Monday, February 15, 2016
Must be the age thing. The older I get, the pickier I get in regards to entertainment. I hardly ever go to the movies any more because I don’t want to spend $8-$10 for something that might suck. Similarly, I don’t buy books at full price unless I skim them first, or get them from the library. TV’s even easier. If a TV show starts sucking, you just change the channel until you find one that doesn’t, or else turn the damn thing off.
My problem is that I’ve come to demand logic from my TV shows. I know, I know. Incompatible concepts. Especially since I like the fantasy shows, like The Flash and Supernatural. Expecting believability from shows about people who fly or hunt demons or run faster than a speeding bullet train is an inherent contradiction in terms. But just because it’s a show about people with superpowers doesn’t mean it can skimp on the internal logic, or good old common sense.
Case in point: Legends of Tomorrow. This one just started, and I’m still on the fence about it. A Time Lord—pardon me, a Time Master. Totally different, non-copyright-infringing thing altogether—gathers up a bunch of second-string superheroes (and a couple of villains) to stop an immortal bad guy who’s been creating chaos throughout history and is destined to destroy the world. The team includes a woman with wings, a guy who shoots fire out of his hands and the Time Master who owns a ship that can fly through the time stream. I can accept all that. I grew up reading comic books. Stuff like this is pretty standard in your average superhero comic.
What I can’t accept is how they’re going about it. This bunch is huge on superpowers and low on common sense. Last week they needed to steal documents from the Pentagon. They went through this elaborate mini-caper bit infiltrating security, which of course went awry and ended in a fight scene. Why? They’ve got the Atom on the team. He’s a scientist with a supersuit that lets him shrink down to the size of a molecule. What’s to stop him from shrinking, flying in through an air vent, downloading the needed files and flying out again? The plot, that’s what. If you let the Atom do all this—which he himself suggested at the start of the story—you don’t get any suspense, or the mindless action scene. These shows have an hour to fill, and they can’t afford to let logic screw them up. God forbid, the writers might have to come up with intelligent characters and more coherent plots.
Or how about the bad guy himself? It’s been established he’s immortal. He can’t be killed. No prob. Just turn to the Atom again. Atom shrinks down, comes up behind the guy, and surprises him with a face full of chloroform. Then stick him in cryogenic suspension. They’ve got that technology on the ship. No more bad guy. And no more series. That right there explains why common sense isn’t used more often on these shows. Although, in my opinion, if a show has to rely on illogical moves in order to stay on the air, maybe the writers had better think real hard about beefing up their premise.
The Flash isn’t this bad, but it has its moments. There was the one early episode with the bad guy who could turn himself into living steel. The only way for the Flash to stop him was with some supersonic punch that required a high-speed approach from several miles away and, if delivered wrong, would shatter Flash’s bones. Uh, no, not the only way. He could have used a trick from the comic: run around the guy at super speed and create a vacuum. Suck all the oxygen out of the bad guy’s vicinity. Bad guy passes out, Flash wins. But that’d be way too easy. We’ve got to keep those viewers glued to their seats. If common sense won’t do it, create unnecessary suspense. Works every time, or at least until the viewer catches on and switches over to Survivor or something.
On to Lucifer. I caught the pilot episode the other week. Yes, it’s that Lucifer. The fallen archangel. The source of all evil on Earth. This time around he’s living in Los Angeles. (Why not Las Vegas? He was headquartered in Vegas in the Vertigo comic series this show is supposedly based on. Vegas makes a lot more sense for the Prince of Darkness.) He also has a British accent, which seems to be de rigeur for the Devil these days. How about an Australian accent for once? Or a Scottish Satan? Or Canadian? The Devil as a Canadian hockey player. Haven’t seen that one yet.
Anyhoo, Luci’s handsome and charming and British and living in LA. And he’s—wait for it—helping a lovely young female cop solve crimes. The Lord of All Evil is a good guy.
I could swallow even that—I mean, this is broadcast television—if only he was halfway skilled at it. In the pilot episode a shooter kills a friend of his. Another lovely young female. Well, it’s set in LA. Luci interrogates the dying gunman. Why did you kill her? “For money.” The next logical question should be, “Who hired you?” I kept waiting for Luci to ask him. Who’s going to lie to the Devil? If the gunman had died before he could answer, I’d have accepted that. But Luci never asked. C’mon. I’m not Satan or even a cop, and even I know that much. He could have saved himself, and us viewers, forty minutes of TV time running around LA questioning red herrings with a simple, three-word question. But no, we’ve gotta fill up that space between commercials, even if the filler makes no sense.
I won’t be watching Lucifer again. Besides, Supernatural’s Lucifer is a far better character. He’d eat this poser for breakfast, British accent and all. He would have asked the gunman who hired him. And then brought his friend back to life. Or maybe not. He’s mercurial. I like that in a devil.
That’s what the producers of Legends of Tomorrow should do: ditch the heroes on the team and turn the show over to the bad guys. They’re a lot more interesting than the heroes anyway. You don’t expect common sense or logical reactions from them. You don’t know what to expect from them. That’s what makes them fun. The writers would recognize that, if they just applied some common sense. Or maybe I’m expecting too much.
I guess it’s back to reality shows, and wondering why nobody from Hell’s Kitchen has ever sued Gordon Ramsay for harassment and creating a hostile workplace environment. Really, would you work for that guy? Hell, he’d not only eat Lucifer’s Lucifer for breakfast, he’d serve him up on a plate with a side of fried beans. Now there’s a show I’d tune in for.