January 22, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Legends of Tomorrow”


LEGENDS OF TOMORROW:  Thursday 8PM on CW – In the Queue

Even with a half-season and the resources of two other series to prepare the way, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW finally arrived on CW heavy with exposition.  It was such a premise pilot, in fact, that the show’s ability to stand on its own feet is still uncertain.

Almost all the regular characters had already been introduced on Arrow or The Flash:  intermittently dead and sometime assassin Sara Lance (Caity Lotz); Firestorm, a superhero (or “meta-human”) formed by the bonding of physicist Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and former athlete Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh); Ray Palmer AKA The Atom (Brandon Rouse), with his Iron Man-like super-suit and Ant Man-like powers; ever-reincarnated Egyptian lovers Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) and Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel), who take to the skies as Hawkgirl and Hawkman; and thieves Leonard Snert (Wentworth Miller) and Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell), usually equipped as Captain Cold and Heat Wave.  Even the show’s archvillain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) has been seen before.

The mythology that combines them owes something to Doctor Who and Quantum Leap, as Time Master circa 2166 Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) gathers all the heroes together as a sort of task force to stop the immortal Savage before he can take over the Earth in 150 years, a plan that’s very vague but will definitely require them to bounce throughout time.  Nor do the influences stop there:  the title turns out to be semi-ironic, since far from the legends of the future that Hunter promised they’d be, our heroes were all cast-offs, fated to lives as mundane as any superheroes’ could be, but together they might form a greater force, a la Guardians of the Galaxy.

The pilot, which had almost as many writers as stars (co-creators Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg–all members in good standing of Berlanti’s DC Comics brigade–and Phil Klemmer of CW’s The Tomorrow People), took almost all its hour just to get this straight, give or take a battle with a futuristic bounty hunter (cue the Boba Fett joke) and a B story about the Hawks meeting the aging son of one of their previous existences.  Although these characters were fairly engaging when they were interacting with the Flash and Arrow gangs, it’s far from clear how they’re going to mix together as a group, or even if the series can handle such a large ensemble, currently without any particular focal point, and who have such different styles as Garber’s likably pompous professor and Miller’s smirky outlaw.

There should at least be a fair amount of diversion along the way.  Although the interior of Hunter’s time-traveling ship looked like the soundstage set it was, DC/Warners spent plenty on CG for the pilot, and director Glen Hunter kept it all at a swift pace.  Since the actors are already experienced in playing these parts, they were comfortable in their roles, and it was particularly pleasing to see Lotz restored from the morose depths her character had sunken into on Arrow.

Both The Flash and Arrow have improved over time (even the weaker Supergirl, another Berlanti/DC venture, is less plastic than it was in the fall), and Legends certainly merits a chance to do likewise.  If anything, with so many characters and the entirety of past and future history to roam around in, the series has more possibilities than it’s likely to be able to fill.  The question will be whether it can harness all its elements into a satisfying whole.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."