The State of Hero TV, Summer 2017

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It’s a great time to be a hero-geek. There are more and more shows, and most of them are pretty damn good. I keep hearing a few people fretting about “hero fatigue,” but I certainly don’t have it, and, judging from the box office for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, a lot of other people don’t, either. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is fantastic, with Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok coming this year. I’m a lot less impressed with the DC Expanded Universe (although I’m one of the few that apparently enjoyed Suicide Squad), but I was pleasantly surprised by Wonder Woman.

As I write this, the tv seasons for the various shows have wrapped up. I’m going to offer a few comments about what’s gone on, touch on vague recaps for the seasons, and then talk about what’s coming. Personally, I’m enjoying the vast majority of the shows, and I’m happy about most of the ones coming and returning.

Favorite Series: While I’m surprised to say it, I’m picking iZombie. I never read the comic, as I tend to be a more superhero comic book kind of guy. But the writing, humor, acting, even the little subtitles at the end of each commercial break are all really well done. It’s also the most solid series with the fewest disappointing moments. I can’t remember wanting to strangle any of the iZombie characters, and I can’t say that about any other show. Who would have thought a show with a zombie for a main character would be one of the funniest and best acted?

Least Favorite Series: Gotham. I’m sorry, as much as I like some of the characters. I just can’t get past how far they keep moving from Batman canon. Plus there are plot holes like no one being able to find the knife Mario was going to use to kill Lee, Ivy acting wildly out of character in saving and then suddenly becoming loyal to Penguin, etc.

Best Episode: Agents of SHIELD: “World’s End.” The end of Aida and the Framework, the sad death of Radcliffe, and a brilliant trick with Ghost Rider were just some of the high points. This episode had emotional death, plot twists, set ups for next season, and a lot of “Damn that was cool” moments. They went out on a very high note.

Worst Episode: Legends of Tomorrow: “Camelot/3000.” This had bad fighting, bad writing, questionable plot points, the pointless death of a JSA-er, and the one time it would have made tons of sense to have Malcolm Merlyn along, they left him out. I was disappointed in every aspect of this one. The cleverest part was the title.

Favorite Character: There are a lot of good characters around right now. I actually had a lot of trouble on this, but I think I’m going with John Diggle/Spartan, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow’s right hand man and best friend. He’s loyal, he’s brave, fiercely dedicated, and he calls Oliver out when he starts getting in over his head. He did the same with Felicity this past season. And I’m amused by his believable quirk of not being able to handle metahumans. His early reactions to Barry as The Flash were hysterical. If they killed him in the finale/cliffhanger/major explosion, I’m going to be furious.

Least Favorite Character: Iris West on The Flash. She doesn’t contribute a lot aside from emotional moments and damsel in distress peril to be saved from. She’s not a scientist, she doesn’t have powers, she’s not a skilled detective. Most of the time, she’s just kind of… there.

What the Hell Happened to…: Arrow is horrible about establishing characters and then forgetting about them. They did it previous seasons with Wildcat (and Roy Harper is largely forgotten as well) and Huntress. This season, it was Vigilante, who fought Prometheus, lost, and then was never heard from again.

Biggest Disappointment: The Legends of Tomorrow version of the JSA. For such a great team, they made a mess of it. Many of the characters never did anything, the lineup was a mash-up of characters from different periods, and there were random changes from the original characters for no good reason.

And now, the shows:

Agents of SHIELD-The Agents had a rough season. They brought in a few classic Marvel concepts and did well with them. The team faced LMD’s, and even made it work that those had been mentioned years before in the first Avengers movie. They also brought in a new version of Ghost Rider, marking that character’s debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They end on a cliffhanger that may be the beginning of a different branch of SHIELD from the comics. Remember, that “D” stands for Division, implying there are others. The Agents of SHIELD will be back for another season. I’ll give this past season a 4 out of 5.

Arrow- Team Arrow had their problems. Prometheus, the unstoppable serial killer, stalked the team, effortlessly learning whatever he needed to and staying several steps ahead of everything they tried to do to fight him. Felicity went to the dark side, Thea kept disappearing, and Oliver’s recruits for the finale were a stretch at best. They did go out on a hell of a cliffhanger, though. The heroes of Star City will be back next season. I’ll give this one a low 3 out of 5.

Flash- The Scarlet Speedster was mostly haunted by echoes of his own bad decisions. Barry has the soul of a hero, but the brain of a young teenager whose reasoning faculties haven’t really matured yet. He created a different reality, and then dragged back echoes of it to the “main” reality, and changed things there, too. Savitar was a constant, looming, evil presence in the background. We did get to see a few new rogues, like Abra Kadabra. I love that they brought Jay Garrick back again. The heroes will return next season after going out on a big cliffhanger and a few smaller ones. I’ll give the season a 3.5 out of 5.

Gotham- The story of the boy who would be Batman and the tortured police detective that will become one of his strongest allies, Gotham went even weirder this season. Nygma became the Riddler, the most direct version of a Batman foe we’ve seen so far. There was pointless Bruce/Selena drama, and clunky writing like Mario’s kinfe and the Tetch virus that just won’t go away, as well as the Court of Owls, who all got punked by Ra’s henchman the Sensei. It looks like Bruce will be closer to Batman next season. I’ll give Gotham a low 3 out of 5 for the season.

Iron Fist- Netflix/Marvel’s least popular of their newly developing corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Fist gave us the story of Danny Rand, his mystical power, and his return to New York. The show was hampered by a serious likeability problem with most of the characters. Danny was whiny, Colleen brainwashed, Davos fanatical, and the Meechums were all straight out of Dallas or Falcon Crest or something. Iron Fist is the only Netflix/Marvel series without a confirmed second season as of this writing. Star Finn Jones has stated there will be a season two, but that has not been confirmed anywhere. I’ll give the show a 3 out of 5.

iZombie- Liv and her friends had a rough season. They dealt with mercenary zombies, a mayoral campaign, redneck zombie hunters, and their own collective trainwreck love lives. Seriously, do any of them manage to keep a romantic relationship going? There are plots within plots, a coup, zombies cured and then reinfected. And, of course, a murder to solve every week via Liv’s weird visions and personality quirks, and Clive’s detective skill. By the end of the season, everything is completely different, and the world is almost unrecognizable from what it was when the first season started. I’m really enjoying the show, and I’ll give this past season a high 4 out of 5.

Legends of Tomorrow- Just as the Legends are a collection of heroes from different CW shows, this season they faced the “Legion of Doom,” which was a similar group of villains. There was some drama within the team, and I’d have to say some wildly uneven writing. They revisited DC Western hero Jonah Hex, and had guest shots by a very different (and disappointing) version of the Justice Society of America. They ended on a major cliffhanger, and will be back next season to try and fix it. I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5 for the season.

Powerless–sadly, this comedy didn’t make it even a full season. It was cancelled without airing all its episodes, and won’t be back. It was fighting against being a comedy, and not having any ties to a single character to boost. I kinda liked it. They made good use of some obscure characters. I’d give it a high 3.5 out of 5 for what we got to see of it.

Supergirl- I think they had trouble finding their footing when they moved from CBS to the CW. Supergirl lost a few chances at a love life, and mentor Cat Grant was missing until the finale. The lurking threats were Lillian Luthor’s Cadmus and then the growing Daxamite threat. And I’m sorry, but I don’t buy Alex’s newly announced orientation. That said, they did a great job with her relationship with Maggie, and developing President Marsden (Lynda Carter) into more than just a “Hey, isn’t that cool” cameo. The finale was sadly disappointing. Hopefully, they’ll get it tuned up a bit for next season. I’ll give this season a 3 out of 5.

Upcoming:

Black Lightning- This is a different show in several ways. It’ll be on the CW, but not part of the CW-verse with Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Maybe eventually we’ll see which Earth he’s on if Flash makes another dimensional hop. It’s the first minority-led hero show on a broadcast network (yes, yes, Netflix isn’t broadcast, no disrespect to Luke Cage). It also has the most background to draw off, as in this show, Black Lightning had a heroic career and retired and is now being drawn back in. I’m excited to see what they do with him and his daughters, who in the comics are both superhumans. The only thing I’m worried about is that this probably means we won’t get the live-action Static they’ve been talking about for a few years. I doubt we’re going to have two African American electrically powered heroes on at the same time. The Black Lightning show premiers in October of 2017. The trailer looks fantastic.

Cloak and Dagger- Cloak and Dagger did well with their own comic series back in the 90’s. They’ve gone from stars of their own series to background characters in the Marvel Universe. They are usually focused on taking down drug dealers, which were part of their origin. Now, they’re coming to Freeform, spreading the Marvel Cinematic Universe to yet another network. In the comics they were teen runaways, in the show they will have parents. How closely they will be tied to either the movies or the other tv shows (Shield, Daredevil, etc) remains to be seen. Cloak and Dagger and their dark and light powers have mostly recently been seen on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon on Disney XD. Cloak & Dagger premiers in 2018.

Defenders- Marvel/Netflix has introduced four solo heroes in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Now they bring all of them together, along with the Punisher (rumored) and a good bit of their respective supporting casts. It follows the model of the Marvel movies uniting in the Avengers. I’m very much looking forward to this one. The Defenders unites the Netflix heroes on August 18, 2017.

Inhumans- The Inhumans have been a part of the Marvel Universe since the ‘60’s. Inhumans have been built up over the last few years as a new oppressed minority, since Marvel Studios do not have the rights to the X-Men or other mutants (legal issues are complicated). There have been new Inhumans popping up on Agents of SHIELD for a few seasons now. With this series, the Royal Family of the Inhumans, Black Bolt, Medusa, and all, became part of the Cinematic Universe. Originally supposed to be a movie, the Inhumans will now be a tv show that time-shares the Agents of SHIELD’s slot like Agent Carter used to. I admit I’m not overwhelmed by most of the stills I’ve seen so far or the trailer. No word yet on whether the currently most popular Inhuman, Ms. Marvel, will turn up or be mentioned.

New Warriors- Of all the new shows coming out, this is the one I’m most worried about. The original New Warriors were a band of young heroes who made a formidable and powerful team. They went through several incarnations in the comics, with most of the team being slaughtered in the events that started the Civil War event. The show is based on the least-popular and shortest-lived version of the team. Despite there being many Warriors over the years, the show is bringing in characters that were never a part of the team, most notably Squirrel Girl and Mister Immortal who were in the Great Lakes Avengers. They are also changing at least some of the characters’ powers, and leaving out the most powerful members. The show will be on Freeform with Cloak and Dagger, part of the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, and premiers in 2018.

Punisher- Jon Berenthal did an amazing job as the Punisher during Daredevil’s second season. He did so well, pleasing both fans and critics, that the character became the first expansion of the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Iron Fist’s second season still not confirmed, he might even be taking that character’s slot in the rotation. While Netflix linking character Claire Temple will not be on the show (the 1st series she hasn’t been part of), Karen Page of Daredevil fame will be. Punisher may be part of the Defenders, and the first season will supposedly air in November, 2017.

Runaways- This is the series I’m least familiar with, as I never read the comic. The concept was a group of children of supervillains ran off to get away from their parents, united, and had adventures. This one is being made for Hulu, but is still supposedly a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing at least one character with Dr. Strange. The ten episode first season is set to air in “early 2018.”

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One thought on “The State of Hero TV, Summer 2017

  1. I’m with you on Gotham. The writing requires the viewer have the patient of a saint. It’s like the plot has bipolar.

    As for expansion, I’m still stunned. I thought there were already too many shows, but that just keep adding more. I guess I may have aged out of the target audience demo… But, I did see Guardians, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man on the big screen when, coming into this year, the only one I was really excited about was Thor, so while I might not be as unpredictable as the plot to Gotham, I just can’t fit all these shows into my watching schedule. I haven’t even finished the first season of Westworld yet!

    Like

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