Doctor Who & some DC shows, The Flash & Black Lightning, (plus Riverdale) returned for new seasons. (Meanwhile The Venture Brothers & Lodge 49 just had great season finales.) The Whovian portion could’ve been published separately sooner, but I sacrificed timeliness for a rhyming headline because my priorities are in order! You know the drill: SPOILER reviews down under!
There was a lot of polarizing hype around the new era of Doctor Who. Before anyone had even seen the first episode, it seemed like half the fandom automatically loved it for finally having a female Doctor while the other half automatically hated it for that reason. Now that I’ve seen “The Woman Who Fell To Earth,” I’m sad to say it didn’t stick the landing. The kneejerk reaction would be to use new star Jodie Whitaker as the scapegoat, but the actual blame should rest with new showrunner Chris Chibnall.
Jodie Whittaker is a very sunny
Fourteenth Thirteenth Doctor. I’d have an better impression of her if the writing didn’t let her down. She has semi-amnesia for most of the episode so that didn’t help. Her undyed roots (still not ginger) are the second oddest regeneration change after the Third Doctor’s tattoo. Hopefully she won’t have to spend the entire season searching for her TARDIS, which is explicitly a place that’s only letters.
How did the guy who sister was abducted by aliens know how to build device that tracked alien energy spikes? That’s even before we ponder the logistics about how he was able to swiftly transport a giant turnip transport pod of unbeknown weight that’s freezing to the touch out of the woods back to his workshop. How did his workshop have all the necessary components for The Doctor to build a fully functioning sonic screwdriver? It’s not like she was at a UNIT or Torchwood scrapyard, so that implausibility undercut what could’ve been a cool defining moment. Apparently a Sheffield drunk nonchalantly tossing his salad at a scary alien was the most realistic bit?
So if the alien finds the random human, he gets to be the new leader of his planet? No longer is combat the dumbest way to decide monarchy! Whoever set up this competition must’ve told them who the prey was because the data coil manifested exactly where he was. So how is this a challenge if even cheating seems unnecessary? If the bombs were implanted in witnesses to cover up the cheating, why didn’t he detonate them instantly? (The Doctor was able to remove them & implant them in his coil probe offscreen.) Explaining everything to The Doctor was out of character given his earlier preference to killing without answering questions. Where was all his competition? Multiple tooth-collecting Ice-Predators might’ve made this story exciting!
The Doctor insulted everyone who carries knives. I know knife violence is a more visible issue in the UK, but that seems like the kind of reductive generalization The Doctor should warn against. It’s not like sonic screwdrivers are a real life alternative. Why is alright for The Doctor to feed the pain of exploding bombs into the alien but not okay for the guy being hunted to kick him off the crane? So the longstanding hypocrisy on violence remains intact.
The new companions are fine but feel like the same type of contemporary companions we’ve been getting since the reboot at a lower wattage. I don’t even have dyspraxia, & I think forcing people to rides bikes is cruel. Grace’s death felt more gratuitous than fridgings tend to be.
Plot holes are common in Doctor Who, but usually they’re handled with more ingenuity, humor, or panache. This episode was flat & slow. It feels like a forgettable mid-season episode, not the dawn of a bold new era. It’s even more underwhelming in comparison to the premieres of the RTD & Moffat reigns. This really needed to be a humdinger to win over the naysayers (& validate the supporters). Chibnall can’t just coast on the novelty of debuting the first canonical woman Doctor.
The Flash’s fifth season starts off on the right foot. Three speedsters phasing a plane through skyscrapers was an impressive climax. The new suit (designed by Ryan “The Atom” Choi to shrink inside a ring) looks off without the chinguard even if it’s more classic. CCPD never hired a replacement CSI for Barry Allen?
Jessica Parker Kennedy is well cast as Nora West-Allen, who actually is XS instead of a Tornado Twin. Negative tachyons were a good excuse for why she couldn’t be returned to the future aboard The Waverider. (I’m glad the focus shifted from corrupting the timestream again to familial selfishness.) It’s a pity Kid Flash never got to deliver a voiceover like XS. Supervillain secret identities being scrubbed from The Flash Museum (plus the STAR Labs satellite being wrecked) keeps her from divulging too many spoilers.
The abundant fan service was handled just right. It rewarded longtime viewers & comic fans while hinting at upcoming events without being too distracting. The coroner’s alias, Cameron Mahkent, is the real name of The Icicle. So maybe Killer Frost’s dad is another icy foe? XS already knows the LOSH’s Lightning Lad & talks like Batman Beyond. Are Happy Harbor’s Masons related to Rex “Metamorpho” Mason? My body is ready for the Gorilla Grodd vs. King Shark battle! I’d also like an episode where Mirror Master steals The Flash’s reflection so he thinks he’s become a vampire.
The best gag is Elongated Man misheard Earth-2 as “Earth, also!” (The runner-up is Joe napping in the hidden lounge.) He’s a hoot even without using his rubberface talents. They even lampshaded that Ralph Dibny had originally been named as a particle acclerator casualty.
After being squandered as Colossus for four X-Men films, Daniel Cudmore became clearance Juggernaut thanks to Gridlock’s vague inertia power. Then Cicada killed Gridlock. (Did you know Freddie Prinze Jr. saved a man Chris Klein threw into the Thames? He’s the worst Chris.) After wasting many potential recurring foes last season, I’m wary about Cicada killing what metacrooks remain. Don’t you dare hurt Rainbow Raider!
Thanks to the rise of superpowered
Bang Babies Green Light Babies & their persecution by the authorities, Black Lightning is now The Gifted,which makes watching that instead of The Flash redundant. (Or is The Gifted now Black Lightning since the human doctor’s husband manifested superpowers?) It starts with a parkade cat fight where Vice Principal Fowdy kills Syonide with her shoe! Can’t Tobias have Syonide resurrected like LaLa? Thunder robbed a drug den to fund a class action suit against the government! Tobias Whale’s harpoon game is on point! Not only does Commissioner Henderson know his alter ego, Jefferson Pierce has to resign as Principal to save Garfield High! It deals with weighty issues while still providing pulpy action without needing to be on cable or Netflix! Continue being shockingly great!
I was expecting to have more DC shows to talk about, but Supergirl & Legends of Tomorrow are running late. I’m sticking with my vow to ignore Arrow until the crossover. (I dreamt Stephen & Robbie Amell were working at my local Dunkin’ Donuts & gave me a free USA flag hand stamp to get into the Arrow season seven premiere at the Lincoln Center locker room the next night. Quit trying to guilt trip me, subconscious!)
So let’s pretend Riverdale is a DC show too. Cheryl Blossom is an amalgam of Barbara Kean & Thea Queen anyway. Can she be transferred to Legends Of Tomorrow? They don’t have an archer, & it’d allow me to cut a show out of my schedule.
Immediately accepting a lousy plea bargain further proves Archie is a simpleton. The idea of grimdark Archie sounds like absurdist humor but the series takes itself much too seriously. The episode’s only laugh is learning their juvie is officially named for Leopold & Loeb. In addition to continuing “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” nods, the swimming hole of leeches could be a reference to “The Body.” (I haven’t seen any of the movies adapted from Different Seasons.)
Apropos of nothing, Dilton Doiley warns Jughead (who survived a dognapping trap) of some Satanic Panic role-playing connected to a Gargoyle King before being apparently sacrificed to it? So he’s the new Midge. Betty sees the twinfants being dropped into a fire but levitating. It’s unclear whether she’s having a psychotic break (at least counseling was finally suggested) or if this is legitimutant magic as consolation for Sabrina Spellman being sequestered on Netflix. I’m going to hazard Edgar Evernever’s generically named The Farm is behind this Gargoyle King hoax rather than Polly being right that her sister’s a hot mess. That kind of describes this series made of cognitive dissonance too.
This year’s crossover is named Elseworlds & features The Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths! Ruby Rose looks great as Batwoman even if her costume has less crimson than expected. Stephen Amell’s real life wife is Nora Fries. Jeremy Davies, who previously played Richie Simpson on Constantine (Are the Legends not participating to avoid highlighting a continuity error?), will be Arkham Asylum’s Dr. John Deegan. Is this really John Dee a.k.a. Dr. Destiny? Richie even has a connection to him via the Justice League Dark cartoon. Could the Materioptikon be warping realities?
CBS is developing a Secret Six show? I don’t trust them.
Come back for Supergirl next!