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DC's Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1

Warner Bros. // Unrated // August 23, 2016
List Price: $44.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted September 1, 2016 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

While movies based on DC Comics characters haven't been getting the critical or popular acclaim, in general, that was hoped, on the small screen they're really coming alive. Arrow is a big success and so is The Flash which is starting its third season in a little over a month. This super-hero universe gets fleshed out even more with the newest show DC's Legends of Tomorrow, an ensemble project that looks great on paper: a superhero group created largely of DC heroes that were first introduced in Arrow and The Flash played by actor who made their names on other popular TV shows (including Doctor Who and Prison Break), traveling through time and fighting an immortal tyrant. It sounds great! And while the visual style is good, this first season is marred by poor scripts and some average acting.

In the year 2166, the immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) manages to take over the entire world, and in the process he personally kills the wife and son of Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill - Doctor Who), a member of the Time Masters. This organization is charged with protecting the time line, and Captain Hunter has done that for the last 13 years with his time-ship the Waverider. Going in front of the Time Council, he petitions them to stop Savage before he comes to power, which they naturally reject.

Not one to take 'no' for an answer, Rip travels back in time to 2016 where he recruits a team to travel through time and kill the immortal Savage (quite a feat in itself). These aren't any group of ordinary people however, they all have special abilities. First is billionaire tech genius Ray Palmer aka The Atom (Brandon Routh - Superman Returns, Chuck) who has a flying supersuit that allows him to shrink to microscopic size and fire laser blasts... basically a combination of Iron Man and Ant Man. Sara Lance (Caity Lotz - Mad Men), the trained assassin from Arrow takes up a new identity as White Canary, and nuclear physicist Martin Stein (Victor Garber - Alias) and his partner automechanic Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh - Attack the Block, Edge of Tomorrow) can merge together to form Firestorm, a nuclear-powered fireball. There are a pair of rouges who are recruited too: Leonard Snart/Captain Cold who has a freezing ray and his partner in crime Mick Rory/Heat Wave who has a flame-gun (played by Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, the brothers from Prison Break). The final pair may be the most important to the mission: Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée) and Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel) also known as Hawkgirl and Hawkman, two people first born in ancient Egypt and who have been reincarnated constantly over the last 4000 years. Their powers were granted to them the night they first died, at the same time that Vandal Savage gained his immortality... and Kendra is the only one who has the ability to kill the eternal despot.

Once gathered together, the group heads off across time and space looking for Savage before he comes to power, something that's not easy as the man has spent many lifetimes hiding in the shadows. They travel back to the 1980's, the old west, the 1950's and even the future. Every time they get close however, he manages to slip through their grasp. Of course the Time Council is not sitting idly by while this happens. They've sent an assassin after the group: Chronos.

The show is filled with fun, super-hero adventure. There's at least one battle in every episode, and these are the highlights of the program. Firestorm is particularly appealing, the special effects are solid and they do a great job of recreating the comic book hero. Unfortunately, the writing leaves something to be desired. First off I realize that with time travel shows you have to be really willing to suspend your disbelief. Why don't they just kill Savage when he's a baby or go back in time 10 minutes after every defeat and warn their younger selves? Why not just recruit Superman, Batman, and the Flash and be done with it? Because the show would be over too quickly. I don't have a problem with that at all. It's the OTHER things I have trouble overlooking.

There are a myriad of plot holes and problems, and the more the series goes on the more they become apparent (there's a revelation at near the end of the season that makes the whole show nonsensical too). Every time they corner Savage, and they do several times, they decide not to kill him for some lame reason, especially since that's the whole point of their mission. Things seem to happen at random, plot wise, and there are so many deus ex machina plot twists that I lost track. My favorite one is when someone hides a message to the team in an object that's on the Waverider in the distant past. How do they discover this note that's been with Rip, undiscovered, for years? Someone happens to knock it over just when they need the information. WHAT?!!? Ray Palmer and Dr. Stein, who are from 2016 remember, become instant experts on time travel after about a day, so that they can come up with brilliant ideas to get them out of whatever scrape they happen to be in. "If we reverse the neutron flow to the quantum oscillator, that create a time flux and pull our fat out of the fire!" Oh yeah, and the auto mechanic of the group repairs their space/time ship whenever it breaks down. As he says, "an engine is an engine."

The plots have a very retro feel to them too, like they were left-over story ideas from a 1970's action show like the Six Million Dollar Man. There's a 'you can't change time it was meant to be' story, the 'believe in yourself and you can achieve anything' tale, and a story where one of the team teaches another one how to care. They even recycle plot points from earlier in the series too. At the beginning of the series they are being chased by the baddest of the bad, an assassin named Chronos. When he doesn't succeed, a trio of Hunters are put on their tale... the worst of the worst. These guys are so deadly that they have none of their humanity left! Wow! After that, they're chased by someone who is really bad. I mean so bad that bad guys cry what they hear of her name. She's much worse than those guys who came before (apparently). They really need to turn the hyperbole down a few notches.

Speaking of turning it down, some of the acting is really quite bad. Wentworth Miller stands out in this respect. He growls every line and has an annoying cadence where he pauses after every 3 or 4 words for effect, whether he needs to or not. He's trying to sound menacing, but it just reminds you that you're watching a show because no one talks like that. "I really think... that you should... have some more peas."

For all the negatives, there are some good aspects to the show. The sets are big and impressive and it has a very nice visual style. The Waverider sets look huge and they're populated with cute little shout-out to comic fans. If you look carefully in Rip Hunter's office you'll spot a wanted poster for Jonah Hex and the helmet from the golden age version of the Red Tornado. The action scenes are generally fun too.

The Blu-rays:


The 1.78:1 1080p image looks good, as one would expect for a show that was recently broadcast. The colors are nice and the level of detail is excellent. Nothing to complain about here.


The show comes with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track that is also decent. The frequent fight scenes give the subwoofer a decent workout and the audio moves around the room nicely. A very good sounding TV show.


There are some nice extras included too, spread across the two discs. First off is the 2015 Comic-Con panel where host Geoff Johns talks with the cast about the show for the better part of 20 minutes. There's also a gag reel that's okay, a nine-minute tour of the Waverider set, a look behind the scenes at one of the best shows in the season, The Magnificent Eight, and a look at how they created the different time periods. These were nice, but a little on the superficial side.

Final Thoughts:

While I don't regret watching this season, and I'll probably tune in for next season since the teaser at the very end has piqued my interest, the show has some problems. The tired scripts (and pretty rotten dialog) really pull this show down a lot. Hopefully it'll solve those problems in season two, but for this one, I'd say you're best off renting it.

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