DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is very much a genre show that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. In that regard, it’s an acceptable offering in the slow season of television. Judged against the shows it springs from, and shows on other networks, it is lacking in many ways.
Although I wouldn’t necessarily consider “Time Travel” as a genre itself, many of my favorite movies have dealt with it in one form or another and these are obvious influences on DCLOT. Back to the Future, Terminator, The Time Machine, and maybe Looper, components from those films can be seen here. In following those components, DCLOT shows its faults straight away by failing to add or utilize them in an interesting way. There is the idea that traveling through time can literally cause temporary physical illness, but we will have to wait to see if that is expanded upon.
There are indeed surprises in this episode, but the story itself plays out mostly how you expect (apparently every bar in the Universe has a guy being a scumbag to a woman in the exact same manor). It’s greatest strength lies in its cast, specifically how diverse it is. It’s composed of two criminals, reincarnated warriors, a handsome billionaire with a high-tech suit, etc and seeing them all interact is pretty fun. Seeing their various motivations for joining Rip Hunter, fun as well because they aren’t all altruistic. Some want revenge, some want adventure, some want riches, but its who and why that plant the seeds for character growth later.
What’s odd is that most of the cast has already been introduced on Arrow or The Flash, and so the audience ideally has a good grasp on the characters. The fact that White Canary is bisexual shouldn’t surprise anyone more than Captain Cold playing the long game for his own benefit. Again, this contrasts against one of the weaker elements of the show in Rip Hunter. He’s a bit of cipher, in that we know why he’s doing what he’s doing but that emotional connection isn’t there yet. Despite this episode being Rip Hunter’s story, he feels more like a plot device. That’s not a knock against Arthur Darvill’s performance, as he seems like the ideal actor for the role. The way his character is written, even the way he delivers a speech convincing the others to join him, feels very dispassionate. Maybe because the audience knows whats going to happen ahead of time or maybe the writers were simply rushing to get the first chapter out of the way.
The show has a strong central villain in Vandal Savage and the various time periods that will appear in the show, and there is a good grasp on the 9+ protagonists.
I have to hope though that the show gets exponentially better past the set-up, and that Rip Hunter gets a bit more interesting. Right now, it isn’t quite as good as Arrow and The Flash currently stand comparing this week’s episodes, which is saying something because I’ve found The Flash to be slugging behind.
For this show to be a success, we need to see why this is a show worth watching, and that it can stand along side (not below) the shows that birthed Legends of Tomorrow.