Review: Legends of Tomorrow, Pilot (pt. 1)

Progressive/nerd/parent review

Nightstick feminism?

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot, Part 1”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3/3

Shukla Score: 2.5/3

Russo Score: 3/3

Kittens: 😺😺😺😺/5

This show has, as one of its core characters, a bisexual vigilante named White Canary/Sara Lance (played by Caity Lotz, pictured above). She identified herself as being attracted to women (that’s the first part of the Russo test), she is not predominately defined by her sexuality (that’s part 2), and as a core character she obviously matters (that’s part 3). It is really striking that it is, in a sense, so easy to ace the Russo test – just have an LGBTQ character of any kind that is not a caricature – and yet this is the first episode of any nerd show I have reviewed that scored 3/3 (I will say that there have been a few Arrow episodes earlier this season, before I was doing reviews, that would have garnered greater-than-zero Russo scores as well). The show also had a scene where two named persons of color discussed something other than race, but they were surrounded by white people and earlier in the episode an old white man drugged and kidnapped a young black man, which is a bit dicey, so I docked a half point. The episode also showed two named women together, alone, discussing something other than men. One caveat: both the Shukla score and the Bechdel-Wallace score were achieved with the help of characters that are not series regulars, so I am skeptical that these scores will be maintained, but still hopeful. I gave the show four out of five kittens, because it would have been hard for the kitties to pull me away from the show, but not impossible because…

Low points: …showing one half of a two-part pilot is a bad move. This was basically an hour long exposition, at an almost breakneck pace, with no time for anyone to settle in. I am sorry, but eight people are not just going to wrap their heads around time travel, much less using it to defeat an immortal warlord, in the 48ish hours of their lives that the episode spans. The upside of this approach is that you get the whole team involved right at the beginning of the series (as opposed to bringing them in over the course of multiple episodes). The downside is that I couldn’t give less of a shit about any of these people – and I say this as someone who met them all on episodes of Arrow and/or The Flash. Folks not watching those shows will care even less about these folks than I do. That’s a weak footing from which to launch into an ensemble show. Also as nice as the diversity scores are, the cast is 9 people – two of whom are persons of color, two of whom are women, and one of whom is bisexual – but because of overlaps (one woman of color, one bisexual woman), the core cast is still 2/3rds straight white men. (The female-gendered AI that runs the ship does not count.)

Highlights: Personally, I enjoyed seeing Arthur Darvill, the actor who played Rory on Doctor Who -a really tiresome bore of a character – get to do something more interesting in this show as time master Rip Hunter. As for the show itself, the 1975 bar scene was a fun romp and definitely the highlight. Legends is clearly going to rely on the kitsch-out-of-water fun of time travel each week, and that is just fine with me.

Dad edits: I am a little uneasy watching this show with my son because it is too early to tell if it is going to be more like The Flash (cartoonish violence, few guns) or more like Arrow (realistic violence, lots of guns). I am betting it will be the former and we will go ahead and watch it, with some edits: The opening sequence, establishing how awful Vandall Savage is, show him murdering a mother and then her son. This is important setup both for the villain and one of the heroes, but no way I am showing that to my kid. We might also skip the later scene where the hero is grieving at the loss of his wife and son; I haven’t decided. I am going to let him watch the bar fight with me, because he should learn now that bars mostly suck. (Reminder: my kid is under six years of age, so if your kid is older some of this stuff might be okay. That said, I don’t even want to watch the little boy get blasted again, and I am considerably older than 6.)

Legends of Tomorrow airs on The CW on Thursdays at 8/7c


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