The CW‘s Legends of Tomorrow Pilot: Part 2 TV Show Review. Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1, Episode 2: Pilot, Part 2 can be summed up as “busy”.That’s not to imply it’s bad; just that there’s so much going on in this show that no one element really has a chance to shine. Where we last left our heroes and antiheroes–and, to oblige the old time-travel cliche, when–they had conferred with Dr. Aldus Boardman, an expert on Vandal Savage, (Casper Crump), Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee), and set out to catch Savage in an illegal arms auction in Norway. This episode picks up right there, but things go amiss at the auction, as unbenownst to the Legends, Vandal Savage has the ability to sense when the two Thanagarians (Hawk-like aliens, for the uninitiated) are near, and when Captain Atom gets involved in the subsequent fight, they all escape but he accidentally drops a piece of his costume, giving Savage an advance in technology and allowing him to infer that his new assailants are from the future.
This was an opportunity to explore The Butterfly Effect (that is, the ability of even seemingly small alterations to history to change it in a big way), but instead of deriving drama by having the team return to 2016 and demonstrate what has changed in a harrowing, Back to the Future-like scenario from which they have to escape before going back to fix things, they merely are shown a simulation of an apocalyptic 2016 by Gideon (Amy Pemberton), the ship’s computer.
Instead, it’s back to America so Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) can meet up with his earlier self to help in the fight, while another group sets out to steal a mystical dagger that can supposedly kill Savage. This time, the show does a better job of simulating 1970s America, with more music and bell-bottoms, but it’s still not as well-realized as it was in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Then there’s a weird bit where Stein looks disapprovingly on his younger 1970s self (Graeme McComb) smoking pot. (Ironically to a song by the rare anti-drug Republican rockstar, Ted Nugent.) The latter’s behavior is supposed to simultaneously reinforce that it’s the 1970s, but in fact, the cultures in this case just don’t provide the generation gap for any real foiling. Back when Austin Powers came out in 1997, there was plenty to be observed about how much of the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s had been rolled back, but nearly two decades since, much of the Reagan-era “Moral Majority” is literally dead, and open advocacy of marijuana is back in full-force. Either old Professor Stein is a fuddyduddy, or he just doesn’t pay much attention to culture in the 2010s.
Rushed narrative aside, the show remains easy and captivating enough to follow. Unlike Fox’s Gotham, which in its first season suffered far too much from rapid-fire exposition dialogue scenes flimsily holding onto myriad subplots, LOT continues to punctuate enough of its twists and turns with action scenes, and those conversations that are there manage to be interesting enough not to overstay their welcome–perhaps this is because multiple emotions and values are rubbing together, as opposed to Gotham‘s many cynical shades of gray. Unlike The CW’s own The Flash and iZombie, though, this series so far gives no urge to reach in and hug its protagonists. Granted; it’s still young, but with this amount of divided attention, and a narrative that, while tangible, is still pretty unearthly, there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity for real empathy, unless they intend to focus in on just a few characters.
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