Arrow: Lost Souls – Hereeeee’s The Atom & It’s Not You It’s Me (Review)

Felicity Smoak getting closer to the Atom

Finally, Ray Palmer gets his message to Felicity Smoak and here is the Atom we have all been waiting for. Add to Arrow’s unfortunate realization that according to Ms. Smoak, “it’s not you, it’s me…” this episode does two things very well.  It brings Palmer’s mini scientist back to  the fore and showcases the splendid talent of  Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity. 

It has to be said that, in terms of the new shows dealing with all things “DC,” Arrow has always been a little Darhk. (Sorry could not resist) with things taking a turn for the worse with the actual introduction of dastardly Damien.  Now we have Ray Palmer back from the dead, so to speak, and a great performance from Rickards as the new pin up for every geek and nerd in the world, Felicity Smoak.

The episode has a lot going for it, not least of which is Emily’s completely selling Felicity as the  “thinking man’s crumpet” of the year.  This gal Smoak has got it all, beauty, brains, mad organization skills and the ability to quip at a moments notice, what is not to love?  Add to these instantly addictive traits the fact  that you know this heroine would look equally good in a swimsuit as she would a business one, and you have a win/win situation.

After the last episode’s tepid introduction of Matt Ryan as Constantine, where the actor was sadly underused, this week saw things escalate in the verse. We have The Atom and we have Felicity Smoak, “I am CEO hear me roar,” hitting her stride with quips, comebacks and above all else, a true sense of self.

Her “It’s not you, it’s me” speech to Oliver, although in reality it was much, much more than that, allowed Rickards to kill this episode. Her admission that she allowed herself to become lost in Queen and, as she tells Oliver, “I am not that girl,” shows heretofore unseen depths to this character.

Felicity has always been good for a chuckle or two as she grows in confidence and her excitement at battling bad guys can only be matched by The Flash‘s Cisco (Played so adorably by Carlos Valdes). Although, Cisco has changed in terms of team dynamic with his new power…

There were some comedic moments in Arrow: Lost Souls. Oliver Queen secretly inviting mother Smoak to visit and for dinner was good for some mirth and allowed the talented Charlotte Ross to step in as Donna, Felicity’s blonde bombshell mom.

(Ross has come a long way since her Days of Our Lives (1987-1991) role as Eve Baron Donovan and she was instantly engaging as Felicity’s mother.)

In comparing Smoak to Cisco, it should also be pointed out that her enthusiasm has not waned, just as Ramon’s has not faltered, even with his new power. The two really are ethereal twins. She also likes naming things, although in her world it is the “code names” and not the villainous new meta-humans encountered by the good guys she likes to govern.

Despite being prepared for the emergence of Ray Palmer (Brandon Routhas The Atom, the sense of excitement at the discovery that Felicity’s old boss, and former squeeze, was alive and being held against his will by Damien Darhk  (Neal McDonough) was pretty noteworthy. Sidenote:  Seriously, how creepy was that shot of Darhk’s huge head peering down at Palmer in the box while he was speaking to Smoak? Shudders to the nth. 

A combination of great effects and great moments for this episode; where Rickards wins the geeky girl next door award for the ages and Brandon Routh proves he was the best choice to be The Atom, make this an epic episode to watch. (Question: Does anyone else think that if Tom Cruise ever lost his pipes that Routh could do voice over work for the Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation star? Answers in the comment section below…)

Arrow has moved away, just a nudge, from its innate “darhkness” (Sorry.) to allow Felicity to grow and evolve as a character. While Oliver may have been disturbed initially by Smoak’s “it’s not you it’s me” spiel, by the end Felicity has chosen him, as they bring out the inner bits when they are together.

This series airs Wednesdays on CW and continues to make the DC verse a great place to visit, even without any cross over action from The Flash. 

The Player Gets “Constantine-d” by NBC – WTF?

The Player - Season 1

NBC strikes again. Once more the network has killed a show before it really got started and just as the pace and interest level seemed to be increasing exponentially. The Player has been “Constantine-d” and shut down at nine episodes. Although Constantine was allowed to finish up 13 episodes instead of being halted mid-run. (It could be said that The Player has met the same fate as Joss Whedon’s Firefly which was also abruptly stopped mid-season).

Rather interestingly, the NBC series was on the up. Figures showed that, presumably due to what the series faced in terms of competition, DVR viewing was rising. Considering that the show was up against sports and is a “male” oriented series, this should have been seen as a positive sign.  It seems that those in charge of programming do not realize that Wesley Snipes, Philip Winchester or the gorgeous and talented Charity Wakefield were never going to pull viewers from a live sports event.

While the first episode was a little lackluster (mainly because of a lack of Snipes, whom the show’s producers seemed reluctant to allow too much screen time) the merits of Wakefield, who was by far the most interesting character, were obvious.

By the second episode, it was apparent that Damon Gupton’s character had been poorly written, making his “best friend” role to Philip Winchester’s Alex Kane (the Player) an odd fit. Snipes had more of a presence and Wakefield ruled the episode (as indeed she has pretty much ruled them all).

The third episode increased the action and the inter-action. The show was hitting its stride as the actors found their roles more comfortable and in turn made their characters feel more realistic. The mystery of Ginny became a constant and increasingly highlighted thread that allowed the delightful Daisy Betts to maintain a presence.

The Player  has a male lead, Winchester, who learned how to do action scenes convincingly on the UK series Strike Back,  and  is  a good “all rounder” who could produce tears and sport some very powerful acting chops. Philip is more than an athletic actor, he is an actor full stop.

As is Snipes. While the star has major martial arts skills, he also has more than his share of thespian talent. Wakefield has the ability to captivate the screen whenever she is in front of the camera and easily became the focus of attention.

So what went wrong?

It could be a number of things. The location for instance. With a  setting of Las Vegas, where a number of second unit shoots are used for each episode to continue the illusion that the show is not really shot in LA,  with exteriors done sans actors (mostly) on an ad hoc basis, may be expensive to maintain.

Or…

The stunts, which for the small screen are very impressive, may also be a bit costly to continue. After all, once a standard has been set, the show’s producers cannot cut back. Especially on a show with “limited” viewers already.

Or…

Snipes may want more freedom. The star is a film actor and not accustomed to the rigors of television work.  Hence his “limited” presence on the show initially. It could even come down to price tag. How much does it cost to put Snipes through his paces on a weekly basis?

Too much?

Constantine logo

In all likelihood, this appears to be a case of impatience on the part of NBC. Just as it was with Constantineand, ultimately, with Hannibal cancelled after three seasons because viewing figures were not what the network wanted.  The thing these two other show’s had in common was an “outside the box” mentality of the producers.

The Player was likened to Person of Interest (CBS) and while the latter series is still going strong, although it is rumored this last season is the last, the show’s may be the same “at the core” but the delivery is different.  Sadly, this will not matter to those in the NBC version.

It really does feel like NBC should stand for “No Bloody Clue” (pardon the language) when it comes to letting a new series hit its stride. The Player was hitting all the marks and even Damon Gupton was starting to feel like a good fit.  Despite a cast that were becoming an enjoyable team and episodes that were becoming addictive NBC have killed the show by cutting it off at nine episodes.

Unlike Constantine‘s Matt Ryan (as the main protagonist) who will at least have a small resurgence in CW’s The Arrow, The Player will have no such “second chance.” There has been no news of the show being taken up by Netflix or Hulu, or even another network, so the show is just as dead as the series’ player before Alex Kane.

The Player airs Thursdays on NBC for at least another four episodes. After which it will either fade into obscurity or get picked up by another network. Tune in to see what NBC has thrown away.

 

Hannibal Moves: NBC Still Struggles with Shows Outside the Box

Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal
If ever there was proof that NBC cannot handle television that falls outside the box Hannibal being moved by the network shows that they struggle with “abnormal” plots and storyline. That they even decided to run with a series about an iconic serial killer is pretty amazing and, had they kept the strength of their initial convictions, would have continued to be impressive.

The network also dropped the ball with Constantine, the supernatural thriller based upon the graphic novel Hellblazer, when they announced that the show would not be coming back for a second season before the fist season was even a few episodes old.

This same lack of imagination is what has prompted them to move Hannibal from its previous Thursday night slot to Saturday. A night normally referred to as a “rating’s wasteland.” The only real competition for audience members will be from the AMC Hell on Wheels western, with Colm Meaney and Anson Mount, their last season actually premieres on July 18. This final insult to the Mads Mikkelsen crime/horror series also appears to be the final nail in the show’s network coffin.

At SDCC the news for Hannibal fans was that neither Hulu nor Netflix are interested into taking the series into another season and the show’s creator is holding out hope for a feature length film for some fan closure. Ironically, despite a pretty loyal fanbase, the viewing figures for Hannibal are not high enough to elicit much excitement from any other networks.

More puzzling is the news that the David Duchovny vehicle Aquarius, which has been airing weekly even though the entire season could be viewed in one go over at Hulu at the start of its run, has also been moved by NBC. This “search for Manson” has been shoved over to Saturday as well.

Unlike Hannibal, however, Aquarius has been approved for another season making this shuffle even more questionable. Since viewer numbers are obviously more promising for this quasi “based upon real events” tale the move to a veritable desert is inexplicable and confusing. Again showing just how little NBC are able to deal with shows that are less “mainstream.”

While Hannibal seems to be left out in the cold in terms of TV land, Constantine is still casting about for another network. In May there was talk of the character showing up on one of the CW shows, Green Arrow and/or The Flash since all three are part of the DC comic verse.

This would be exciting news for fans of Hellblazer and Constantine but it does raise questions as to why CW are not rushing to put the NBC cancelled program on their line up. Brit star Matt Ryan, who fills his part as perfectly as Mikkelsen fills the shoes of Hannibal Lector, must be grinding his teeth in frustration at the delay in finding a new home.

In the meantime, fans of Mads Mikkelsen can see his continued portrayal of Lector on NBC but on Saturday vs its old time slot.

Hannibal: Cancelled by NBC aka Noxious Banal Cretins

Still of Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal
Let there be no doubt; NBC are a lot of noxious banal cretins who would not recognize class and quality if both of them came up and cut off their noses; sliced thinly and served on a silver platter with a fine Spanish red and a side of sautéed baby potatoes or however Hannibal himself might be tempted to serve up the powers that be who cancelled the show in its third season. This psychological horror series with its complex storylines and bucket loads of gore is easily the best scripted show on television and seemingly had something for everyone.

Certain episodes had scenes so horrific that what the eye did not see the imagination filled in handily and viewers must have known that these white knuckle images would come back to haunt their dreams. This violence and bloodshed, which to be honest was nowhere near as bad as it could have been, should have appealed to the younger demographic that television networks are so eager to please.

The complexity of the plot threads and the interaction between Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), Dr. Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) and a slew of other fascinating characters were the draw for those more sophisticated than the usual market target.

Show creator Bryan Forbes is not too upset and revealed that he has enjoyed the ride. Other’s are implying that the series may have gotten the NBC axe but that Hannibal could live on in another “platform.” Shows like Longmire, which was cancelled causing fan outrage as the ratings were actually solid, have been picked up by Netflix who will continue the series. More recently Constantine; another NBC show with a solid fanbase which was cancelled, has been actively pursuing a Netflix or Hulu deal and fans are “petitioning up”  to help  make this happen.

Like Constantine, Hannibal has had a difficult time building up a large following. Fans of both shows were dedicated and as mentioned by Slate.com, the latter series has always had an active and prolific Twitter fanbase.

Season three of Hannibal has had an introspective dreamy aspect that may have helped along its demise. Scenes are darker than ever and the amount of time spent focussing on mealtimes, with swelling operatic scores accentuating the sheer opulence of the cannibalistic feast, is almost overwhelming.

It is, perhaps, the introspection as well as the complex and almost musical dialogue of the characters which has also been off putting to the younger demographic. With lines containing several layers of meaning and the increasingly complicated interwoven threads of plot and characters, this “look at Hannibal’s beginning” could be bogging the average viewer down.

This is nothing new, each of the first two seasons made the audience think. Certainly fans were wont to discuss the meanings of the symbology and the mythos in the show after each episode. Twitter has been, as mentioned above, the social platform of choice for most fans to talk implications and underlying themes.

With the news that NBC has turned its back on a show that is highly praised by critics but has a disappointing viewer rating, fans will have to wait to see if a new home can be found for the series and its incredible cast. Until then, the rest of season three can be enjoyed in spite of the noxiously banal cretins at NBC.

Constantine: The Saint of Last Resorts (Review)

Constantine: The Saint of Last Resorts (Review)

At the beginning of the two part Constantine episode The Saint of Last Resorts a newborn baby is taken from his mother. she has her throat ripped open and all this takes place in a convent in Mexico. A nun rushes into the room to find the baby gone and the mother dead, the husband comes in and seeing his dead wife, screams. Up in the U.S. John and Zed have a quick chat over a sketch the she is working on and after this short bit of bonding, Constantine heads upstairs. Zed is surprised by a woman’s sudden appearance in the living room and she tells the woman that she did not know she was there.