TV Trailer Thoughts | Sherlock Series 4

sherlock series 4 teaser the lying detective drugs benedict cumberbatch beard bbc steven moffat mark gatiss eurus holmes

In amongst all the other SDCC news, we got this trailer for the fourth season of Sherlock, which will be released… some point next year? They’ve had success in the January slot before, so that’s a possibility, but it could also be a little early yet. We’ll see, I suppose.

What stands out about this particular trailer the most is that it’s quite clearly moved away from the original detective style storytelling. Sherlock is now very much an adventure series, with Sherlock Holmes just as much an action hero as he is a deductive genius. I can’t say it’s a change I’m particularly averse to, admittedly; there’s something about that which does, I feel, fit the character. Particularly Moffat and Cumberbatch’s iteration, actually, who’s always been pitched as being addicted to the thrill of adventure, ever since A Study in Pink.

(In light of that, I admit I’m a little worried about the potential incorporation of Sherlock’s drug abuse in upcoming episodes; largely because it’s something they eschewed mentioning in the past, with Moffat and Gatiss having made a conscious choice to leave it out. To do so now seems… well, I’m just worried that there’s a risk it might end up feeling underdeveloped, particularly given that this is going to be a fairly busy season. Nonetheless, these are just tentative concerns, and I’m still interested to see where that’s taken.)

Other than that? Well, there’s the Moriarty return, of course. I’m of the view that Moriarty isn’t really back, but rather it’s a series of pretaped videos and other machinations that he left in place to extend his influence even after his death. I expect this won’t be the plot for the whole season, as Toby Jones’ villain will presumably take the centre position – at the minute, I’m just hoping they don’t let Moriarty overshadow Jones, in the same way he very nearly overshadowed Magnussen last year.

There’s also the three clue words for this season, which are customarily enigmatic: Thatcher, Smith, and Sherrinford. This Radio Times article gives a pretty good rundown of what each could mean, and reaches largely similar conclusions to the ones I did (including, incidentally, the Thatcher blogpost). Of the three, it’s “Sherrinford” I’m perhaps most interested in – although that’s probably because its meaning is also the most obvious, so I’ve got the best idea of what it might mean. The dynamic between Sherlock and Mycroft has been consistently quite interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it might continue to evolve in this new series.

Generally, though, I’m quite excited about this. Even though I didn’t quite enjoy the third season of Sherlock as much as its predecessors, there’s a lot about this season that I’m looking forward to. It’s nice to see Lindsay Duncan back, after she was underutilised last year. It’s great to see all the characters I like so much, like Molly, Mrs. Hudson, and Mary – as well as, obviously, John and Sherlock. Particularly exciting is the fact that Rachel Talalay, who is fantastic, will be directing the opening episode; I’m really looking forward to seeing her take on Sherlock.

Roll on… 2017, or whenever.

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TV Trailer Thoughts | Vixen Season 2

vixen cw seed series 2 megalyn echikunwoke arrow legends of tomorrow animated cartoon dc

Admittedly, I’m only doing this because I’m pretty sure everyone else has forgotten Vixen even exists. (Even Yahoo deleted my review of the first season! You can find another copy on my blog here, though.)

Still, I do think it’s worthwhile to talk about Vixen, if only because she’s the only WOC superhero that gets… if not her own television show, something that resembles one. And I mean, in a way, the existence of this show is the reason why we got Vixen on Arrow, and why we’re sort of getting Vixen on Legends of Tomorrow. So, as it goes, Vixen is kind of cool and all. (Besides, if there’s more buzz surrounding the actual show, that’s likely to have something of a knock-on effect, with the potential for more live action appearances in future.)

It’s nice, I guess, to see further tie-ins to the wider DC TV universe in this clip, with both Flash and Firestorm showing up to help take down Weather Wizard. I’m wary, though, of the possibility for Vixen to be overshadowed in her own programme; both Ray Palmer and Laurel Lance are going to be in subsequent episodes of Vixen, and while there is something nice about that, there remains a fairly limited amount of screentime for this show, and I wouldn’t want our TV show stars to take too much time away from a character who doesn’t really get a lot of time anyway.

This clip does also remind me of the limitations of Vixen too, of course; there’s the fact that it’s quite a short program (the above is, I imagine, about half an episode’s worth of content) but also that animation is a very… specific medium, which requires a different approach to television. It’s immediately clear with the voice acting, for example; Victor Garber is (perhaps literally) phoning his performance in, and I’m not overly impressed by Grant there either. Neither are bad actors, but voice acting is a very different skill from “normal” acting. The actual animation itself isn’t bad – a nice art style, with good representations of each character – but I’m still just a little worried about how well the show can handle emotional content, and whether or not it’ll overreach itself somewhat, in the same fashion as last year.

Still! Vixen was an entertaining enough way to spend half an hour last year, soI’ve little doubt they should be able to replicate that again this go around.

Related:

Vixen Series Review – Arrow’s Animated Adventure

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TV Trailer Thoughts | Legends of Tomorrow Season 2

legends of tomorrow season 2 dc arthur darvill caity lotz maisie richardson sellers dc arrow flash wentworth miller

This trailer leaves me with the least to say, I think, largely because it’s the one with the least new content – it’s predominantly recycled footage from last year, I suppose because Legends earlier in the filming process than the other two shows?

Anyway.

I don’t really know what to think, to be honest. For a while now I’ve had reservations about the shape of the second season of Legends, and I must admit that I’ve not really been reassured by this trailer. I kind of feel as though the best way to take advantage of the anthology format would be to really push the boat out and just go for it – I feel like the cast should have been shaken up a little more, and perhaps even the time travel aspects abandoned. Retain the “DC’s Legends of” title, and then just do whatever. DC’s Legends of the Dark, a magic and horror based series. DC’s Legends of the Universe, focusing on the intergalactic side of DC comics. Even DC’s Legends of the Multiverse, perhaps.

(I realise, obviously, that you’d need to have some continuity between series, and you can’t just completely change everything each time. My Legends of the Dark pitch does, after all, contain three characters from Legends of Tomorrow, and a further two that were already introduced on Arrow. That, in essence, is the sort of thing I had in mind.)

Even then, though, I’m not sure necessarily that repositioning the show to be about a group of time police is the best idea. I almost feel like it’s better if they have a specific, targeted aim – perhaps the defeat of Vandal Savage created a new problem (Thanagarian invasion!) that they have to deal with? I don’t know, it just feels that making these characters into, as I said, time police is perhaps changing them too far beyond their original conception, simply to ensure they still fit a premise which, honestly, they may well have outgrown.

Hmm. I’ve been quite doom and gloom about this whole thing, haven’t I? Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the first season of Legends, and I fully expect to enjoy this season too.  The above was just my immediate thoughts and initial reservations; I’ve no doubt I should be able to get past them reasonably quickly. Principally, Legends of Tomorrow is just a really fun show, and as long as they manage to keep that up, I’m willing to forgive them a lot.

On a related note, I’m a tad peeved there was no Supergirl trailer. That’s the one I was looking forward to most!

Related:

Legends of Tomorrow season 1 review

Supergirl season 1 review

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TV Trailer Thoughts | The Flash Season 3

the flash season 3 season 4 barry allen grant gustin wally west kid flash keiynan lonsdale savitar the thinker legends of tomorrow flashpoint

Cards on the table: I thought an adaptation of Flashpoint was a mistake.

Let’s just look back on my review of The Flash Season 2, because past-me articulated my stance far better than current-me would:

As for next year? I am tentatively worried. Flashpoint, to me, seems like a mistake. Primarily, there’s the fact that The Flash has been mining the Flashpoint story for a lot of imagery for a long time, taking different aspects and using them in the way that best suited the show at the time; Barry bringing Iris a video of Eddie, for example, or being electrocuted to regain his speed. That means that if they do try and use any of the more well known aspects of the Flashpoint story, then it’s going to come across as quite repetitive. (Then again, given how much of this series was just season one repackaged and repolished slightly, it’s possible that being repetitive isn’t a huge concern.)

More importantly, though, I feel like it’s moving backwards. Earlier, I mentioned how much I appreciated that The Flash was dedicated to developing each of the characters; one of the best episodes this year, The Runaway Dinosaur, was all about Barry getting past the death of his mother. It was a really poignant episode, and I think can be included as one of the best of the entire show, up there with the season one finale.

But then they threw that away just a few episodes later.

I stand by this, still; the new trailer didn’t do a lot to reassure me. (In fact, since writing that, I’ve actually grown more disinterested in the Flashpoint adaptation because I’ve read the original comic, and watched the animated movie, and found both to be quite underwhelming; they felt to me more of a string of “cool” moments and set pieces, rather than an attempt at emotional storytelling.)

Don’t get me wrong, there looks to be a lot of cool stuff here. I really enjoy alternate takes on characters I already know, and looking at parallel universe versions of them; the new timeline has the potential to be quite engaging. It looks to me at the minute as though Wally is going to be the Flash in this new dimension; while I’m not expecting him to retain these powers when the timeline is fixed, I think this is probably foreshadowing a point later on in the season when he will gain powers in the proper timeline. (I’m a little disappointed to see another speedster villain, though, and I dearly hope that this is confined solely to the flashpoint timeline; The Flash is quite heavily running the risk of getting too repetitive with speedster villains.)

Part of me is slightly concerned that what we’ve seen here is actually just an edited down version of the first episode; from the filming reports I’ve been following, it seems they’ve only recently started episode 2, which does suggest that all of this footage is simply from the premier episode. I hope that’s not the case; I kinda feel like the only thing that would bother me more than doing Flashpoint would be to rush it. It seems to me that this is something that should, at the very least, get two-parter, because 40 minutes really doesn’t feel like enough. (I’m particularly hoping to see a considerable number of scenes between Barry and his mother, because I feel that this was a crucial aspect that the original story was lacking.)

In the end, I’m still looking forward to this new season of The Flash a lot. After all, I do really love the show; while I felt that there were, perhaps, a few missteps with the second season, on the whole it remained quite fantastic. I know that it’s going to remain consistently entertaining, and to be quite honest, I’ll probably still quite enjoy the flashpoint episodes too.

It’s just that, right now, this trailer hasn’t quite convinced me, and I’m feeling just a little underwhelmed by it all.

Ah well.

Related:

The Flash Season 2 Review

What will a DC TV Flashpoint look like?

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TV Trailer Thoughts | Arrow Season 5

arrow season 5 oliver queen stephen amell mayor star city marc guggenheim beth schwartz

I have been very critical of Arrow over the past few months. (As have a lot of people, really.) In particular, I’ve called out the show for its poor treatment of female characters, and generally abysmal track record with fridging. I’ve given up on other shows for less, and I can’t say that I’m hugely confident about Arrow’s fifth season being able to improve on the precedent of sloppy characterisation and limited emotional beats that has been set across season four.

Nonetheless, I do intend to, at the very least, give it a chance. If nothing else, it should give me a degree of inspiration as to things I can write about.

So, in the flashbacks this year we’re going to be exploring Oliver’s bratva past; it’s something everyone had already clocked on to, but it’s nice to have that confirmed and see a little bit of footage from it. I’m interested to see where they take that; one of the best things about the flashbacks is when they’re tied into the present day arc. Not necessarily in terms of the actual plot, but rather thematically; when Oliver’s journey in the flashbacks directly parallels his development in the present, the writing on the show becomes ever more impressive. (This is one of the things that was sadly missing from the fourth season flashbacks, which did a lot of work to set up some interesting thematic stuff, and then… went nowhere with it. As with a lot of the interesting concepts set up by Arrow’s fourth season, really.)

In the present day, then, we’ve got Oliver training a new set of heroes. (Directly paralleling the bratva environment where you have to be entirely self-sufficient and can’t rely on others! See? So much interesting stuff you can do with that!) As it stands, I think this could be quite interesting; it’s a new role for Oliver to take, and there’s a lot of potential for that to be taken in some interesting directions. While I am quite fond of the dynamic shared between the original Arrow group, mixing it up a bit seems like a good way to keep things fresh. I’m a little wary, admittedly, of the possibility for this to be mishandled; one of the problems in Arrow season 4 was an over saturation of vigilante characters who weren’t made meaningfully distinct from one another. I do think it’s possible for Arrow to successfully have multiple vigilante characters; they just have to take care to pay attention to the characterisation of each.

I was a little disappointed not to see any clips from Oliver’s mayoral campaign, which is one of the few things I’m actually genuinely quite excited about for the new season of Arrow – I’m hoping that’s just because it doesn’t fit particularly well into a trailer, rather than because it won’t be focused on in the early episodes. Having Oliver as the Mayor would, I believe, push both the character and the show into new places, which is undeniably quite intriguing.

Another piece of news from Comic-Con that I found quite interesting, but I don’t think I can spin off into its own post, is the fact that Katie Cassidy will have a “universe regular” contract. If I’ve understood it correctly, that means she’ll have 23 appearances, spread out across Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. I’m in two minds about this: while I think it was a huge mistake to kill off the character, I don’t know that contrived excuses to bring back quasi-versions of the character through time travel, flashbacks and alternate Earth doppelgangers is necessarily going to work. I’d prefer, I think, if the show were simply to own its choices and move forward regardless, without looking back and trying to get a do-over.

That about concludes my Arrow related thoughts, in any case. Somewhat longer than expected, actually.

Related:

Arrow & the Disturbing Trend of Fridging Female Characters

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Film Trailer Thoughts | Justice League (First Look Footage)

justice league first look footage sdcc 2016 henry cavill ben affleck gal gadot jason momao ezra miller ray fisher zack snyder joss whedon

Alongside the Wonder Woman trailer, we’ve also got our first look at Justice League.

I’ve said – quite a lot, actually – how I’m not really a fan of the current direction that DC seems to be taking their properties in; I’ve done it to death by this point, so I shan’t spend too long on it, but in essence I’ve been less than impressed by the grimdark, cynical veneer applied to Superman, because I simply don’t recognise that interpretation as being my Superman. (To say nothing, of course, of the sheer sloppiness and general faults that are found within Batman vs Superman.)

And given the level of criticism I’ve levelled at the franchise, you’d perhaps be forgiven for mistaking it as a general disdain for DC characters. That couldn’t be further from the truth, honestly; I far prefer them to their Marvel counterparts, and I really enjoy all of the DC television offerings that are currently about. (Arrow notwithstanding, of course.) Indeed, I’m a pretty big fan of all the DC characters, but none moreso than the Justice League; the Bruce Timm cartoon series was a pretty huge factor in my resounding love for superheroes, hence a soft spot for the Justice League.

But that’s also why I’ve been so worried about this movie – there’s a personal connection, for me, and a precedent that seems to suggest it was very much going to be a movie that wasn’t for me. Which is fine, you know; other interpretations can be valid, and I don’t need everything to be tailored exactly to my idiosyncratic tastes, even if I’d quite like them to be.

Yet there’s something about this trailer, even despite all my reservations, I find extremely exciting. Tonally, it’s far more on the ball than previous installments; this film looks like it might be fun, for a change, rather than unremittingly dull and cynical. Visually, it already looks impressive, with Aquaman and the Flash being particularly notable standouts. (I imagine we saw comparatively little of Cyborg because of the level of CGI his character clearly involves.)

There’s already a great chemistry between the core cast, it seems, with a very natural interplay on display. I’m glad to see Batman and Wonder Woman working together, as friends, just like I’m used to them doing. I’m glad to see Barry and Bruce interacting so well together. And I’m glad to see that Bruce and Aquaman don’t, immediately, gel with one another; I wouldn’t want everything to be the same, after all. Primarily, then, I’m glad that this trailer seems to be putting the characters front and centre, and I dearly hope that the movie does too.

So, for now, to hell with all my doubts and my naysaying. This has got me excited, and for now, I’m just going to bask in that. The characters I love are going to have a movie together, and right now, it looks fantastic.

Finally.

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Film Trailer Thoughts | Wonder Woman (First Look Footage)

wonder woman textless poster wallpaper hd gal gadot chris pine patty jenkins trailer first look footage reaction thoughts

Wow!

This landed about fifteen minutes or so ago, and I have to say, I am very impressed. I’m on record as not really being a huge fan of the previous DCEU instalments, but I was very fond of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman; she was, I’m inclined to say, one of the saving graces of Batman vs Superman. nonetheless, though, I remained tentative about this film.

But! Having seen this, I’m hugely, hugely impressed. It looks stellar. There’s a real emphasis on Diana as a character here; what’s conveyed most immediately is her sheer physicality. This trailer, I imagine, is directed at the naysayers – those few who don’t believe a woman can headline a superhero movie have, surely, changed their minds by now, no? What I appreciated most was how firmly the camera work didn’t objectify Wonder Woman here; there’s no intrusion of the male gaze or anything like that here. Just a single-minded emphasis

I’m also really glad that Wonder Woman is going to tackle the Grecian mythology aspects head on; after the ridiculous NBC Wonder Woman pilot, I was worried that perhaps certain elements of Diana’s backstory might be toned down somewhat. Thankfully, though, that’s not the case – we’ve got a direct namecheck for Zeus, and Themyscira Island looks quite beautiful. While I doubt we’ll spend a huge chunk of the movie there – I imagine it’ll be limited to Act One – I’m quite looking forward to getting a glimpse into this other culture.

So, this is what we’re getting: a Wonder Woman movie, set in World War One, with what looks to be some gorgeous cinematography and direction. It’s got Gal Gadot, who was one of the best parts of Batman vs Superman, and Chris Pine, who’s pretty damn good himself. We’re also finally getting a female superhero movie, with a female director helming the project too.

That’s pretty neat, huh?

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SDCC 2016 News Roundup: Marvel Television

marvel studios logo netflix defenders luke cage iron fist sdcc 2016

San Diego Comic-Con has been underway for a few days now, and we’ve already got plenty of exciting news from the Marvel Television department. A particular focus was on the Netflix television projects, which have enjoyed a lot of success already, with several new trailers having been released.

So, trailers have been released for Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders; that’s obviously all very exciting, so I’ve written a little bit of a news roundup/reaction post for Yahoo TV.

In related news, I finially got around to finishing the second season of Daredevil today. That’s kinda been my process for each of these Netflix shows, albeit somewhat inadvertantly; I watch the first 7 episodes or so, and then don’t get around to the back half until several months later. It’s a bit of a nuisance, really, because it means I tend to pick up on spoilers and whatnot  – but that’s all my own fault, really. I think in future I’ll try and watch the opening episodes more slowly in future, so I don’t burn out quite so quickly.

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