Saturday, 23 January 2016


Saturday, 23 January 2016


Ain't hubris a bitch? After the astonishing successes of Arrow and The Flash on The CW, most of the creative team behind those shows go for a hat-trick with DC's Legends of Tomorrow—essentially a small-budget Avengers wannabe, combining several of those previous show's best recurring characters, and a few of their lamest. It's a big, bold, brave decision to make something like LoT; it also takes a special kind of stupidity on the evidence of this ridiculous premiere.

Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) is a time-traveller from a wartorn future London where immortal despot Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) is close to ruling the planet. To prevent this from happening, Rip travels into the past and recruits a super-team to stop Savage: boyish billionaire Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), who has a power-suit that turns him into Iron Man The Atom; resurrected assassin Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), who assumes the role of White Canary; former high school footballer "Jax" Jackson (Franz Drameh) and nuclear physicist Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber), who can merge bodies to become Human Torch Firestorm; criminal friends Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller) and Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell), who have stolen freeze and heat-ray guns respectively; and reincarnated lovers Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) and Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel), who like to sprout wings to become Hawkman and Hawgirl.

I can't deny Legends of Tomorrow didn't have an entertaining first episode, because it has the budget and the sheer enthusiasm to power through a messy story. It also helps that most viewers will already be familiar with these characters from Arrow and The Flash—who have both been used as petri dishes for this latest spin-off, occasionally to their detriment.

I just question the sanity of the concept, which steals from a variety of sources and thus came across as very desperate to please. Doing The Avengers for the small-screen is fine, but LoT complicates matters by having the team guided through the past and future by a so-called Time Master—a lazy approximation of the Time Lords from Doctor Who, played by a familiar actor from that BBC series. Rip Hunter even steals a TARDIS time ship called the Waverider, which cloaks into its surroundings. Why draw attention to your imitation by casting Arthur Darvil? Someone explain this to me.

Despite having the luxury of not having to explain the backstories of its core characters, too much, LoT still felt convoluted and about to burst at the seams. It was hard to take pleasure whenever something exciting happened (like the team's first sojourn through time to 1975), because events weren't allowed to breathe. No moment ever clicked for me, because everything was being handled too hastily. And I still don't quite buy into why this group were chosen, Magnificent Seven-style, or why Hunter chose such a hodgepodge that includes two thieves only there because time-travel broadens their immoral opportunities.

It's also a problem that, frankly, I don't actually like half the characters. Caity Lotz was a fan-favourite on Arrow for a few seasons, but her popularity peaked in 2013 and I just can't get excited about her now. Snart and Rory (a.k.a 'Captain Cold' and 'Heat Wave') are a sorely overrated double-act, although I guess having two antiheroes adds some tension and stops things getting too cosy. They haven't been transformed into grudging heroes... yet. Hawkgirl and Hawkman are plain awful, and that's a particular shame because their dumb Egyptian mythology is directly tied into Vandal Savage's backstory—who gains strength by murdering them every time they're reincarnated.

Solely because Arrow and The Flash are so good, I'll keep watching LoT. A little annoyingly, I'm sure crossover episodes are being planned between all three shows now, so opting out of one will reduce my enjoyment of the other two. Clever, aren't they? But I'm nobody's fool. If LoT doesn't find a rhythm and tone I like, or find ways to make me care about some of its subpar members, and what they're going through together, I'll cut the cord. Every show deserves a chance, and the makers of this series have a proven track record, so there's definitely hope.

I didn't hate Legends of Tomorrow's premiere, I just thought it was a very unoriginal, contrived, predictable mess.

Thursdays • The CW