DC TV Shows Review 2015: Constantine, The Flash, Arrow, Gotham
As with the Marvel TV review, I included all the DC shows I’ve been watching for review in this article. It will be broken down into 3 sections: Constantine Season 1, The Flash Season 1, Gotham Season 1 & Arrow Season 3. There will be spoilers, so if you’d like to avoid them, then scroll down to the last paragraph of each section for my ratings. Also feel free to add your own thoughts/speculations. Here goes:
First up is Constantine Season 1…
While I was familiar with Constantine I had not read the comics at all, so my knowledge was limited. With any comic series or characters I always tend to research them. So I did, and soon after I realized how much I enjoyed the character and setting of his world. For DC this is a very unique world in which to delve, and I’m happy that they have.
The show began a little too cheesy in places for me, but I soon grew to really enjoy it. The jumpy horror feel aside, the characters and appearances of other DC universe things made it worth while.
John Constantine could not have been done better IMO. Matt Ryan is the perfect person to play this role, and he set the tone for what the show was. With a supporting cast featuring Chas, Zed, and Manny (an angel), they work well protecting the world from supernatural threats, all while making it an enjoyable watch.
Papa Midnight was an extremely fun villain to watch, and I’m glad that he was a recurring role.
Unfortunate however were the uses of Felix Faust and Dr. Mist. Faust’s story was great, but I don’t feel they chose the right actor (though he did a decent job) to play the part. I felt Faust should have been more intimidating, but that might just be me. Mist (Nommo) was almost forgettable.
The only other comic book persona that was present was Jim Corrigan, who (as forseen by Zed), will one day become The Spectre. To me he stole every scene and I’d love to see his eventual death and reveal at becoming that entity.
Other notable references were Dr. Fate’s helmet and Astra. Both of which were utilized wisely for the fans.
In all, I’m upset that they cancelled this. Well NBC did. It appears as though there is a push from Stephen Amell and others to get another network to pick it up and include it in the “arrowverse”. I don’t think it was given a fair run. It took ten of 13 episodes to really establish what it was, and just when it got really interesting it was taken away. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for some sort of renewal, but for Season 1 I’ll give it 5 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.
Gotham season 1 was equally frustrating and fun. I love that they are tackling the origins of Gotham city, but at times it feels too forced. Let’s break it down.
GCPD is the most incompetent police force on the planet, and Gotham just made it more unlikeable. They are corrupt beyond belief, and yet somehow still manage to make you feel bad for them.
Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock are the two likeable things within the department. As partners they compliment and contradict each other well. Two sides of the coin seem to come together and balance each other out. Harvey pushes Gordon to do things a little less moral, while Jim pulls in on Bullock’s rebellious reigns. Every scene with these two is what really makes this show enjoyable.
Bruce Wayne’s detective skills already surpass that which was shown in the dark knight trilogy, so he’s well on his way to becoming the man he one day will. He is portrayed well and its fun to watch him develop. Alfred Pennyworth is oddly done here however. While I like the portrayal, I’m hoping to see a more laid back butler soon. He’s a bit too harsh for me but I can see it as he’s a standin father for young Bruce.
Falcone and Maroni are two sides to a mob war that have me constantly cheering for the former. Maroni is unbelievable in his delivery and is somewhat offensive to any Italian. He seems more wannabe than a threat, and I’m glad he met his fate. Falcone on the other hand is the real deal, and while he leaves for better ventures, I feel we haven’t seen the last of him.
Easily stealing the show is Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot. To see the rise of such an underrated villain is interesting to say the least, but it makes one of my least favorite Batman villains very likeable. His struggles and how he comes to manipulate and in the end achieve his goals is one of the more compelling story plots going on in the series. The same can be said for Edward Nygma “The Riddler”. His final scene in the finale was a bit rushed in my opinion, and it almost felt like scenes were cut out before that, but overall he’s highly entertaining to the point of cheering for him (almost).
Now onto the parts I hate about this show, and I don’t want to sound sexist, but for the love of God, the females are horrible! I don’t know what the writers are doing here. In Batman the females are always the more likeable people, but they are shown as annoying and incompetent at the least. Poison Ivy (Ivy Pepper) is the exception but she was shown little. At first she felt forced, but it works the way she is used. Sarah Essen also tends to work really well, as did Renee Montoya (and her partner Crispus Allen), but there wasn’t enough of them in the season to make noteworthy. Barbara Kean, Leslie Thompkins and Selina Kyle are downright hard to watch at times. Barbara seems like an immature college girl, Thompkins is an obsessive controlling person, and Selina is a snot nosed brat. My skin curls when these three appear because they don’t at all echo their comic book counterparts. And don’t get me started on Fish Mooney. I hope she’s dead. Jada Pinkett Smith is a horrible actress, and her terrible mannerisms are enough to make me want to puke. Am I being too harsh? No. She doesn’t seem realistic, and while we are dealing with a non realistic show, it doesn’t matter. She’s as forced as Maroni if not more.
But alas I digress. Easily I can say that appearances by Mr. Zsasz, Harvey Dent, Lucius Fox, Copperhead, Richard Sionis, Electrocutioner, Amygdala, Jonathan Crane, The Graysons, and The Ogre were all well done, especially The Ogre and Crane stories. Should I even mention the outstanding performance of Jerome (The Joker)? He isn’t the iconic villain yet, but to get a back story is exciting.
My last complaint is that the visual effects are terrible, but these are purely budgetary restraints. The Dollmaker’s experimental Frankenstein like person was only briefly seen, but it didn’t look believeable. Neither did the people who were using the precursor to the drug that will one day be known as venom (used by Bane). The CG just didn’t line up.
Was the show enjoyable? Yes, but I don’t hold out much hope unless it stops feeling forced and starts focusing on the world they have to work with. I want to see this last until Bruce becomes the man he once will, but for that to happen they really need to stop cramming things in. An older Gordon appearing in the “Arrowverse” or finding the right story for Barry Allen to travel back in time into this series is a fanboy wish I’d like to see. I’ll give season 1 of Gotham 5 out of 10 sCrypt coffins. It is more interesting than annoying, but barely.
Now onto something a bit more appetizing. The Flash is a pleasant surprise worthy of any fan of the character, and I may go as far as saying it had the best season finale of any tv show I’ve ever seen. It was emotional on so many levels, geektastic on so many levels, and the cliffhanger will make the summer months feel longer.
Grant Gustin IS Barry Allen/The Flash. From his debut in Arrow last season to constantly proving he is right for the role, Grant has gone above and beyond any expectations for the character. DC casting other characters in their movie universe is flat out stupid, because we’ve got perfection here.
Candice Patton as Iris West is not only a gorgeous person to watch on screen, but she really helped to establish the hows and whys of Barry Allen. At times, she is naïve and slightly irritating, but she’s overall a likeable and great character.
The same can be said about Detective Joe West and Eddie Thawne. The moments that they are on screen are perfectly executed. My only complaint would be that Eddie doesn’t really convey a feeling of true “love” toward Iris until the final episode. His exit was shocking to say the least, but after seeing him get pulled into the black hole I wonder if that means we’ll see him in some form as Cobalt Blue.
Caitlyn Snow and Cisco Ramon are bound to become Killer Frost and Vibe at one point (as foreshadowed and hinted at in the finale), and it Is great to see their destinies unfold. Cisco, while a bit dorky, is perhaps THE BEST character on TV. He is very relatable and doesn’t take his work so seriously that he’s a recluse. That role is better saved for Snow, who has quite the (pardon the pun) cold demeanor.
Tom Cavanaugh as Dr.Wells/Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne is every bit what makes Hannibal Lecter and The Joker fun villains. YOu almost want to see this guy succeed and continue to be a thorn in Barry’s side. The way his story unfolded was unpredictable in details and I hope we see a lot more of Tom in the future. (yes, another pun)
Ronnie Raymond & Martin Stein becoming Firestorm is also a plot point that worked. While Robbie Amell’s stiff acting as Firestorm leaves much to be desired, this version of a great character has a lot of potential. My complaint would be that we need to see his true abilities of rearranging matter. Otherwise he’s just another human torch with dual identities.
Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold is the same as Cavanaugh in terms of stealing the show. He’s made to be much more than his comic book counterpart but in a respectful manner true to source material. His often team ups with Heatwave and Golden Glider click well together and make for a threatening force. I can’t wait to see where they take Cold.
Other villains who appeared in lesser but still likeable rolls were General Wade Eiling, Prism, Blackout, Mist, Multiplex, Simon Stagg, Plastique, Bug Eyed Bandit, Girder, Deathbolt, and Peek-A-Boo . It didn’t feel jam packed with comic references and really gave the opportunity to focus on lesser known characters. I like being introduced to them on some level because it creates more freedom for the show writers to bring to light some of these often overlooked villains.
The Weather Wizard and Gorilla Grodd especially were pleasant surprises that I didn’t think would be doable on TV (especially in the latter’s case), but I was proven wrong. It wouldn’t be a Flash show without them. Instead it would be more like the less than notable 90s Flash TV show. Speaking of that… The 90s show was a childhood favorite for me, and while it wasn’t too true to the comics, I liked it because it brought one of my favorite characters to life. So, when I saw that Tina McGee was going to return with the same actress, as well as John Wesley Shipp, and the ever awesome Mark Hammil reprising his role as The Trickster I was over excited. Without crediting or discrediting the 90s series they made great efforts to pass the torch to this new show.
Rip Hunter and Jay Garrick also got shout outs in the finale.
From the crossovers and the buildup to what could be a potential Flashpoint Paradox storyline (look it up if you’re unfamiliar), I’d say we have a series that will last a decade. The foreshadowing, time travel, and references to the Crisis could make any fan giddy. I’m giving this show a 9 out of 10 with sCrypt Coffins. There is room for improvement, but it isn’t far from perfection.
Finally we get to Arrow. This is the show that started it all and established the term “Arrowverse”. While we still have yet to get the true version of Green Arrow and others, the cast is beginning to take a step in that direction. The third season had its ups and downs. At one point I even worried that The Flash was getting all of the writers’ attentions because Arrow slipped mid to late season in my opinion. Then the finale came and while the final fight seemed a bit sub par, I think it ended on a high note for everyone.
Black Canary/Dinah Laurel Lance finally came upon her destiny. Laurel was not just likeable this season, but badass. And when she finally gave her “canary cry” I couldn’t help but smile at the greatness of it.
Ray Palmer/The Atom was introduced in a great way, and he even dubbed the city “Star” instead of “Starling”, but I’m not sure why that wasn’t mentioned again. While he was awesome addition to the cast I hate what they did with his heroic side. I don’t want to see an Ironman rip off. I want the Atom that I know and love. Of course I went through 2 and a half seasons waiting for the Black Canary, so I can hold out until next season to see the inevitable shrinking abilities come about.
Thea/Red Arrow/Speedy was finally given a usefulness. She was pivotal to everything this season and with the departure of Arsenal, it’s nice to see her pick up the reigns. Plus her outfit is perfect.
Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer had a less than perfect role, but it was substantial and a good enough set up to see what he will do now that he is the new leader of the League of Assassins.
Ra’s Al Ghul was no way near as good as Liam Neeson’s version of the character. I feel that he and Nyssa were just a plot point used to turn Oliver into more of a Batman figure than anything else. It was wrong and irritating every step of the way, but the Lazarus Pit and mythology surrounding the characters made up for it.
And of course with that mention I’ll rant about our hero. When is Oliver Queen/Green Arrow going to stop being Batman? He’s not Batman! It frustrates me that the writers are taking the personality of Queen and making it something else. My only hope is that season 4 now has the opportunity to correct this.
Which brings me to Felicity Smoak. I love the girl, and she’s stunning to look at, but what a cry baby. It seemed all she did was cry or sleep with someone different every episode. The ending with her and Oliver seemed misplaced and I hope they start next season well, because this really felt like a series finale. Diggle has become a favorite of mine, and I’m hoping that he comes back with an even fuller role, perhaps battling H.I.V.E. and bringing the team together again.
While Ted Grant/Wildcat had a nifty little arc it was also great to see other known characters crossover and make their debuts. New additions to Arrow were: Komodo, Manhunter, Captain Boomerang, Brick, Cupid, Katana, and the mention of Damien Darhk who is bound to be the villain of next season. There were also numerous references to Green Lantern that were made in both this and The Flash.
I still think Arrow is one of the best comic book shows on TV, but if they really don’t define who he is supposed to be in season 4, then what’s the point? I’ll give season 3 of Arrow 6 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.
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