to believe the "No More Storylines" excuse for Atom and Nora.

I think what I hate most about their departure is that we've watched the characters struggle to get together for a year and a half now, and the instant they're married the writers take them away from us. We've been denied seeing their lives as a happily married couple. Surely there was some material to work with there?

Ah, I'm getting myself all worked up here, so I'd better just stop. I still believe this is an idiotic decision on the part of the writers and they don't know what they're doing. Let's hope they realize their mistake soon, and bring back the happy couple.

We'd all best prepare ourselves for more shifts in the team's lineup, because I have a feeling there are lots more changes in the wind. Does the show really need both Behrad and Zari 2.0? How long before Behrad gifts his Air Totem to his powerless sister? Now that we know Charlie's a Fate, is there any point in her sticking around once the Loom storyline's over? Same goes for Constantine. Once he fixes Astra's life and releases her from Hell, will he leave the Waverider for greener pastures?


The Plot:

On the Waverider, Atom looks through his mementos. Nora wakes and asks if he's OK. He says he thinks it's time for them to leave the ship and move out on their own. He says he wants to go on one last mission with the Legends and then leave. Nora agrees.

Elsewhere, the entire team (sans Steel) waits in line to get into the ship's one and only bathroom. Unfortunately it's currently occupied by Zari 2.0, who's going through her morning "glam" routine. While waiting in line, Atom & Nora tell the others they're leaving. Just then Steel walks up and asks what everyone's talking about. Atom can't bring himself to tell his bestest pal Steel he's moving out, so he lies & says they're discussing the bathroom line.

Mona returns (how's she know where to find the ship?) and tells Heat Wave that someone's trashing Rebecca Silver novels online. Heat Wave, who knows the troll is really his newfound daughter Lita, tells Mona to forget about it.

On the Bridge, Constantine explains that he's going to find the pieces of the Loom Of Fate so he can change Astra's life and get her off his back. Charlie, who destroyed the Loom centuries ago, says she gave one of the pieces to a friend in 1584 London. White Canary orders Gideon to set a course. She also confronts Atom and says he should get it over with already and tell Steel he's moving.

The Waverider arrives in Medieval London, and Charlie leads the men of the team to a pub. She says she disguised one of the pieces of the Loom as a ring. She spots her friend at a table, and the others realize he's William Shakespeare. Charlie asks him for the ring back, but he says unfortunately he doesn't have it. 

Shakespeare says he's encountered writer's block and can't figure out how to finish his latest play, Romeo And Juliet. His producer, Philip Henslowe, threatened to chop off his hands unless he finished the play quickly, so he gave him the ring in order to buy more time. 

Back on the Waverider, the gals hold one last Book Club for Nora. They invite Zari 2.0, but she says she's doesn't have time for reading. They assure her they never talk about books, but instead drink wine, eat snacks and talk about their problems. She decides to join them after all.

In the pub, the guys try to figure out how to get the ring back. Steel and Atom come up with an epic but preposterous plan, involving rappelling from the ceiling while everyone uses their powers. Just then Charlie walks up with the ring, and says she simply stole it from Henslowe while they were all jawing. Atom's sad his last mission is over already. Steel realizes he never threw him a bachelor party, and says now's a good a time as any.

On the ship, Zari 2.0 suggests they throw a bachelorette party for Nora. Canary calls Steel to ask how the mission's going, and he lies and says they're still working on it so they can stay in London longer.

Meanwhile in Hell, Astra visits the Coin Maker and tells her Constantine is going to restore her family. This upsets the Coin Maker, who's been a mother to Astra ever since she found her in the gutters of Hell. She tells Astra she doesn't trust Constantine, and suggests they use magic to spy on him and find out what he's up to. The Coin Maker fills a magic basin, which acts as a link to the real world.

At the bachelor party, the guys drink and give speeches to Atom. Heat Wave admits to the others he has a kid, and can't stop thinking about her. On the ship, the women have scooter races through the corridors, and order a male stripper dressed as a fireman.

In Hell, Astra listens in on the guys in the pub. Constantine immediately senses her eavesdropping, and walks around the place demanding to know who's spying on him. He bumps into another patron, which causes a fight to break out. The guys all use their powers to stop the fight, as Heat Wave blasts the crowd with his heat gun, Steel "steel's up" and Behrad blows them back with the Air Totem. Atom then drops his miniaturized suit, which expands and flies around the room before he manages to catch it. Constantine manages to block Astra's snooping, which knocks her across the Coin Master's room.

Shakespeare watches all this activity in amazement, and begins busily writing it all down.

Back on the Waverider, Nora notices her copy of Romeo And Juliet has now changed to Romeo V. Juliet: Dawn Of Justness. Even worse, the cover features Heat Wave and the other guys using their various powers. She reads a few passages, and realizes something's gone very wrong. The Male Stripper says that Shakespeare writing superhero plays is a problem.

The guys return to the ship, where Canary scolds them for not only lying to her, but screwing up history. She then privately asks Atom why he still hasn't told Steel he's leaving. He says when he does it'll all become real to him. She embraces him and says she's going to miss him. And to hurry up and tell him or else.

The guys (and Charlie) go back to try and convince Shakespeare to stop writing superhero plays and go back to drama and comedies. The Legends find the actors rehearsing the new Dawn Of Justness play, and tell them to scram as they've all been replaced. Their plan is to perform the REAL Romeo And Juliet to the crowd, hoping that'll restore history.

Atom finds Shakespeare touching up his script. He explains to Atom that he's planning to have Romeo and Juliet form a team consisting of all his other characters to fight Richard III, ala the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Atom realizes Shakespeare's in love with his characters and can't bear to write an ending for them. He says endings are painful, but they're necessary for growth. He tells Shakespeare that he's speaking from experience, and that once this mission is done, he and Nora are leaving. Shakespeare admits Atom's right, and says he'll give his characters a proper ending. Of course Steel overhears this entire exchange and leaves.

Back on the ship, Steel confronts Atom and says he knows he's leaving. He asks why he didn't just tell him, and Atom says he didn't want to upset him. Steel says if he'd known he could have made their last mission something special, but now it's just over. He says he can't believe he was the last to know.

Gideon announces that history hasn't been restored
— in fact it's now worse as there's no record of Romeo And Juliet at all in Shakespeare's works. Atom says he and Steel can go try to fix things again. Steel tells him the team will handle it and to just go.

At the pub, Steel and Zari 2.0 meet with Shakespeare. He says Harlowe thinks he stole his ring back, and canceled his financing. Now he has no actors, no theater and no career.

On the ship, Atom packs his things. He picks up a photo of himself and Steel in happier times and sadly stares at it. He places it back on the shelf as Nora comes in. She says they can wait till the gang returns to say goodbye, but he says they've already stuck around too long.

Canary enters the pub and sees Steel and Zari 2.0 moping. Steel says they've singlehandedly destroyed storytelling forever. She asks if he's just going to give up and be miserable now that Atom's gone. She admits she doesn't know what they'll do with out his "stupid plans" that always work out, which of course leads to an epiphany. She contacts the team and tells them all to meet in the pub.

Sometime later Canary tells the Legends they're going to perform the real version of Romeo And Juliet the the pub patrons in order to restore history. They don the appropriate costumes, while Gideon feeds them their lines over their earpieces. The play begins, and the crowd is instantly entranced. Shakespeare & Charlie watch from the balcony, and he realizes his work has worth after all.

Per the tradition of the time, Steel portrays the part of Juliet, as Constantine plays Romeo. During the balcony scene, Juliet's words hit a little too close to home, echoing Steel's relationship with Atom. He says he can't go on and runs off stage.

Zari 2.0 then reveals that she's a classically trained actress, and takes over the part. She wows the crowd as Juliet, turning in a powerful performance.

On the Waverider, Atom says goodbye to Gideon. He then uses a time courier to open a portal to a suburban street. He and Nora look at one another, then hold hands as they step through.

Just then Steel arrives on the ship, and realizes he just missed Atom. He sits on the Bridge with his head in his hands. Suddenly Atom returns. The two embrace, as they both admit that change sucks, but they love one another.

Back at the play, Zari 2.0/Juliet kisses Constantine/Romeo (which doesn't happen in the play) and the crowd goes crazy. History is restored!

During the wrap up, Canary tells Steel she'll miss Atom too, and offers him a bro-hug. Mona tells Heat Wave she's leaving, and says she's better for having him in her life. She urges him to contact his daughter. Charlie tells Constantine and Canary she can use the ring to find the other pieces of the Loom Of Fate.

In Hell, the Coin Maker asks Astra what she saw in the pub. She says Constantine's looking for the Loom, in order to fix her life. The devious Coin Maker asks if she really wants a screw-up like Constantine messing with her fate?

On the Waverider, the gang can't sleep, and one by one all filter into the Galley. They toast Atom with his "green juice," then begin retching on the vile liquid and all run to the ship's one bathroom.

 As the episode begins, we see Atom in his quarters, wistfully looking at mementos from past missions.

First up is a videotape of Singin' In The Rain, which comes from Season 3's Phone Home. In that episode, a young Atom accidentally discovers a baby Dominator and befriends it. He brings the tiny alien to his house and hides him in his room. There the two watch Atom's all-time favorite movie: Singin' In The Rain.

I'm not sure what episode the dinosaur skull (or whatever it's supposed to be) is from. Same goes with what appears to be a glove at the left. Maybe it's a gauntlet from his A.T.O.M. suit? If anyone has any ideas about what these two items are, leave a comment below.

Atom also glances at a moon rock in a protective case. He apparently picked it up from the surface of the actual Moon in Season 2's Moonshot.

In that episode, the Legends are desperately trying to keep the last piece of the Spear Of Destiny out of the hands of the Legion Of Doom. They discover the piece is hidden in the flag placed on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Unfortunately Eobard Thawne finds out and hijacks the Apollo 13 ship to recover it. Atom stows away onboard, incapacitates Thawne and lands the craft on the Moon. He then steps out, recovers the shard and returns to Earth.

We then see a copy of Rock N Roll Rag's Punk Issue, featuring The Smell on the cover. This is a reference to Season 4's Dancing Queen

In that episode, the Legends travel to 1977 London to find out why the Queen's been partying at clubs around town. Atom gets involved with a punk band called The Smell, whose lead singer is none other than Charlie. For some reason the band accepts Atom as one of their own.

The Legends discover that Charlie is a magical shapeshifter and plan on sending her to Hell. Atom, who's gotten to know Charlie, protects her from the other Legends. Constantine says he's not letting a shapeshifter onboard the ship, so he casts a spell to remove Charlie's powers (which ultimately doesn't work).

Lastly we see an illuminated manuscript featuring Atom being knighted by Queen Guinevere. This is from Season 2's Camelot 3000. In that episode, an adult Stargirl hides a piece of the Spear Of Destiny in Medieval England. While there, she decides to form the Knights Of The Round Table, complete with King Arthur (!). 

The Legends travel to England to retrieve the Spear fragment, but discover Damien Darhk's there as well. He corrupts Arthur into assembling an army he can control. Guinevere forms her own force to fight back against Darhk and Arthur. Atom, always a fan of Arthurian tales, asks to join Guinevere's army to fulfill his childhood dream. She agrees and dubs him Sir Ray Of The Palms. 

Meanwhile Steel worries about his pal, as his big book of Arthurian tales contains an illustration of a dead knight that looks surprisingly like Atom. Fortunately Atom takes the appropriate precautions and doesn't die, and Steel's book changes to show Sir Ray being knighted.

By the way, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't point out that the illustration of Sir Ray in Steel's book (seen here) doesn't look anything like the one Atom gazes at in this episode. I suppose it's possible that the guys simply own two different books?

• Seriously, there's only ONE bathroom on the Waverider? That seems like a pretty major design flaw. Especially since the ship's seems similar to a TARDIS, and contains far more interior than exterior.

Actually this isn't the first time the issue of the ship's single restroom has come up. It was first mentioned back in Season 3's Phone Home. In that episode, Atom suggests a team-building episode so everyone can get acquainted. Jackson says, "We're stuck on a ship with one bathroom, we know each other well enough. 

• Last week I noted that the Legends were keeping Encore Marie Antoinette locked up on the Waverider till they could figure out what to do with her. Since Marie was also played by actress Courtney Ford and this is her final episode, I wondered if they'd have Canary "kill" her with the Hell Sword while we weren't looking.

Well... not quite. At one point Atom notices that both Marie and the bottled remains of Rasputin are gone, and asks Canary where they went. She says Astra must have somehow recalled them to Hell. So I was right that they'd have to abruptly dispose of Marie, I just got the method wrong.

• What's with all the sudden references to Wild Dog (of Arrow fame)? Last week Canary got an offer to come work for him in Star City. Then this week Steel mentions him completely out of the blue, saying, "And then we go to Star City, we pick up Wild Dog, and we..." before he's interrupted.

Seems odd that they'd mention Wild Dog of all people two weeks in a row. He's actually been on the show before, appearing a couple months ago in Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part Five. Is it possible the Legends producers were impressed with him, and are slowly paving the way for him to join the team at some point?

Please tell me they're not planning on replacing Atom with Wild Dog...

• Speaking of replacements, back in Crisis On Infinite Earths, Ryan Choi made his debut in the Arrowverse. I could swear I read an article or interview with the Legends producers, who said they planned to add Ryan to the show as a possible replacement for Atom. 

In fact in Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part Three Ryan meets Atom and gushes, "Dr. Ray Palmer! O, M, Gosh! I'm Ryan Choi. It's so wonderful to meet you. Your second paper on subatomic density manipulation was the foundation for my work on miniaturization!"

So he's a fan of Atom, has studied his work and devoted his own life to the science of miniaturization. That would seem to all but confirm his addition to the team.

And yet, there hasn't been so much as a glimpse or even a mention of Ryan since the Crisis. Not that I'm complaining mind you, as I thought Ryan was pretty underwhelming as a character. But what the hell was the point of creating him in the first place if they weren't going to add him to the Legends team?

• When the guys go to 1584 London, Constantine dons the appropriate attire as he poses as a constable.

A bit later he wears another costume when he performs in Romeo And Juliet.

This is actually a big deal, as the only other time he's ever ditched his trademark trench coat and maroon tie was in Season 4's Wet Hot American Bummer.

• Looks like guyliner was a thing in Elizabethan England!

• Writing sci-fi can be hard, especially when a show features futuristic tech that can get the characters out of virtually any jam. 

Case in point: This week Shakespeare sees the Legends using their powers, and changes Romeo & Juliet into a superhero story. The episode would have been ten minutes long if the Legends has simply used their mind-wipe device to erase his memory of them.

They couldn't very well have that though, so the writes got around the tech by having Steel goof up the process and mind-wipe the Legends instead!

• I wasn't crazy about seeing Mona return for this episode, but she managed to not be too awfully annoying this week.

• When the women explain Book Club to Zari 2.0, they tell her it's really just an excuse to sit around and talk about their problems while drinking heavily.

A bit later we see the ladies hittin' the sauce. Amazingly it looks like Zari 2.0's joining in!

Woah, woah, woah! Wait just a minute here! A few episodes back in A Head Of Her Time, Zari 2.0 scolded a mind-controlled Behrad for almost taking a drink of alcohol. Such an indulgence is verboten in their religion, but yet here we see her seemingly boozing it up with the rest of Book Club!

I suppose it's possible she could be drinking tea or juice or something non-alcoholic. Let's hope so, else she be branded a huge hypocrite.

• In order to find out what Constantine's up to, the Coin Maker fills a magic basin with water so Astra can spy on him. Apparently the basin can see through time as well as space, as Astra's able to eavesdrop on Constantine even though he's currently in the year 1584.

On a similar note, during Atom's Elizabethan bachelor party, the guys also get drunk. If you look closely though, there's no mug in front of Behrad. He's practicing what his sister preached, and skipping the mead or whatever they're drinking.

Oddly enough though, we Behrad speaks he sounds like he's trying to "act drunk." When the other guys raise their mugs for a toast, Behrad holds up what looks like a lozenge and clinks it against them. We then see him eat the lozenge, with an unmistakably high look on his face.

Is this lozenge some sort of marijuana edible? We've seen him smokin' a bong before, so it's entirely possible. So Islam forbids drinking alcohol, but pot's OK?

• During Nora's bachelorette party, the gals race Genghis Khan's scooters around the Waverider, ride cutesy stuffed animals and even order a male stripper. As a final gift, they present Nora with her very own pony!

This is of course a reference to the fact that every kid Nora's ever Fairy Godmothered has asked for a pony. Apparently in this scene she finally learns the appeal.

OK, I get all that. But my question is... where the hell did the others get the pony? They obviously didn't have Nora conjure it up with her wand. And I doubt Gideon replicated it, unless she can create life. I guess at one point one of them left the ship, found a farm and brought back a real, live little horse?

• Constantine accidentally starts a fight in the pub, and the guys all end up using their powers to defend themselves. In particular, Heat Wave fires an impressive blast from his flame gun.

Shakespeare witnesses this amazing display, and revises Romeo And Juliet to incorporate superheroes! He even writes in a Heat Wave lookalike who wields a prop flamethrower!

We then get a glimpse at what the new version of the play's like:
Behrad Lookalike: Back, foul villain! (makes a whooshing sound with his mouth)
Atom Lookalike: "Take to the skies, brethren! For tonight there will be justice!"
Heat Wave Lookalike: "Behold! What worthy hero faces me?"
Steel Lookalike: "My face is silver, fists like thunder strikes!"
Atom Lookalike: "We must collect the gems to save the world!"
Steel Lookalike: "While learning how to work more as a team!"

A bit later, Atom tries to talk Shakespeare into changing the play back to the way it was. He refuses, saying, "Look, I have a plan. Romeo and Juliet will form a team, and I will henceforth introduce the allies Hamlet, Viola and Puck, who will join forces to face Richard the Third!"

So basically Shakespeare created the Marvel Cinematic Universe five hundred years early, as well as writing the plot of Avengers: Infinity War!

 HARDCORE NITPICKING ALERT! OK, about Shakespeare's idea to team up Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Viola and Puck in a crossover to fight Richard III. The minute he said it, my nitpicking sense began tingling. It's a funny idea, but unfortunately it just isn't possible in reality. 

See, all but one of these characters were created AFTER he wrote Romeo And Juliet in 1595. Hamlet wasn't written until four years later in 1599. Viola comes from the play Twelfth Night, written in 1601. Puck is from A Midsummer Night's Dream, written in directly after Romeo and Juliet in 1595. 

The only character who could possibly appear in this crossover is Richard III, whose eponymous play was written shortly before Romeo And Juliet.

Shakespeare can't very well team up characters who haven't been created yet, so his idea of a shared universe just isn't possible at the time of this episode. I guess we could be generous and say that maybe he'd already came up with the concepts for these other characters, but just hadn't gotten around to writing their plays yet. The trouble with that though is it makes the idea of a crossover moot. Who cares if Romeo & Juliet team up with characters the audience hasn't met yet?

• After the guys end up changing history, Romeo And Juliet becomes significantly altered as well. It does my heart good to see the show throwing shade at DC's terrible Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice movie here.

• Atom finds Shakespeare in the pub, and tries to convince him to ditch his new superhero version of Romeo And Juliet, and return to the original. Atom realizes Shakespeare changed the play not because he was impressed by the Legends' heroics, but because he's become too attached to his characters:

Atom: "You don't want Romeo and Juliet's story to end."

Shakespeare: "Exactly! I love the characters, so why say good-bye?"
Atom: "Well, if you truly love the characters, don't they deserve a great ending?"
Shakespeare: "I have always known how to finish their story. If I let them go, I'm unsure what happens next."
Atom: "I understand, but... endings are necessary for growth. No matter how... painful they may be."
Shakespeare: "You speak quite wisely."
Atom: "I'm speaking from experience. I find myself in a similar situation. When I'm done here, I'm leaving my team for a new adventure, and ending our journey has proven more heartbreaking than I can bear. And while I can't imagine saying goodbye, I know that I must."

Gosh, what are the producers trying to say here? Why, it's almost like they're using this scene to justify their decision to write Atom off the show, It felt like a huge middle finger to fans like myself who feel it's a stupid and shortsighted decision. Way to troll your audience, guys!

I actually felt bad for Brandon Routh in this scene. He clearly doesn't want to leave the series, but was forced to say these asinine words that were a little too on the nose. Ever the professional though, he played along and somehow got through it.

• In order to try and restore history, the Legends perform the real Romeo And Juliet for an appreciative crowd. To the gang's surprise, Zari 2.0 reveals that she's a classically trained actress, and takes the part of Juliet.

Wait a minute... in Shakespeare's day, it was actually against the law for women to appear onstage (!). Acting troupes generally used pre-pubescent boys for all the female roles. Women weren't allowed to act until 1661, a whopping seventy seven years after this episode takes place!

Instead of cheering Zari 2.0 as Juliet, the crowd should have been calling for her immediate arrest!

• Zari 2.0 wows the crowd with her performance as Juliet during the balcony scene. At the end of it, Constantine, who's playing Romeo, climbs the balcony and she plants a big wet passionate kiss on his lips.

Yeah, about that... there's no kiss at the end of that scene. I guess she wasn't lying when she told "Gidget" she was going "off book."

• After Atom leaves, Gideon's holographic head sheds a small digital tear for him. Awwww...

There's some obvious manipulation and trickery going on in this scene. Normally Gideon's just a disembodied voice on the ship, and rarely makes herself visible. Of course she just happens to show up as Atom's leaving the ship, so they can have a heartfelt goodbye and we can see her sniffling.

• At the end of the episode, Atom and Steel share a tearful and heartfelt goodbye. According to actor Brandon Routh, the tears shed by him and Nick Zano in this scene were real, as were their unscripted "This sucks" lines.

• Kudos to actress Sarah Strange as the Coin Maker in this episode. The minute that Astra excitedly says Constantine's going to restore her family and change her life, the Coin Maker goes all Wormtongue and starts laying a manipulative guilt trip on her. 

She reminds Astra that she pulled her out of the gutters of Hell and became a mother to her, and accuses her of tossing her aside once something better comes along. It's a devious and conniving performance, and Strange pulls it off effortlessly. Well done!

• Astra uses a spell to find out how Constantine plans to restore her life, and discovers he's searching for the Loom Of Fate. The second the Coin Maker hears about the Loom, her ears perk up and she urges Astra to find it for herself.

The Coin Maker is totally another of the three Fates, isn't she? I'd bet your money on it! She has to be, right? Otherwise why would she be so interested in the Loom, and instantly start manipulating Astra into seeking it?

In Greek mythology, the three Fates were Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. We already know that Charlie is Clotho. So if the Coin Master really is a Fate, which of the other two is she?

Obviously she's Lachesis The Allotter. According to legend, Lachesis was sometimes called the apportioner, and decided how much life each person was allowed. That sounds a LOT like what the Coin Maker does, what with her little watch-work coins that determine the lifespan of the people they represent. Stay tuned to see if I'm right.

 This Week's Best Lines:
Nora: "Morning, babe."
Atom: "Hey."
Nora: "You okay?"
Atom: "Actually, I was thinking about your dad."
Nora: (sarcastically) "That's romantic."

Atom: "Okay, well, uh, this is the perfect time, now that we're all here, to let you know that Nora and I... "
Heat Wave: "You're moving out."
Charlie: "Hmm?"
Nora: "How'd you know that?"Heat Wave: "Well, you got married. Next logical step in a relationship... and by the way, I heard you two going at it like jackrabbits last night."

Atom: "Of course, she means, Sara, please give us one of those terrific period-specific send-offs."
Canary: "Fine. (in a terrible English accent) Enjoy the jolly old London, ya blokes!"
Steel: "That was... that was bad."
Constantine: (glaring at her) "And frankly offensive."

Steel: "You didn't tell me you were friends with the real William Shakespeare!"
Charlie: "Well, I didn't wanna name drop."

Sharpe: "You know the other thing about Book Club is, it can help you figure out where your true path is supposed to be:"
Zari 2.0: "Oh, so this is a cult."
Sharpe: "No. No, no, no. We don't... we don't use certain C-words. Cult, clone..."
Nora: "I would know, because Book Club helped me move forward after my time in a real cult."
Canary: "Look, I get your reservations. The last 'club' I joined programmed me to be an assassin. But Book Club is helping me be a real person."
Mona: "And I killed a federal agent. I meant to lead with, 'I'm a Kaupe... it's like a Hawaiian Werewolf.' Book club helped me cope with that."
Zari 2.0: (staring in disbelief) "That's also a lot. Okay."

(The guys mess up the mission and alter history, which causes the cover of Romeo & Juliet to change. The Book Club notes the change.)
Canary: "Is that Mick?"
Sharpe: "What's Romeo v. Juliet?
Mona: "Shakespeare is writing superhero plays?"

Charlie: "Une question, Le Capitaine?"
Canary: "What?"
Canary: "Are you sloshed?"
Steel: "Follow up question: why is there glitter on your face?"
(The male stripper, dressed like a fireman, enters the bridge.)Male Stripper: "Uh, looks like your tachyon scrubber needs to be replaced. Whatever that means."

Shakespeare: "Just leave me be. I've seen your help in action, and it is anything but!" 
Steel: "So you're just gonna give up?"
Shakespeare: "It's like the tall one said, all things must cease. And this is the end of William Shakespeare!"
(He storms off.)
Steel: "He is so dramatic."

(Heat Wave leafs through the script for Romeo & Juliet.)
Heat Wave: "'My bounty is as boundless as the sea.' That's crap!"

(Steel embraces Atom before he leaves.)
Steel: "This sucks. But I love you."
Atom: "This totally sucks. But I love you too."

(The Legends gather in the kitchen and toast the departed Atom.)
Steel: "To Ray, who taught me how to be a better friend by being a better friend than I deserved."
Charlie: "He told me that if you're dumb enough to expect good from the world, the world might just live up to your expectations"
Canary: "And who showed us that there's never a problem so big it can't be solved with a smile."
Steel: "To the big guy."
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