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. 

Arrow: Haunted – Hello John Constantine and Ray Palmer (Review)

Matt Ryan as John Constantine

It really is only because Matt Ryan, as John Constantine, is on Arrow for the Haunted episode that MikesFilmTalk is writing about the show.  Not that the CW series is unappreciated, Arrow is, like The Flash, a firm favorite. Unfortunately, CW, like CBS were overly snobby when divvying out press access to their stable of shows.   Regardless of the fact that this site is edited and published by a journo, the networks rather snottily explained that this little site was too small to have access to either screeners or photo’s from episodes of their shows.

Regardless of the highly annoyingly  snobbish attitude to sites that are not IGN or Huffington Post, or fill in name of “large” money making site here,  the inclusion of Ryan’s splendid presence as Constantine made both watching and writing about episode 405 almost fait accompli.

It is, perhaps, more than a little annoying that this was one of the least impressive episodes of Arrow thus far.  Sara Lance, whose time in the Lazarus Pit has allowed her body to return sans soul, is killing bad people all over town. Although she has also been attacking Thea “lookalikes” as well, she has yet to actually kill any of the short-haired Thea-ites.

Speaking of the attacks on Thea, aka Speedy, Sara not having a soul allowed her to radically kick the Queen sibling’s butt ragged.  This young lady, Thea Queen,  who has severe anger management issues and who can barely restrain herself from killing the baddies around town gets beaten to a pulp by the recently returned dead girl.

The gang, who are now working together for a greater Star City,  set up a trap for Sara to stop her from harming Thea and to save the criminal element from being killed, after all thugs are people too.  Cue the backstory of Queen meeting John Constantine on (drumroll please) the island.

As is typical of an Arrow episode there is much too-ing and fro-ing from present to past and the overall presence of John Constantine is kept to a minimum.  Cutting to the chase, Constantine helps to save Sara by bringing Oliver and Laurel into the netherworld to rescue her captured soul, kept in a netherworld version of the Lazarus Pit, and to come back out unscathed.

There is another subplot about Diggle’s brother Andrew who apparently was as pure as the driven slush before being murdered by HIVE.

As interesting as this all is, let us look at Matt Ryan’s reappearance as Constantine, away from NBC and their inability to understand what is good for their own network (Can you say “The Player?”) who cancelled Ryan’s brilliant portrayal of the cigarette smoking “hero.”

Seeing the Welsh actor put on the trench coat and tie again, was fun…

But…

To this viewer, Ryan’s Constantine in Arrow looked different. He also sounds different. John’s British drawl has been “cleaned up” and sounds much less “real” than it did on the NBC series.  And…Apart from once on the island, when Constantine asks if anyone has a cigarette, the character does not light up once and John looks, for lack of a better word, too clean.

The lighting or filters used for filming Arrow made Ryan look much less “rough and ready” and more like a plastic version of his character.  In essence, the long wait for Matt Ryan to turn up as Constantine was a bit of a let down.

About the network who killed Constantine the series, there is one moment where the character has apparently asked for a peacock feather, a sly dig at NBC whose logo is still a spread of peacock feathers, which John then uses to scratch his back.  That was amusing but not too satisfying and there was no groundwork  laid for Ryan to return. After saving Sara, Constantine recommends to Queen that they consider their debt’s to one another paid off, “let’s say we’re even.”

Still, it was good to see the actor who brought John Constantine to life so convincingly return, even if it was on a snobby network that still believes that Supernatural is the shizzle in terms of fantasy television.   Another bone of contention was that when Matt talked as his character he did more reverse English magic incantation chanting  than having any  actual conversation.

This may have been a good thing since the accent was so toned down, it seems that on Arrow, or CW, that saying mate a lot indicates an English accent…

It also should be noted that Arrow does continue to entertain and that Queen’s evolution into the Green Arrow was a nice touch.  All in all, there could have been more Matt Ryan, Neal McDonough and Emily Bett Rickards in this episode.  After all there is no such thing as too much Constantine, or Damien Darhk and definitely there can never be enough Felicity Smoak.

Of course the big jaw dropping reveal is that Ray Palmer is alive, although apparently not well, as his final message tells Felicity that he is in trouble.  Arrow airs Wednesdays on CW, tune in and see what happens next now that Ms. Smoak has learned that Ray is alive alive-oh.

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.

Constantine: NBC Dooms Its English Exorcist #SaveConstantine

Constantine: NBC Dooms Its English Exorcist #SaveConstantine

Whilst getting ready to review the latest episode in the comic book NBC series Constantine, it was discovered that the network has taken the first steps to cancelling this out of the box program featuring its version of an English exorcist by cutting the first season’s episodes down to 13 hence the social media campaign of hashtag #SaveConstantine. This development, which was first brought to light in November, feels an awful lot like the Longmire debacle over on A&E, although not quite the same as the cowboy detective had a huge fanbase who were all the wrong age according to that network. Constantine, has been steadily growing in popularity, says zap2it’s TV by the Numbers in an article released on December 13.

Constantine: Blessed Are the Damned (Recap and Review)

Constantine: Blessed Are the Damned (Recap and Review)

It is hard not to love a series where the main character uses phrases like “gobsmacked” which the main protagonist John Constantine does in Blessed Are the Damned. In Constantine, the Liverpool lad brings his country’s language with him to the rural U.S. and to the not so rural areas of the country. In this week’s episode a lay preacher for a small church is bitten by a rattlesnake and he lays dying on the floor. Suddenly, he comes back to life clutching a feather. Upon his return he can now perform miracles, such as healing and the first member of his congregation, a one legged man, grows a new leg after being touched by the preacher.