TV Review: Legends of Tomorrow, Season 1 (USA, 2016)

Given its status time-travelling superpowered team adventure, it feels safe to say Legends of Tomorrow is probably the most ambitious effort yet in the CW’s ever-growing lineup of superhero TV shows.

Set around the time-travelling Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), who snatches various DC heroes and villains out of the present to go on a sprawling and illegal mission to stop evil dictator Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) before he comes to power, Legends of Tomorrow is anything but subtle.

Legends ensemble cast places flash, flair and melodrama front and center of their performances but the writing is often frustratingly inconsistent as a result. Brandon Rough and Wentworth Miller play things way too campy while Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) stay way too serious for their own good.

Arrow-alum Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) and ex-Flash characters Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell), Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh) are a little more well-grounded but, unfortunately, they rarely escape the tropes they play with.

If anything, Rip Hunter is the most disappointing part of the cast. Despite the echoes (both thematic and literal) of Doctor Who here, the series never really does much with its central time-traveller outside of defining him as willing to sacrifice everything for revenge.

The fantastical premise of Legends of Tomorrow has a lot of storytelling potential attached to it but you’ve likely seen better versions of the stories told here elsewhere. The show shuffles up the cast in some fun and unexpected ways to be sure, but the writing never really goes far enough to take advantage of it and hit the same rhythm that other (better) ensemble shows and comic books can.

Of all of CW’s superpowers efforts thus far, Legends of Tomorrow relies the most on special effects and the results can be pretty mixed. The sets and effects never looks great but sometimes they land somewhere just above “good-enough” than outright terrible. Sometimes the show gets close the slick sci-fi serial it wants to be, other times it feel like the cheapest superhero series on television – especially during the action sequences. Similarly, the cinematography, direction and writing also fall into this same pattern of inconsistency.

By design, Legends of Tomorrow is the most ambitious comic book series that DC and the CW have ever done. However, in execution, it’s probably the laziest. Despite the diverse cast, characters quickly fall into some pretty tired tropes and the show struggles to find an identity of its own.

It’s underwhelming, but it’s a start.

Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

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