There's a lot of superhero/comic-book television shows around right now, so I thought I'd dip into four of the most popular ones, which are all approximately halfway through their seasons...
AGENT CARTER – 'The Blitzkreig Button'
We're halfway through this new comic-book drama, so how is Marvel's new show faring? After a good start, I'm beginning to feel less and less interested in anything going on. Some of that is an unfortunate byproduct of Agent Carter being a prequel—so it has no imperative ties to anything happening in the 21st-century set Marvel movies—and it's partly because I find its 1940s era a little drab and monotonous. I do like Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter; particularly the fact she's a "superhero" in the sense her alter-ego's a telephonist treated like a second-class citizen, but she's actually saving the world in secret. It's an amusing social spin on a hoary trope. Although it gets overplayed by the show, which hammers the 'battle of the sexes' angle all the time. James D'Arcy is also very good as her associate Jarvis. But am I eagerly anticipating the next episode? No. Would I care if Agent Carter was axed? No. It needs a shot of adrenaline, pronto. ★★☆☆
ARROW – 'Midnight City'
How long until every character's a super-ninja with a silly costume? Arrow's becoming ridiculous in that respect, with a few months swinging kendo sticks at John Barrowman or the odd boxing lesson somehow transforming characters into lithe superheroes. At least the show recognises the stupidity of Laurel Lance deciding to inherit her dead sister's mantle of Black Canary, with lots of scenes where she was shown to be courageous but slightly incompetent. And there's the interesting wrinkle that her new superhero identity is fooling her own father into believing his dead daughter's still alive… which is cruel, no? I don't really understand why Laurel's dad can't be told the truth. Or why he's shaved his head now. Oh, and Oliver survived being stabbed through the body (by master assassin Ra's al Ghul, who presumably knows the human body's exact weak spots) and thrown off a mountain. And I sort of want an Atom spin-off with Brandon Routh and Emily Bett Rickards more than the current Flash spin-off. And more than I want to see his Marvel counterpart Ant-Man, weirdly. ★★☆☆
THE FLASH – 'The Sound and the Fury'
But that's not to say I'm not enjoying The Flash, which continues to impress considering this is only season 1. Well-cast and energetically told, it's a testament to how good a small-screen superhero story can be with some belief and commitment. The initial mystery of Dr Wells has become fascinating, as it appears he's the so-called Reverse-Flash and has travelled into the past. But why is he helping train Barry Allen and improve the powers of his enemy? And how was Wells interacting with Reverse-Flash? Is there two of them, pulling off a brilliant mind-fuck? Oh, time-travel. Extra points for the recent Prison Break reunion of Wentworth Miller's Captain Cold teaming up with Dominic Purcell's Heat Wave, too—that was a fun episode. ★★★☆
GOTHAM – 'Welcome Back, Jim Gordon'
Fox's Gotham has been back a few weeks since its mid-season hiatus, and I'm quite enjoying it… but with the usual caveats. Whenever the show focuses on its criminal underworld aspect, things are a great deal of fun, but whenever it makes bigger plays towards the grandiose Batman mythos it feels cheesy or awkwardly written (with the possible exception of the Penguin arc, which is chiefly because it's interlinked with the gangster stuff and the casting's spot-on there). The Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle stuff's better than expected, but I continue to feel like the show's doing itself no longterm favours by involving the orphaned Wayne and butler Alfred. And with news that yet more Bat-villains will be thrown into the mix before the season's out, it feels Gotham's already-certain second season will either (a) lose impetus because all the exciting proto-villain intro's were done last year, or (b) force itself to improve because it can't rely on these irregular 'stunts'—which are kind of underwhelming anyway. The Bat-villains aren't much fun without Batman, and I still find Jim Gordon a singularly tedious and rather stupid hero. ★★☆☆