Malfeasance Here! A new short story!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M4L0BXS

A new short story just in time for Halloween!

Mealfeasance Here

What stalks this town?

Judge Lamentations Dewe was a Royal Witch Hunter duly appointed by His Majesty. His brief was to judge and, if necessary, execute the laws against witchcraft, cannibalism, sorcery and other unholy mannerisms used as tools of the devil at the turn in 17th century England..
But when he arrives in Bradford-on-Tyne, he finds a town haunted by a force that might mean the village’s doom … as well as his own!

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Got to get WHO into my Life! Doctor Who and the Beatles

(Yes the title is stupid, but in over 300 songs performed, the Beatles had NO song title with the word Who in it!)

abbey-road

Were the Beatles fans of “Doctor Who”?

meet-the-doctors

The internet says yes. And remember what Abraham Lincoln said, “If it is on the internet, then must be true.”

yellow-tardis

I found no leanings yea or nay in the various bios I read in over 40+ years. They were fans of comic books, yes, but nothing on Doctor Who.

cybermen

Nor do the websites saying the Fabs were fans of the show have sources backing them up.  Various Beatle bios (as a group or individuals) are silent.

The interweb says there were plans on the Fabs appearing live in the episode called “The Chase”, but their manager Brian Epstein vetoed it. The git…

***

“Doctor Who” first aired on November 23, 1963. The Beatles second album, With the Beatles, was released the day before. By this time the Fabs performed in the Royal Variety Performance (November 4th) and will, on the 29th, release their single “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. They had finished a tour of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They actually had a day off from performing. Whether they tuned into the debut of a children’s science fiction show is unknown … but unlikely.

***

That’s not to say they didn’t watch the show in the years afterward. “Doctor Who” was immensely popular and, as is the case today with popular shows, the Fabs may have HEARD of it. They may have even watched it to see what all the hubbub was about …

***

On the other hand, “Doctor Who” definitely knew about the Beatles:

As mentioned, the unverified story is that the band was to appear in the 1965 episode “The Chase” as old men. But instead the show’s characters watched a recording of the Beatles performing Ticket to Ride – itself a clip from the program “Top of the Pops”. Ironically, in this early era most BBC television shows were taped over after broadcast. Episodes – even entire series – were forever lost. This is why some early Doctor Who episodes are missing – a few recovered only when a rare copy pops up in a TV executive’s attic in Australian or Canada. “The Chase” is one that survived, and thus so did the only known clip of the Beatles on “Top of the Pops”.

In the 1967 episode “Evil of the Daleks”, Paperback Writer was playing in the background of a café.

These two examples tend to point toward the Fabs being fans of the show. They (or at least Brian Epstein) would not have allowed their songs to be played otherwise, yes?

In the 1987 episode “Remembrance of the Daleks” (but set in 1963) Ace walked into a bar where Elvis Presley music was playing, and promptly switched it to the Beatles’ “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” Later in the episode, “A Taste of Honey” played.

lennon-dalek

***

Other Beatle references:

The Second Doctor, the Third Doctor, and Jo Grant all quoted the song I am the Walrus in the 1973 anniversary episode “The Three Doctors”.

In the 1985 episode “Revelation of the Daleks”, the DJ had posters of the Beatles in his studio.

In the 1989 episode “Ghost Light”, the Seventh Doctor told Ace “It’s been a hard day’s night.”

***

That was the TV show, as for the Doctors themselves …

Christopher Eccleston, born in Lancashire, played the Ninth Doctor. He told the producers that he could not do a standard BBC accent, so his thick northern accent was given a one-off line that I still love: (I paraphrase): “If you are from outer space, why do you speak with a northern accent?” “Well, every planet has a north, doesn’t it?”

He has performed as John Lennon twice.

“Lennon Naked”, a 2010 made-for-television biopic covers the years 1967 (after a brief intro in 1964) to 1971 (with some flashbacks). Among the highlights, the film recreates the photographing of the cover of “Two Virgins”.  This means we get full-frontal. Oh joy, we get to see Doctor Who’s shlong. Frankly? He has nothing to be ashamed of.

Milton Berle would be jealous.

He next performs as Lennon in the audio CD of 2013’s The John Lennon Letters. He reads John’s letters in character and it is a wonderful listening experience. Look for it if your library system has audio CDs.

***

Another “Doctor Who” connection is the made-for-TV biopic “John & Yoko, a Love Story” from 1985. It covered the couple’s entire relationship from 1966 to 1980. I was one of the twenty-three people who saw the movie on TV instead of Monday Night Football, where the Miami Dolphins handed the Chicago Bears their only defeat that season (the Bears eventually won the Superbowl against the Patriots).

mcgann-capaldi

 

Mark McGann played John. Mark is the brother of Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor.

 

Peter Capaldi (the Twelfth Doctor) played George Harrison.

***

I am Who as you are Who as Who are you and we are all together …

Nah, I like the other title better …

***

Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

Paul McCartney the Life, a review, part two

Paul McCartney, the Life

By Phillip Norman

A review, part two

Read part one here

 

Some time is spent on Paul (and the other Beatles’) reaction to John Lennon’s murder. Paul’s reaction (“it’s a drag”) has haunted Paul to this day, but Norman goes into detail explaining why Paul said it. He was obviously shell-shocked and it was the only way NOT to lower the careful shield with which Paul surrounds himself.

At this point the book spends less time reviewing his albums and their tracks – focusing on only a few select tracks that have more meaning to Paul’s life at the time (“Get It” was called a weak track for what would be a starring vehicle for Carl Perkins; “Little Willow” written for Ringo’s children after the death of their mother.

Finally, a complaint about the book: pages were spent on the album Off the Ground while the superior prior album Flowers in the Dirt was only given a brief mention and then only connected to his return to touring. There was no analysis of Paul’s writing with Elvis Costello (only his third credited writing partner after Linda and you-know-who). The album contained the song “Put It There” with the lyric “Put it there if it weighs a ton…” one of his father’s favorite phrases repeated throughout the first half of the book. I find that omission strange.

The last quarter of the book focuses on Paul’s interest in the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts and his entry into the classical music oeuvre (a word used, if not frequently, then more than usual in a biography).

The Beatles Anthology, his later albums, his on-and-off relations with George Harrison and Yoko Ono, and Linda’s cookbook and line of commercial vegetarian dishes were also given their due.

Paul’s (and Linda’s) vegetarianism were detailed many times through the book.

 

The last quarter also focuses on death; on the end of things.

The chapters on Linda’s fight with cancer were moving. Her concern over her children was similar to that of Paul’s mother for him and his brother. The author made a point of showing that echo. Paul’s statement on her last moments brings tears.

Paul’s childhood friend, Ivan Vaughn (who shared a birthday with Paul) was almost more so. The author reprints a poem Paul wrote that also brings a tear.

And then George Harrison died.

Odd that Paul’s father’s death in the mid-1970s did not bring on such emotion from Paul or the author. So much of Jim McCartney’s life filled the book – his remarriage, his adopted step-daughter (who provided a lot of commentary through the book), the racehorse Paul bought for him, his various homes, etc. This may be intentional and not an implication of coldness on Paul’s part.

His marriage and divorce from Heather Mills is treated fairly – the author quotes directly from the court documents. Being a book on Paul – and by now the reader can tell where the author’s sympathies lie – Heather comes out of these Chapters as the villain of the story. Here we see a more “tell-all” style than anywhere else in the book by the author including Mills’ quotes about Paul and his children and their retorts.

Paul’s flings and affairs are spoken of frequently during the Beatle years. But after marrying Linda, though, there is no infidelity! None. Not even Heather Mills accuses him of fooling around with other women. For Paul to so strongly adhere to his marriage vows is very much in his character.

Here we read about Macca – the nickname the author uses to describe Paul in his darker moments: his few bouts with public intoxication, his row with a photographer and a fan, his firing employees that were with him for over a decade.

The book ends with Paul’s happier third marriage to Nancy Shevell, a friend of his and Linda’s for many years.

 

In the last chapters Norman gushes over Paul’s children. The reader is unsure if the concern for Heather and James is Paul’s or the author’s. Regardless, we are relieved to learn of their success.

By the way, James’ album Me is good stuff!

Likewise, the readers are also left unsure if the proud boasting of Mary’s and, especially, Stella’s successful careers outside of their famous parents’ shadows are Paul’s or the author’s. (Heather and James also have successful careers, but the author intimates their success came with more struggles).

That’s what good writing does.

Beatrice is not ignored, but is barely mentioned, but that is because she (and the grandchildren) is not yet an adult and is none of our business.

 

The book shows us Paul’s generosity as a lovable public figure and his coldness as a businessman.  He becomes the most irate when something opens a crack in his carefully and sternly-controlled public image or when his equally-protected family privacy is revealed even slightly (the very public divorce with Heather Mills certainly revealed cracks he would rather we not see).

 

An excellent book. After the introduction, I feared the book would be a simple recitation of Paul’s deeds and accomplishments.

Although not a reference book, it DOES list in detail the events in Paul’s life with an eye to the man who lost his mother at 14 while striving to find and maintain his lost family while living in the glass bubble of Beatlemania and its subsequent fame, from the the Ashers to the Eastmans.

 

I listened to the audio CD performed by Johnathan Keeble. It was an excellent series of CDs. The narrator performed the voices instead of doing a strict read-through, but it enhanced the story rather than distracted (as such performances can do). His imitation of Paul was quite good (the other Beatles not so much). Keeble does a wonderful northern/scouse accent. As is usual with narrators that perform a book rather than just READ it, his female impersonations can be distracting with two exceptions. His near-whisper of speaking as Linda captured her shyness and likeability. His Heather Mills was crass and pointed.

 

Paul McCartney the Life is a long read but worth it. Put it on your shelf with the best of the Beatle-related books. It’s a keeper. One hopes that when … the end … finally comes Norman will be around to give a final update.

Many years from now.

***

Paul McCartney the Life by Philip Norman, 978016327961, 818 pages by Little, Brown & Company, published May 3, 2016.

 

Original material copyright 2016 Michael Curry

 

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

 

 

Paul McCartney the life, a review (part one)

Paul McCartney, the Life

By Phillip Norman

A review, part one

The author’s name should be familiar to hardcore Beatle fans or Beatle historians.

He is the author of Shout, still a definitive biography of the group. It went to press shortly before John Lennon’s murder in 1980 and was published soon thereafter. The book was a smash hit – it would have sold well despite the timing of its release; it was a good book – and was timely bolstered by the author’s seeming assertion that the group was John Lennon plus three session men. McCartney bristled.

The Lennon lovefest continued with the author’s John Lennon, the Life; again relegating McCartney to that of a lucky hanger-on.

When the author was hired to write Paul McCartney, the Life, the author expected no cooperation from the Macca machine. But to his surprise, he received, if not Paul’s blessing, at least an affirmative nod. The author was given permission to speak to family, current and former employees and fellow musicians.

(Note I left out the word “friends”. Although the author neither says not intimates the fact, after reading the book it seems Paul has no friends other than his very tight-knit family spanning four generations. There’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself to yourself, but it is telling to his personality that there is no Eric Clapton to his George Harrison or no Harry Nilsson to his John Lennon. He had Linda, his kids, his brother, and his dad, aunts, uncles and Ringo – who counts as a brother. That’s all he needs.)

Anyone who called Paul (or his office) to verify Norman’s claim was told, “It’s up to you, but Paul doesn’t mind if you speak to him.”

There are only archival (by that I mean previously published) interviews with Paul, his children, his wives and Ringo. Otherwise the author interviewed nearly everyone else!

Norman explains this in the long introduction; along with his first meeting with Paul when he (Norman) was a reporter in the 1960s. He got to hold Paul’s Hoffner violin bass (Paul tossed it to him – the author describes his mortal fear of dropping it). The author admitted his bias toward Lennon and promised to write a fair book on Paul.

He succeeds.

Paul does not have many demons (unlike Lennon), but he does have his warts. These are shown in the book, but not in a tabloid way. They are explained and in the end the reader is left feeling sympathetic.

 

Paul comes off as a workaholic musician who autocratically keeps a tight rein on his music and image. The only other part of his life that matters is family – where he is a doting husband, father, grandfather, son, brother and nephew.

Paul McCartney the Life is as thick as a cinder block and could stop a bullet. Very little of Paul’s life is left out. Being able to surprise hard-core Beatles fans is a good trick in these later years – but you’ll find SOMETHING you did not know within its covers.

Norman explains how Paul’s love of family was rooted from the beginning with his kind father and mother. His mother’s death was a touching early moment and referred to throughout the rest of the book/the rest of Paul’s life. It weighed on his soul as much as the death of Julia Lennon did to John’s, but not as publicly.

The author also details whence Paul’s love of music came. Not just rock and roll, but varying genres thanks to his father, Jim, who played in his own jazz band.

 

The Beatle years were given their respectful due and comprised the second quarter of the book. The only tabloid-y part of the book came from Paul’s love affairs during the years before Linda.

Much is made of Paul’s non-Beatle interests during the 1960s and emphasizes that he was the first to experiment with things usually attributed to John: Paul was the first to tinker with avant-garde music and film, collect art (he drew and painted, too). He was interested in the latest fashion trends and was the first of the Fabs to grow a moustache (but, always being image-conscious, until the Beatles were finished he NEVER had his hair in anything but variations of the Beatle-cut).

The author describes Paul’s lawsuit to break up the corporate stranglehold of the Business Beatles in grisly detail as well as his public feud with Lennon. The author postulates that if Paul’s kind song “Dear Friend” had appeared on the album “Ram” rather than “Wild Life” it would have saved both sides a lot of hard feelings. I agree.

He began the 1970s with songs and albums that gave the people what they wanted – Beatle-like pop. After a few mis-starts, he formed Wings, a group that were what he wanted the Beatles to become – a performing band.

Here the author begins going into material that most Beatle biographies only gloss over – the story of Wings. He details their gigs. Band members get brief biographies. The making and charting of albums and singles are detailed and reviewed.

He also details the rapprochement with his “estranged fiancé” John.

Paul’s time in a Japanese jail for possession of marijuana is detailed (Norman should be complimented for writing of Paul’s copious history with the weed. His – and Linda and other – drug use is detailed but told in complete neutrality and with no judgment).

The Japan arrest marked the end of Wings (the other band members were forced to leave the country and Paul, at the time, saw that as a betrayal), the end of touring for many years, the end of arena-rocker Paul of the 1970s. Later that year came another ending.

 

My review continues next time.

 

Paul McCartney the Life by Philip Norman, 978016327961, 818 pages by Little, Brown & Company, published May 3, 2016.

 

Original material copyright 2016 Michael Curry

Michael Curry is the author of the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” available here on Amazon Kindle.

What Might Have Been: the CW’s Constantine

A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup

? … Maybe someday … Constantine

 

From Wikipedia (as I said before, if they are going to do the work FOR me …):

CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON the ONLY (so far)

John Constantine, a demon hunter and dabbling master of the occult, must struggle with his past sins while protecting the innocent from the converging supernatural threats that constantly break through to our world due to the “Rising Darkness”. Balancing his actions upon the line of good and evil, Constantine uses his skills and a supernatural scry map to journey across the nation to send these terrors back to their own world, all for the hope of redeeming his soul from eternal torment.

***

            Rumors of Constantine becoming the fifth DC-CW show were just that – and became wishful thinking among fans of the show.

Like me.

Only the most zombie-like of Marvel zombies will refuse to admit that DC’s horror comics were better than Marvel’s horror comics; even well into the 1990s when Constantine the comic book was in full vigor. (“What about DC’s Wasteland?” “Shut up.”)

Even in their super-hero line, horror would rear its misshapen head with characters like the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre and Dr. Fate – two of those three had fun Easter egg references in Constantine’s run. The show even had the Justice League’s baddie Felix Faust in an episode!

Constantine would have been a repository of all things supernatural in CW’s superhero universe.

Too bad the show was doomed from the start.

 

It had the usual Berlanti Production touches: the main character had a team of followers behind him helping with that episode’s problems. Oh sure after the pilot episode they dumped his first female companion for another without a word, but that happens with pilots. I guess.

Chas was to John Constantine what Diggle is to Arrow – muscle when needed. Like Diggle, he is knowledgeable about the goings-on of the show. He has helped Constantine in the time before the show and does not need an explanation about what kind of baddie he is fighting. He has his own arcane powers that are revealed slowly during the show. Charles Halford plays him wonderfully.

The audience conduit is played by Angelica Celaya as Zed. John and Chas explain that week’s Big Bad to us through her. Her arcane powers of divination help with necessary shortcuts in the show (otherwise how would Constantine know about evil doings in New Orleans?). She is also a great actress playing a great character.

I liked the underused Harold Perrineau as Manny – an angel ally of Constantine but still a pain in the main character’s backside. Although he seemed to be on Constantine’s side, he also seemed to have a different agenda. Constantine didn’t trust him. I didn’t either… He would have played a larger role in the series had it continued (as the final aired episode clearly showed).

 

There was a Big Bad who was (presumably) going to duke it out with our hero in the season finale. Unlike the other Berlanti shows, we never knew who the Big Bad was until late into the season. In fact, the main villain was revealed in the last broadcast show – ending in a bit of a cliff-hanger. It is likely we will never see it resolved.

And mcguffins abounded in the show – there was always a talisman or other thingumabob that Constantine and his crew discovered that would defeat the bad guy (be it human or demon) after the initial failed confrontation. But here it worked. Using a magical devise to defeat the Big Bad makes sense in this supernatural setting…

Perhaps the horror element made us forget this by-now over-used CW super-hero plot device.

 

The original character was based on the musician Sting, but actor Matt Ryan made the character his own. He played Constantine with an exhausted charm. You want to have a drink with him – then run away as fast as you can!

He seemed tired and confused (that is, drunk) most of the time. With his trench coat, he was something of a horror-themed Columbo with a northern British accent. But like Columbo, he always knew what he was facing and (sometimes) knew what he was doing. True, at times it didn’t work …

And intended or not, the thought of Kolchak always bubbled below the surface…

 

One highlight episode was “The Devil’s Vinyl” featuring a satanic LP. The show introduces sometimes ally/sometimes villain Papa Midnite.

 

Perhaps the character will pop up again in the other DC-CW shows as he did in his wonderful appearance in a fourth-season Arrow episode, when Flash, Supergirl or Arrow (again) needs some supernatural help.

constantine_2

I would hate to see them waste an excellent character played by an excellent actor.

All of the episodes are available on CW-Seed. Find them and watch them.

And Happy Halloween!

download

Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry

 

Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).

 

DC Legends of Tomorrow, a primer

A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup

Thursday: Legends of Tomorrow

From Wikipedia (as I said before, if they are going to do the work FOR me …):

CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON ONE

After the murder of his family by immortal dictator Vandal Savage, time master Rip Hunter travels back in time to the present day where he brings together a team of heroes and villains (Atom, White Canary, Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave) in an attempt to prevent Savage from destroying the world. However, they are opposed by the Time Masters, an organization from the future dedicated to protect and manipulate the timeline as they see fit and a body to which Hunter had sworn allegiance. During their early adventures, they are hunted by the Time Master’s agent Chronos.

***

            Lordie do people dislike this show. Go to IMDB and read some of the reviews.

Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s not THAT bad.

Isn’t it?

I liked the show! I look forward to watching it and am happy when I see it on my Tivo every Friday morning.

But after writing this review I realized there were parts – big parts – that I didn’t like.

In the end I decided the show was a mixed bag.

 

The premise itself is part of the problem: it’s the Gilligan’s Island syndrome. Once they defeat Vandal Savage, the show is over! SPOILER: The last episode proves this out. The gang breaks up and only some of them come back!

 

The show is not as dark as Arrow (despite its premise) and has light moments that rival Flash. The time-travelling premise should be liberating, but instead it seems limiting.

We KNOW they won’t finally confront Savage until the season finale, so the battles with him are incidental from the very beginning.

 

The show provides us with Easter eggs harkening to their DC comics’ roots…

Jonah Hex’s appearance was a highlight.

Finding Per Degaton as a youth made for some interesting moral debates: would you kill Hitler-as-a-child if you could?

Characters from other DC-CW shows pop up; notably Quentin Lance. We spy alternate futures including Diggle’s son taking up the Green Arrow mantel. They are careful in the future – not wanting to spoil anything. But they are also careful in the past when they did not have to be.

Professor Stein, Captain Cold and even Rip Hunter meeting their younger selves provided some good moments, but even I was confused when they snatched some team members as newborns. That plot-thread was quickly forgotten and wrapped up on the next show before the opening credits.

I found the multi-part arc in the 1950s especially disappointing. Racial hatred was only just touched upon. Maybe it was because the story was in Washington state. Jax’s flirtation and dating a white girl created some trouble with goons, but it was no worse than were he beat up by a jealous boyfriend rather than bigots.

Meanwhile, Ray Palmer and Kendra Saunders play a mixed race couple who move into the neighborhood with only the slightest double-takes from the neighbors. Maybe Washingtonians were more progressive in the late 1950s than I thought.

They should have taken a chance and placed the story arc in Old Miss. But I don’t think CW wanted to do that.

 

One complaint that I had about the show from the beginning was the dialogue. Sometimes the characters quipped without having anything to say. Did the actors have to have an equal number of lines? Did the writers once in a while say, “Mick hasn’t spoken for a while…”

I noticed one scene where the camera panned left to right. As the camera passed, each character had a line. People don’t speak in the order in which they are standing.

 

***

            So what DID I like about it?

The characters!

Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell stole every scene as Captain Cold and Heat Wave (although they were mostly called by their civilian names Leonard Snark and Mick Rory). The duo was my favorite part of the show, despite my initial fear that they would be its weakest link (villains? They couldn’t come up with two other heroes?)! The occasional “I like this guy,” from Rory always made me giggle.

Best line of the show was Rory’s: “I need you to burn something.” “About time…”

Snark’s slow turn from bad guy to almost-good guy was the best part of the show. “Why do you care about any of them?” Rory would ask. “I don’t, but they’re on my team, and you watch out for your team.”

Nice.

So was Rory’s very very slowly developing friendship with Ray Palmer.

Speaking of him, Brandon Routh still channels his inner Christopher Reeve. He was excellent as Superman and very good as the Atom. I just don’t think he is given much to work with here. His eccentricity in Arrow became flightiness here.

His romance with Kendra Saunders was not very convincing. Plus the constant reminder that she is meant only for Carter Hall wears thin.

Saunders meeting her previous incarnation in the Old West was a fun few minutes, though.

Both characters were more interesting and better done in Flash and Arrow.

Poor Sarah Lance (the White Canary), despite being played excellently by Caity Lotz, seems bored. The few times the show focuses on her are excellent: her falling for a nurse in the 1950s and rebuffing Snart’s hesitant advances. Maybe the writers weren’t sure what to do with her and her powers. She kicks butt, true, but what can she do against a robot as tall as a skyscraper? Hopefully she will be back on Arrow soon providing some grist for that mill should Legends fail to keep up good ratings.

I like Victor Garber as Professor Martin Stein; always pontificating and irritating his team while providing the viewer exposition. He talks down to the team to provide exposition for the viewer. His “partner” is Franz Dramah as Jax. Their friendship was only explored occasionally and we need more of it.

Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter was also wonderful. His Ahab-like need for vengeance wore pretty thin, though. Savage killed his wife and son! Yes, we know, we were told in the opening credits and two or three times every show – even shows that don’t really feature Savage.

I wish Casper Crump were given more to do as Vandal Savage than preen and smirk. His final battles in the season finale were very good, though.

***

            The show was an exemplary example of Berlanti Productions #1 rule of a Big Bad who fights the heroes throughout the season culminating in the season finale.

But fortunately the nature of the show made it nearly impossible for Rule #2: bad guy (or gal) appears, heroes fight him or her and gets whipped. Team finds flaw and makes a macguffin to defeat bad guy. Arrow does it, Flash does it, even Supergirl. Legends? Not so much.

***

            It’s not a perfect show, but it is fun to watch, and that’s the whole point isn’t it?

***

So what’s next for our legends? It looks from the previews that the show is entering into Doctor Who territory – going to different times and meeting the famous and infamous.

They will be repairing the timeline.

They will also be meeting more heroes (and villains) from the DC roster: Vixen will join as will Steel. They meet the Justice Society of America.

And fight the Legion of Doom! Malcolm Merlin, Damien Darhk, Captain Cold (what!?) and the Reverse Flash gather together to try to defeat our heroes.

I’ll be there. Will you?

 

 

Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry

 

Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).

 

A review of the CW’s Arrow (part two)

A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup

Wednesday: Arrow

Part Two

Read Part One here

Arrow the television show and Arrow the character are the Batman of their CW Universe: the flagship, the one the other shows and characters look to for inspiration, guidance and training (willingly and unwillingly for both parties).

Hell of a thing to say for a big Superman fan like me, eh? Like it or not, up until 25 or so years ago I would have said that Superman was the iconic flagship, and would have been correct; but the apparent dislike of the Man of Steel by the editors and writers at DC since have lowered his esteem – at one point making him as laughable as Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter were. But that is a whole other blog rant.

When Flash faced his Big Bad Season-Ending supervillain on his own show, the Big Bad taunted him for coming alone. “Who said I was alone?” Flash said. Arrow jumped from the background to stand beside his friend and protégé.

Chills. This is going to be a cool fight! (It didn’t disappoint!)

 

Arrow/Green Arrow was the perfect DC hero for a television drama: a little-known character (but popular in the comic book world) with a simple origin and not a lot of background to burden a program developer.

Millionaire playboy trapped on an island where he learned to shoot arrows. In the early 1970s the character loses his fortune and becomes a social, as well as a crime, crusader.

Quite likely because of the movie franchise, the Batman character was unavailable. In retrospect, it was a good move to go with Green Arrow. Giving Batman the Berlanti treatment would have been fun to watch, but it would not have worked as well.

Let’s face it; Batman’s origins and character are too firmly entrenched. The show would be too burdened by its past (although Gotham – now in its third season – does a great job in re-imagining that past; and is very good in its way, that take on the Caped Crusader would NOT fit in with the DC-CW stable).

 

Being in its fifth season, Arrow shows cracks that are not yet visible in Flash, let alone the sophomore Supergirl or Legends. The cracks are particularly apparent while binge-watching.

The formula (which can quickly become formulaic) for the DC-CW shows started in Arrow:

  1. The uber-baddie that lurks throughout the season culminating in a season-finale final battle. Granted the show does it well: it’s not one long storyline with zero progression {kaff-last-season’s-Agents-of-Shield-kaff}. Other villains show up during the season – some you think MIGHT be the season-finale uber-villain. A viewer can go several weeks without hearing the Big Bad mentioned. This is good.

The show sometimes even makes fun of this: at one point at the Season Three finale, Quentin Lance said (I paraphrase), “a super-villain is threatening to destroy all of Star City? It must be May!” In my opinion that line should proudly stand alongside “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” and “I saw it in the window and I couldn’t resist it” in TV history.

  1. The mcguffin syndrome that occasionally plagues Flash began with Arrow: bad guy shows himself. Arrow fights bad guy and gets whipped. Arrow’s team finds a flaw and creates a special Arrow to beat bad guy. In between we have scenes advancing the various sub-plots.
  2. The sub-plots: Characters die. They come back. Characters hate Arrow for various reasons (most often of the “I can never trust you again” type) but also come back into “Team Arrow”. (I cringe when I hear or read that term). Quentin Lance seems to hate Arrow in odd-numbered seasons and be his ally in even-numbered seasons.

 

That being said, I LOVE the show! It’s full of comic book Easter eggs (although not as much as Flash) to keep this old viewer happy.

Although even that is not without its faults. Introducing characters like Roy Harper and calling Arrow’s sister by her nickname Speedy pretty much give away their inevitable roles in the show. Their introduction and use of Black Canary was a nice surprise twist, though.

 

By not being tied to a popular back story ala Superman, Batman or Spider-Man, the creators of Arrow can introduce “new” characters: we meet his mother, his father, his sister (I love Willa Holland as Thea Queen – the character grows from self-centered rich girl to a very three-dimensional woman!), Diggle and of course Felicity.

Dave Ramsey as Diggle provides the muscle and back-up when needed and is a great character.

And of course how could I not love she-geek Felicity Smoak played by Emily Bett Rickards?

 

The villains are a mixed breed of one or two-shot baddies to the Big Bad that is finally fought in the season finale. The Big Bads are drawn from DC comics. When John Barrowman was introduced as Malcolm Merlin, we old-time readers knew he was up to no good. Same with Slade Wilson, Brother Blood and Damien Darhk (played by Neal McDonough, who also played Dum Dum in Captain America: The First Avenger movie).

The most surprising Big Bad was Batman villain Ra’s Al Ghul, confirming Arrow’s status as this world’s Batman. Excellently played by Matt Nable; he steals every scene.

For the new season the Big Bad is modern-era villain Prometheus. In the comics he fought the Justice League to a standstill and mutilated Red Arrow/Arsenal.

Uh-oh … once again being a comic book reader may have spoiled part of a future storyline…

 

I’m saving Stephen Arnell for last. The actor who plays Arrow excels at the role even five seasons in – he is serious, but not too Batman-like (read sociopathic) level. Sometimes he even smiles.

 

Oh and by the way, Arrow had Amanda Waller & the Suicide Squad before it was cool. Find those episodes.

 

We likely only have another two or three seasons of Arrow left. Enjoy them.

 

 

 

Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry

 

Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).