“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season 1 – An Amazing Adventure With Consequences

Legends of Tomorrow

The first season of “Legends of Tomorrow” is my favorite show to come out of the DC Universe on the CW. This show “Guardians of the Galaxy,” meets “Doctor Who” with a bit of “Firefly” thrown in for good measure. This is a story of outcasts and facing the past and the future, and from it realizing there is no going back and you can’t change some things…even with time travel.

The show was created by Greg Berltani, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, Phil Klemmer, Sarah Schechter and Chris Fedak. Phil Klemmer was the showrunner for this season though.

The story involves Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) getting a team of misfits together to travel through time to stop Vandal Savage from killing his wife and son. They must not only deal with Savage’s forces but also the Time Masters (The organization Hunter was a part of) who oppose Hunter’s plan.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is fantastic! There is time travel, a war over time and space, alien technology and flawed heroes…this is a world I care about and can’t wait to spend more time in.

Time Travel – Time travel is handled really well in this. There laws of it have it so that Time can be shaped but takes a while to set, so there are time limits to what you can change and what that change can be…and eventually it can get to the point where what you does doesn’t matter because the event is set in stone. This sort of time travel doesn’t allow for retcons and it all the more powerful for it.

The Soundtrack – Blake Neely really owns this series soundtrack, just like the rest of the CW DC shows. He captures the drama, adventure and stakes so well and it wouldn’t be the same without his score.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and the best this show has looked and is better looking than “The Flash” Season 2, which looked great. David Geddens and Mahlon Todd Williams did a good job.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of this series and really make the adventure work. There are some cons in regards to some of the writing and drama that I’ll get into below, but it is at least consistently good even with some ham fisted moments of drama.

Vandal Savage – Casper Crump is great in this role as he plays the immortal Vandal Savage who is playing the long game for control and power. He’s a great villain and wins most of the fights he gets in. No matter how he is beat in the individual episodes he is able to use it in service of the long game. This makes his defeat by Hawkgirl at the end and the Legends all that more rewarding. He was a villain who really took the whole season to beat, and it was believable. He ends up having to be killed 3 times in 3 different time periods by the Team with the Hawk Team dealing with the final weapon that can kill him.

The Legends of Tomorrow – The Legends are the strongest part of this show, though White Canary is the weakest of the group as far as character and motivations…but all of them work. They are flawed and it feeds their character choices and motivations.

Kendra Saunders / Shay-Ara / Hawkgirl – Hawkgirl is the character who doesn’t want to be the hero and is pretty passive through a lot of the series but gains power and agency through the course of the film. She’s the only one who can defeat Savage due to the curse from the meteors and because of this she has the most working against her. Her arc is finding strength within herself and in the end is the hero saves them all. Ciara Renee does alright in the role.

Chris Carter / Hawkman – Hawkman like Hawkgirl is alright. He doesn’t have as much of an arc in this and is mostly a tool being used against or for the Team. He is all about destiny and is the one most certain in his roles through time. He does need Hawkgirl to save him at the end which is a role reversal from past stories they’ve had together in this series.

Jefferson Jackson / Firestorm – Jefferson’s arc is finding confidence in himself as Stein is the professor who is older and tries to dominate, throwing Jefferson into the Legends against his will. In the end Jefferson saves the day many times though and save Stein when Stein is dying.

Martin Stein / Firestorm – Stein is the mentor role in this and helps Rip and Jefferson through their pain they are going through. He is the closest thing to a father figure for all the characters and Victor Garber lends so much empathy to this role. I’m glad he survived this season.

Ray Palmer / Atom – Atom is the Superman of this series (which works considering Brandon Routh played Superman in “Superman Returns” it works perfectly! He is the character who has anxiety in regards to worth but is the positive and noble one. He’s the one real hero when the story has started and joins because he wants to make more of a difference.

Gideon – Gideon is the A.I. and she is awesome! She makes fun of the characters and reveals uncomfortable truths creating funny scenes and has agency! She is the one who stops Rip from flying them into the sun to save the world and to find another way. She is one of my favorite characters on the snow.

Mick Rory / Heatwave / Chronos – Dominic Purcell was unmemorable when he was introduced in the first season of “The Flash,” but in this we get to see just how much range he has! Mick Rory is one of the best characters on the show as he is a killer who develops nobility and even manages to help his younger self heal. The Time Masters also use him as Mercenary when the team leaves him after he betrays them and he becomes Chronos, one of the best mini-bosses in the series. After the team helps him find himself again and get past the Time Master conditioning he is ready to sacrifice his life for the team until his friend and partner Snart saves his life and sacrifices himself in his place.

Leonard Snart / Captain Cold – Wentworth Miller became one of the best parts of “The Flash” and he is easily one of the best parts of this show. In this we see the code he lives by and his internal nobility that has grown through “Flash” and ends with him saving the day on this show. He ends up being someone who helps Heatwave find his humanity and the others who have faced trauma. What an awesome character, his death actually mattered too as he stopped the Time Masters who were controlling all of their destiny’s.

Rip Hunter – Arthur Darvill is Rip Hunter, a Time Master who goes rogue to save his family…he’s basically the Doctor in “Doctor Who,” and it works! He is awesome in this role and his arc is dealing with the death of his wife and son and learning to trust and depend on others as whenever he goes rogue he gets into trouble. In the end he finds the team after he gets to say good-bye to his family and Gideon reminds him that she and him both want to live.

The Ending – The Ending is awesome! Captain Cold dies for the team to stop the Time Masters and give the team agency back from the Time Masters, the Team stops and destroys Randal Savage all together, they all become heroes and the survivors band together after the Hawk Team leaves and a man from the future sent by Rory warns them not to enter their ship, showing that their story isn’t over yet. Also the Thanagarians are coming (the ones who gave Savage, Hawkgirl and Hawkman their power) are coming and they destroy everything which is why the Time Masters were working with Savage to unite the world to prevent that, now it is up in the air and Earth is ripe for conquest.

Okay: Sara Lance / White Canary – Sara Lance was okay, for an ex-League of Assassins killer she isn’t all that hard in personality. She is the first bisexual character I have seen on the CW though which is pretty cool! She also helps Captain Cold with his trauma and she ends up facing her loss as her sister is killed when she off stopping Savage and dealing with that loss makes her realize she can’t stay in Star City.

Cons: Firestorm Drama – This drama is a bit hamfisted at times as we see Stein’s control issues and Jefferson’s anger issues rise to the surface again and again, even after they’ve been dealt with. Sometimes interesting things are done with it though, like when Stein merges with Jefferson’s Soviet Counterpart that Savage created and he realizes how good he has it.

Of Hawkgirl, Romance and Agency – Much of Hawkgirl’s drama is around her soul mateship with Carter and her attraction to other people. I hate a character being defined by who they love and that is a lot of her arc. I wish she’d broken away from this as the overall arc of the series was stopping the Time Masters who had been manipulating them and events all seasons and restoring choice to actions. She is a good character but I hate it when any character is defined by who they are attracted too. She’s a warrior Egyptian High Priestess who is 4000 years old, do more with that.

Even with the cons this was an overall better story and experience than both season of “The Flash.” This is largely due to the plot being stronger as the actions have consequences and even with time travel existing…some things can’t be changed so characters are forced to deal with loss and change and it lends power. These characters aren’t static and I care about the Legends and wanted to see them win against Savage. Savage also felt like a great villain too and he always felt like a threat, leaving this a story with consequences. I highly recommend this show and consider it the best to come out of the CW DC shows thus far.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

“Gravity Falls” Season 2 – A Brilliant Animated Show That Captures Mystery, Tension, Character and Adventure

dGravity Falls

    Alex Hirsch truly created a brilliant show with “Gravity Falls.” He described it as “The X-Files” meets “Twin Peaks” meets “The Simpsons.” From here he melded comedy, drama and mystery together perfectly as it is the characters who drive the story and who change after events happen in their lives. This season was extremely rich, even though the payoff wasn’t quite perfect…it still managed to be great.

      This is a show I will be returning back to review episodically at some point as well, it is just that great.

    The main plot of Season 2 is the mystery surrounding Grunkle Stan and the device he is building beneath the shack as the answers to this help us uncover the other mysteries surrounding Gravity Falls and the characters who live there.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Animation – The animation style is unique and flows and fits the mystery of Gravity Falls as well as the colorful nature of the characters who make up the town.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is beautiful, especially the theme song which Bill Cipher (the demon who brings about Weirdmageddon) changes. Brad Breek did a fantastic job!

The Mystery – The mystery of the Journals is a driving part of the plot as we see that Grunkle Stan has one of the journals and uses them to build a device to bring back his twin brother Ford who was trapped in another dimension. It’s a powerful mid-season finale and great payoff to the secrecy surrounding the town as all the mysteries come mostly back to the Brothers Pines.

Grunkle Stan Versus Zombies – At one point in the first episode of Season 2, Dipper summons a bunch of zombies and we see how amazing Stan is as he manages to take out most of them before performing karaoke with Dipper and Mabel which is what’s needed to cause the zombie heads to explode. It’s a great way to kick off the season. There are also two FBI agents investigating Gravity Falls too.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of “Gravity Falls” and it is how they are explored, which drives the plot. This season went in depth with all the main cast as well as a few side characters too who received some great development.

.GIFfany – .GIFfany is awesome! She is a sentient program from a Japanese dating sim who destroyed her creator and fixates on Soos. When Soos eventually ends the relationship she tries to kill him and his girlfriend but in the end is stopped. I really liked her obsessive character.

Gideon – Gideon goes through an arc over the course of the series as he is a villain serving Bill for much of it but finally comes around when he realizes that Mabel would be ashamed of what he’s doing and that her being trapped is not them being in a relationship. This leads to him with the prison escapees trying to take on Bill. Later on we see the prisoners have become his protectors.

Tyler Cutebiker – Cutebiker wins the election for Mayor of Gravity Falls and is the calmest head around. We see this in Tyler’s confrontation of Bill in Weirdmageddon to the acceptance speech. This character is a lot of fun.

Blubs and Durland – These are the police of Gravity Falls who love another and have a cute relationship as Durland isn’t bright at all but Blubs is always there for him and they make a good team in their ineptness. Them admitting their love for one another at the end is a sweet scene.

Blendin Blandin – The time traveler from last season is back and challenges Mabel and Dipper to a game of death. He loses and changes from it when he sees that they didn’t know they had ruined his life. He also comes to their aid with the Time Baby to take on Bill Cipher, though they don’t end up being successful.

Candy and Grenda – These two are wonderful! Grenda ends up with a prince because she of her blunt nature, Candy dates Dipper briefly and throughout it all they help Mabel get over her obsession with a boy band and a bunch of other things. These were great supporting characters.

Pacifica – Pacifica is a bully to Mabel and we soon learn why she is the way she is when we see her parents are high strung and emotionally abusive. She is the one to redeem her family when a past man the family wronged is turning everyone into wood and she must let the townspeople into the mansion. It’s awesome and though she puts on heirs later she shows that she has changed and isn’t the elitist she used to be. I really liked her character and hope they had done more with what came of her arc.

Mid-Season Finale – The portal opens and Mabel, Soos and Dipper have to trust Stan as we learn that his brother wrote the journals and was trapped in an alternate dimension this entire time…and that is why Stan has been so secretive as everything he’s done has been to get him back.

Old Man McGucket – McGucket was a tech guy who was brought in by Ford (Stan’s brother) who ends up going insane when he looks into the alternate dimension so he forms an organization to help the townspeople forget the weirdness of the Falls…this eventually leads to him going insane and becoming mad with power as it his his tech that’s been fought on multiple occasions. Luckily in the final he gets his shot at redemption.

Soos – Soos is the loveable nerd who is Stan’s trainee as he seeks to learn all he can to eventually run the Mystery Shack. His arc this season is finding confidence as we see him date and eventually get together with Melody (a fellow nerd) after he moves beyond the dating sim and when Weirdmaggedon hits hes the most prepared and becomes a hero to the populace, wandering and doing random acts of heroism before moving on. He is a great character.

Wendy – Wendy is a great character and in this we see her break up with Robbie (when he was mind controlling her with his music) and set down boundaries with Dipper as their friendship grows. She continues to be the trouble maker on the side and when Weirdmaggedon comes around she is the survivor as her family always sent her off to survival camp for Christmas, she is the epic hero of the new Gravity Falls besides Soos and she helps Dipper save Mabel and the town.

Ford – Ford is Stan’s twin brother who was always the genius and had the chance to get into an amazing university until Stan sabotaged it since he wanted to travel the world with him. This eventually leads to Ford exploring the paranormal leading him to Gravity Falls and a deal with Bill Cipher which costs him greatly, leading him to research on how to stop Bill. He’s never been a people person so his arc is resolving things with his brother and building a relationship with his niece and nephew. J.K. Simmons is great as his voice.

Mabel – Mabel’s arc this season is one of letting go, whether it was the boy band she was raising in her home as pets, or the paradise of never having to leave Gravity Falls (which she makes a deal with Bill Cipher over). She does eventually learn how to let go though and her grappling hook comes in handy in the final assault against Bill Cipher and his minions.

Dipper – Dipper’s arc is dealing with boundaries and masculinity. We see this when he dates for datings sake without any emotional investment and tries to be a player like Stan (both of them end up hurt) and in his sabotage of Wendy and Robbie’s relationship. In the end he keeps the friendships he built though and finds those are what matters most. He also realizes the danger of the diaries too when he summons zombies to show that Gravity Falls is supernatural to the FBI. He teams up with Wendy when Weirdmaggedon hits.

Grunkle Stan – Grunkle Stan is a liar, con man and theif whose entire life is a bunch of mess ups that is he is trying to atone for. From ruining Ford’s project, to the fight with Ford that lead to Ford falling into an alternate dimension and everything else. Stan’s arc is for redemption as we see his love for his Mabel and Dipper motivates him to be better and not a coward. He’s my favorite character in the show and I really like how they handle his story in the Finale.

Weirdmageddon

Weirdmageddon – Bill Cipher creates a hellscape of Weirdmaggedon (and gets a physical body) after he make a deal with Mabel to get what he needs to bring his dimension into ours. It’s a twisted hellscape where he turns the townspeople into stone to use as a chair and is populated by being who only want to cause destruction and mayhem. It really shows how powerful Bill is and what the town of Gravity Falls is up against to free themselves from the end. Weirdmaggedon is confined only to the falls though, thanks to smart thinking on Ford’s part and placing a barrier around the town. I really respect Hirsch for creating this nightmare in a kid’s show and changing the theme song to boot to go with it.

Bill Cipher – Bill is the big bad and eventually wins for a while thanks to Mabel making the deal. The demon loves chaos for chaos sake and we see just how powerful he is as he takes on the Resistance’s mech on his own and takes out Ford easily in the first few minutes of Weirdmaggedon. For this reason his defeat is rewarding as he won so thoroughly after Mabel made the deal.

The Resistance – The Resistance is great! There is a Unicorn, Gnomes, a Manitaur and quite a few others. When Mabel and Dipper join them they turn the Mystery Shack into a mech via Old Man McGucket (who finally uses his power for good) and take on Bill at his castle so they can free the town. They are amazing and I’d have watched an episode of just them and their interactions. The picture below is of the members of the Resistance.

Grunkle Stan’s Sacrifice – In the end Grunkle Stan saves the day and risks his mind for his kids as Ford knows how to drop the barrier around Gravity Falls so he and Stan switch places, tricking Bill so that the mind-eraser can be used on him. Thanks to Stan the day is saved and Weirdmaggedon ends.

Gravity Falls Resistance

The Ending – The ending deals with the aftermath as the mayor says that they won’t speak of the day again since no one understands what happened anyway and Ford, Mabel and Dipper deal with a Stan with no memory so share a scrapbook of the summer to help him remember everything again! After they have to say good-bye though and Dipper and Wendy swap hats to remember each other and she gives him a letter, Mabel keeps her pig Waddles and Ford and Stan go on an adventure together to fight monsters on the ocean as Stan gives Soos the Mystery Shack. It’s a sweet ending that captures the relationships of the show really well.

What I would have Changed – The fact that this happened over a summer limits the possiblities, and this is Disney and after how horrible Weirdmageddon was to the populace I get writing a happy ending. I wanted Grunkle Stan to have his memory lost though, Bill is a powerful demon and if it’d been permanent it would give the audience the chance to deal with it within their own lives in regards to family with Alzheimers. The fact that it was only a summer limited the chance to explore that though so it was still really good but I would have had it be permanent or have a character death (yeah, I’m horrible).

This is a show that is well worth your time. The animation is beautiful, there is a great antagonist, the characters change over time and the drama and mystery that drives the plot has great answers at the end. The tension never leaves the show because of the drama and mystery and in the end, the ending is touching and really shows that Dipper and Mabel have changed from their experiences at Gravity Falls, and that in the end, they always have next summer.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10 (Not going to give a perfect rating to since the Dipper dating episode didn’t really work and the “Dungeons and Dragons” episode was kind of weak). The FBI agents didn’t work within the show either and felt tacked on. Besides these things, this is a show I’ll be coming back to. It is easily one of the best animated shows ever made.

Gravity Falls Characters