Composer Kurt Farquhar on Black Lightning, the evolving sound of an ongoing series, and more

kurt farquhar black lightning season 3 soul train own the neighbourhood interview

We’ve had to change and alter things to be a little bit darker, a little bit edgier. There’s a lot of solo violin and cello, string quartets and things like that, mixed with some urban ethnic sounds and a lot of interesting samples. We’re just making up some shit, we’ll see! But it’s been pretty exciting. It’s a very interesting season, trying to figure out where they’re going. I personally have not been watching ahead – I watch an episode when I get it, when it’s ready for me, that’s when I look at it. I don’t look at any of it earlier, because I just want to be discovering this like the fans are, I want to be so close to my emotions so that the only difference between me and the fans is that I get to emotionally erupt onto the musical palette, you know? Like “oh my God, that was so cool!”

Another interview! This time with Kurt Farquhar, who’s the composer on Black Lightning – and lots of other things too, actually, because he hasn’t worked on fewer than five shows at once since 1991.

It was also quite interesting to hear about Kurt’s plan to start suggesting producers hire other, new composers instead of him – helping composers who are just starting out get more established. That’s pretty cool, I thought. Read more at the link, as per the norm.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Interviews Index

The problem with Nazi allegories in fiction

supergirl nazi overgirl crisis on earth x the flash legends of tomorrow star wars fictional nazi arrow melissa benoist

Of note – simply because it’s right around the corner, and a pretty good indication of what I have in mind – is the upcoming CW DC crossover event. Crisis on Earth X is set to unite the Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow heroes in one great big extra-dimensional fight against their alternative selves from Earth X – a secret world where the Allies lost the second World War, and all our heroes are thus Nazis.

There’s something uncomfortable about this, I think, in a way that’s not necessarily easy to articulate. It’s not that it’s normalising Nazis, exactly, because it isn’t. Rather, it’s rendering them as objects of fantasy, villains that exist only in secret alternate earths – when that isn’t really the case. It doesn’t matter if you refer back to the idea of the awful atrocities committed (and the special crossover does put concentration camps in a key role), there’s an implicit suggestion that these are ultimately just cartoonish figures by placing them in that role.

An attempt to articulate something I’d been thinking about for a few years now; I also spoke a little about Star Wars, but the main focus is Arrow etc, because it was timely. I’m quite behind on the Arrowverse shows, but I did watch the Crisis on Earth-x crossover. It was… quite something.

Looking back, this article actually posted the same weekend as one of the more egregious of those New York Times Trump voter profiles, about a man who was a literal Nazi, being celebrated because he actually quite liked Seinfeld. Which was patently ridiculous, and got me pondering the role of fiction in reaching this climate. The above is very much a starting point rather than the definitive word on the comment, but I think it gestures at something that’s broadly on point.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Superhero TV Index

Why you should be watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

crazy ex girlfriend beyonce aline brosh mckenna love kernels rachel bloom cw musical rebecca bunch mental health

That premise, combined with that title? You can perhaps understand why people might get the impression it’s a little simplistic. But, of course, as any fan of the show would attest – it’s a lot more nuanced than that. 

Across the course of its first two series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has examined and deconstructed all those old romantic tropes – a clever consideration of just what makes the genre tick, and how a lot of those time-worn ideas are more than a little bit problematic. It does so through a whole cast of vivid and vibrant characters who are practically jumping off the screen – if nothing else, the show is never anything less than wonderfully entertaining.

A piece I wrote a while back, before Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 3 started; it went out under a different title to how I pitched it (which is above), which I think compromised the piece a little, but still.

I’m a huge, huge fan of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Rachel Bloom, and it’s been a real pleasure to see both the show and her gain such high levels of acclaim recently. I do genuinely believe that, in the years to come, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will go down as one of the best television shows ever. Ever!

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | General TV Index

Juliana Harkavy on Arrow, her character Dinah Drake, and more

arrow black canary dinah drake laurel lance juliana harkavy katie cassidy arrow seaosn 5 the cw marc guggenheim wendy mericle dc comics interview hd wallpaper

There was a fan in Portland, at a comic book convention, a really big fan who was in a wheelchair, and she had this wheelchair that was completely covered in stuff from the show… She told us that she keeps our pictures on her so she feels brave and strong. It was such an incredible moment and it answers the question of how important this is.

My interview with Juliana Harkavy from Arrow! She was lovely.

This is another piece that ended up in my portfolio, if you’d like to check that out.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Interviews Index

Maisie Richardson-Sellers on Vixen, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, and more

legends of tomorrow season 2 vixen interview maisie richardson sellers amaya jiwe dc arrowverse flickering myth alex moreland

[Vixen] has a very crisp, clear view of right and wrong and she will do whatever it takes to do what is right and whatever it takes to destroy what she believes is wrong and that is something that she sees challenged quite a lot when she meets the Legends because they’re a lot more in the grey area of right and wrong and that’s something she just has to put up with and it’s like is she willing to pull back there a little bit to save the Legends or is it too much for her?

My interview with Maisie Richardson-Sellers about Legends of Tomorrow! Sadly, because of audio problems, there are a few chunks of this missing, but the majority is still there.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Interviews Index

Archie vs Predator: Why Riverdale’s Miss Grundy storyline didn’t work

riverdale archie vs predator miss grundy car sex scene the cw sarah habel geraldine grundy jennifer gibson statutory rape

On paper, it’s evident what this is – a predatory relationship between a teacher and a student, nothing more complicated than that. Within the show, however, this fairly straightforward detail is lost somewhat, leaving Riverdale in a far more problematic position: Archie and Miss Grundy are presented as having an illicit romance, one which is sexualised and glamorised by the narrative.

In part, it’s perhaps just a matter of visuals; it’s easy to forget that the teenagers in Riverdale really are just that, given that many of the actors look so much older. Without that in mind, the dynamic does change considerably – but it has to be remembered that Archie and his peers are 16 years old, all minors. Miss Grundy is a statutory rapist. There’s no other way of looking at it.

I actually really like Riverdale, generally speaking. It’s a huge amount of fun, and I’m disappointed that the first time I’ve written about it has been to critique it, rather than celebrating it.

But, much as I enjoy it, it does have flaws. And one of those flaws is the utterly tone-deaf and poorly handled Miss Grundy storyline, in which the show sexualises and glamorises a predatory relationship.

So, you know. Some limits.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Riverdale Index

TV shows like Arrow or The Flash have always been superpowered soap operas – and there’s nothing wrong with that

arrow the flash soap opera the cw marc guggenheim wendy mericle keeping up with the smoaks felicity oliver queen olicity

Arrow, from the beginning, was always about the personal lives of its characters. Yes, there’s the obvious angle of the love triangle between Oliver, Tommy and Laurel – but it’s not as though Oliver’s mission wasn’t deeply personally motivated, or inextricably tied to the affairs of his father. That’s demonstrably a soap opera plot, right from the beginning!

Superheroes keep secrets, living double lives, and hiding parts of themselves from those around them that they love. That can surely be considered a soap opera story, no? And surely no one would ever argue that these superhero TV programmes don’t rely on sensationalised and exaggerated plotting – lest you forget, the Flash fought a race of sentient gorillas just a few weeks ago. Besides, everyone loves a good scenery chewing villain, and that’s the epitome of melodrama.

I always thought it was pretty ridiculous when people complained that Arrow was like a soap opera – as if they’d only just noticed? So here’s a post explaning how Arrow has always been a soap opera, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Superhero TV Index

The Flash will need to break with formula to survive

the flash dc cw grant gustin hd wallpaper clifford devoe season 5 arrowverse greg berlanti andrew kreisberg harrison wells tom cavanagh

In a way, the shows that operate alongside The Flash are becoming its greatest threat; Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow – and likely eventually Black Lightning – all work from fairly similar formulas to The Flash. (This was particularly evident in Supergirl season one, which mimicked the structure of The Flash season one fairly closely.) While it’s undeniable that each show executes the formula well, when four programmes are executing the same formula in the same way each week, it does start to get a little tired.

And so The Flash needs to evolve – it has to grow beyond the formula it adheres to so closely, and stop sticking to the same structure with every episode. After all, there’s surely only so many times that Barry running faster to beat someone who is also fast can be considered a satisfying payoff to a year of television, no?

A few thoughts on The Flash, and the changes it’ll need to make to continue to grow and develop and stay of a high level of quality. I am fond of the show, of course, but there’s a frustrating feeling that I’ve simply seen it all before – sometimes even four nights a week – and that needs to change. (I didn’t even begin to get into the whole “mentor is secretly evil” thing they’ve done each year!)

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Superhero TV Index

Love, Mental Illness, and why you’ve got to face the music: the subversive genius of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend depression mental health rachel bloom aline brosh mckenna the cw sexy french depression black balloon black and white hd wallpaper

And yet while our eponymous character shies away from her issues, the show itself never has; it’s always been confident and open in its depiction of Rebecca’s mental health issues. Indeed, it’s built into the very fabric of the show itself, with the various musical numbers of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend acting as a representation of Rebecca’s dissociative episodes, and often explicitly dealing with the programme’s darker themes. This “juxtaposition of extreme lightness and extreme darkness”, Rachel Bloom put it, informs the way Crazy Ex-Girlfriend depicts anxiety and depression, and is perhaps why the show can tackle these issues so directly – there’s always a veneer of whimsy, even when the addressing serious subject matter. There’s something quite significant about the fact that a mainstream television programme is confronting these themes at all, let alone quite so regularly and openly.

An article I wrote today about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and mental health. I’m likely to return to this in future; there’s so much to be said about this show that one article can’t quite cut it.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | General TV Index

Supergirl and the question of refugees, immigrants, and illegal aliens

supergirl a hero for everyone hd poster wallpaper melissa benoist dc cw arrowverse kara danvers review supergirl refugees martians krypton

The show is exploring the theme of immigration through their various dispossessed alien characters – an entirely understandable choice. It’s attempting to convey the message, basically, that there’s no need to be suspicious of refugees, and to treat them with acceptance and tolerance – an entirely admirable decision. It’s not, however, conveyed particularly effectively, because many of these same dispossessed aliens end up being the ‘threat of the week’ – while the episode is saying one thing about refugees, while demonstrating another through its plot. This paradox was painfully evident in the aforementioned episode Welcome to Earth, wherein one of the alien refugees does turn out to be evil, despite frequent insistence that this wouldn’t be the case – it’s a frustrating lapse that undercuts the message that Supergirl is reaching for.

What makes this particularly frustrating, though, is that there are several other avenues open to the writers from which to explore this concept – many of them more effective than the direction they opted for.

Here’s an article I’ve been meaning to write for a little while, about how Supergirl has been handling the themes of immigration. There’s a chance it might form something of a broader series of articles – alongside, I suspect, “Legends of Tomorrow and historical racism”, “Arrow and capitalism” and then something else about The Flash just to cover all four – but I wouldn’t hold your breath there.

(Yeah, I never did do those other ones. Would’ve been interesting to see what I came up with. Ah well. If I remember correctly, actually, I wrote the above post in school during a free period. Those were the days. Anyway, I’ve not re-read the above; I suspect the basic point I was going for still works, but forgive me any lapses borne from ignorance.)

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Superhero TV Index