Black Lightning
US TV

Review: Black Lightning 1×1 (US: The CW; UK: Netflix)

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW
In the UK: Tuesdays on Netflix. Starts January 23

Oh look. Another superhero show on The CW. Who saw that coming? I mean it’s only got Arrow. And The Flash. And Supergirl. And DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. How can any TV network manage to get by with only four superhero shows. It seems inconceivable.

Yet here we are with Black Lightning, which on the face of it doesn’t look a radical departure. It has a black superhero at its core, but Arrow already has Mr Terrific, so admirable though it is, it’s not new for The CW. The budget’s no bigger than Arrow and the rest’s – indeed, it looks cheaper most of the time, despite all the night shooting intended to conceal the fact.

Yet, on the network for young adults, Black Lightning is indeed radical, because it’s about a middle-aged man. Throwing aside conventional origin stories, the show picks up nearly a decade after electrically-charged superhero Black Lightning (Cress Williams) hung up his costume and lightning bolts so that he could settle down, look after his family and become the principal of a local high school.

However, despite the best efforts of the police, particularly Damon Gupton (The Player), a new gang called The 100 has moved into town and is taking over. When they start threatening his school and his teenage daughters (China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams), Williams decides enough is enough and with the help of an old pal (appropriately enough, former Thunder God James Remar), steps up to protect the neighbourhood by resurrecting Black Lightning.

Easy middle-age

Now, it has to be said, despite being even older than I am, Cress Williams seems to be having a super-powered middle age. Not for him clicky knees when he stands up and without having trained in martial arts for years, he can still do a speedy roundhouse kick without pulling a tendon. Getting shot? A mere flesh wound.

Okay, he’s got super strength, as well as the ability to control electricity, but let’s have some sense of reality. Clearly this a show written by young people, who don’t really know what’s still to come for them. Even if you couldn’t have guessed from the school setting that the network is hedging their bets about the strength of the show’s appeal to the ‘starting to grey and where’d that tummy come from?’ demographic, the end of the first episode suggests that younger superheroes are going to be around. Maybe they can let him have a breather now and then.

All the same, kudos on not only having most of the action revolve around family man Williams and his family problems, but also having the even older Remar as Williams’ quasi-Alfred.

DC’s Luke Cage

Trouble is, while Black Lightning may stand apart from the rest of The CW shows in terms of age, it then gets lumbered with having to deal with all the same issues as Marvel’s Luke Cage. He’s going to stand up and look after his community (check). He’s got to demonstrate how to be a Good Black Man (check). He’s got to deal with gang violence (check). He’s got to survive encounters with the police without being shot on suspicion of being black (check).

There’s a certain “been there, done that” to the plot, if not the character himself.

Nevertheless, the show is different enough from the Arrowverse, which it fortunately doesn’t occupy so crossovers are off the cards for now, that Black Lightning doesn’t feel like YA superhero show. It could do with having better fights. It could do with having a different kind of enemy to face. But it’s a good start at least.

I just hope he doesn’t get a bad back.

Corporate
US TV

Review: Corporate 1×1 (US: Comedy Central)

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, Comedy Central

Normally, my go-to take-home going forward from a review of a Comedy Central comedy is that it would have been funny – or at least funnier – if I’d been smoking something illicit while watching, which is pretty much what most of the target audience will be doing.

However, Corporate would fire me for that, unless I managed to find a scapegoat instead.

Set in the completely evil conglomerate of ‘Hampton Deville’, Corporate is actually a marvellously dark and edgy piece that looks like something David Fincher might have done in his Fight Club days, given half a chance. It’s written by and stars Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman as two minor executives at the aforementioned evil corporation who are already on their own life’s Plan B and have seen all hope and joy leave their existences thanks to Hampton Deville and its corporate culture.

Episode one is ostensibly about the company’s launch of a new tablet “eight times as large as the iPad”, which goes wrong when someone in the social media department creates an ill-taste Tweet about hurricane victims. CEO Lance Reddick (The Wire, Fringe) is enraged so sets mid-tier execs Anne Dudek (House, Covert Affairs) and Adam Lustick to find the culprit. They in turn delegate to Ingebretson and Weisman, who react very differently to being given power for the first time in their five year careers at the company.

Office Space

The first episode’s jokes are mostly about corporate culture (eg who gets first dibs at bagels, how open you should be about stress caused by your job, who should be cc:ed v bcc:ed and why, how to get free cake), which are reminiscent naturally enough of Office Space and its TPS reports. It’s also done very well and raised plenty of laughs from me along the way.

However, this is clearly Office Space for the social media generation, and the show understands the Twitter and the Facebook well, as well as its limitations, with the second half a great take on the power of social media to create bad publicity – and how easy it is for a ‘social media guru’ to change that and for corporations to end up not actually doing anything.

The void

However, the show’s equally interested in darkness, depression and crushed dreams. Plenty are the jokes on suicide and the death of hope – indeed, the first episode is called ‘the void’.

“Plan B failed – time for Plan C”

“Suicide?”

“That’s right! You’re such a good friend to know that.”

Flailing against corporate culture? Don’t. You can’t fight it. No good deed will go unpunished. All you can do is climb to the top so that you’re no longer under anyone else’s thumb.

Again, here it’s as accurate as with its analysis of office politics…

Conclusion

The fact it’s attracted the cast it has should be enough to convince you that this is at least a cut above the normal Comedy Central output. The more you know of the corporate world, the funnier you’ll find it, I suspect. Bleakly funny.

The Bold Type
Airdates

When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including The Bold Type and The Mechanism

Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest global TV shows will air in the UK

This week, we’ve seen a few new acquisitions. Romper Stomper (Australia: Stan), the update to the old Russell Crowe movie about neo-Nazis, has been picked up by BBC Three to air some time this year. Meanwhile, Syfy’s picked up Outpost, Dean Devlin and Jonathan Glassner’s series about a strong female hero and the lone survivor of a race called ‘Blackbloods’ who discovers her magical powers as she seeks revenge. That should start some time late this year.

We also have a couple of premiere dates:

The Bold Type
THE BOLD TYPE – Freeform “The Bold Type” stars Matt Ward as Alex Crawford, Meghann Fahy as Sutton Brady, Aisha Dee as Kat Edison, Katie Stevens as Jane Sloan, Sam Page as Richard Hunter, and Melora Hardin as Jacqueline Carlyle. (Freeform/Justin Coit)

The Bold Type (US: Freeform; UK: Amazon)
Premiere date: Friday, February 9

Stupid old person’s idea of what smart, talented bold young women working on a magazine like Cosmo must be like. Virtually every line of dialogue is not just empowering, it tells you how empowering it is. Even though very little of it actually is empowering and usually simply reveals the ineptitude at real-life results of those with nothing much more than social media experience.

Episode reviews: 1

The Mechanism

The Mechanism (Netflix)
Premiere date: Friday, March 23

Character-driven original series inspired by real events in Brazil in which a small group of dogged investigators comes to discover the inner workings of a monstrous corruption scheme and the impact their pursuit has on everyone involved – including themselves.

DVD releases

Yes, bet you forgot I did these, too. Well, there’s one of note announced this week: BBC One’s Ghost in the Water.

Continue reading “When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including The Bold Type and The Mechanism”

Romper Stomper
News

The Bold Type, Romper Stomper acquired; grown-ish renewed; + more

Internet TV

UK TV

US TV

US TV show casting

  • Nikohl Boosheri and Stephen Conrad Moore promoted to regulars on Freeform’s The Bold Type
  • Alec Baldwin, Blythe Danner, Sara Rue, Mary McCormack and Robert Klein to guest on NBC’s Will & Grace
  • Katie Holmes to recur on Showtime’s Ray Donovan

New US TV shows

Filming Justice League
Weekly Wonder Woman

Weekly Wonder Woman: Justice League #37, Trinity #17, Batman #39, Wonder Woman/Conan #5

Yes, it’s Weekly Wonder Woman – keeping you up to date on pretty much anything involving DC Comics’ premier superheroine, including which alternative reality she’s in this week

Everyone’s starting to get back into the swing of things, now the New Year hangovers have passed, so the news is a little fuller this week.

Film news

Assuming you weren’t too traumatised by having seen it in the cinema, Justice League is now available to pre-order on Blu-Ray/DVD/download/microfiche/oil painting/tortoise. Due out next month in the US at least, the superset of promised features is:

  • Road to Justice
    Journey alongside DC comic creators as they explore over fifty years of the Justice League, from comic books to animated adventures to their cinematic debut.
  • Heart of Justice
    Discover the heart, soul and mind of the Justice League, as the cast and filmmakers share their admiration for DC’s iconic Trinity: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
  • Technology of the Justice League
    From Batman’s arsenal to Cyborg’s alien tech, interface with the Justice League database to learn their most advanced secrets.
  • Justice League: The New Heroes
    Join Ray Fisher on a personal tour to meet the newest members of the Justice League: Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg.
  • The Return of Superman
  • Bonus scenes not seen in cinemas
  • Steppenwolf the Conqueror
    Join actor Ciarán Hinds and the filmmakers as they reveal the story behind mankind’s ancient enemy and the Justice League’s greatest challenge.
  • Scene Studies: Revisiting the Amazons
    Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
  • Scene Studies: Wonder Woman’s Rescue
    Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
  • Scene Studies: Heroes Park
    Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
  • Scene Studies: The Tunnel Battle
    Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
  • Suit Up: The Look of the League
    Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson explores the innovation and artistry that goes into creating the costumes of DC’s iconic heroes.

As you can see, quite a lot of special features involving Wonder Woman and the Amazons, which is nice. No word on how many or what the deleted scenes are, but it’s probably not an entire Zac Snyder cut, so don’t set your hopes too high, fanboys.

Although no Oscar yet, Wonder Woman is up for a Maxwell Weinberg Publicist Showmanship Motion Picture Award. Nope, never heard of them before, either.

Meanwhile, Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are forming some kind of double act, it seems. As well as being interviewed together, they’re now doing charades on The Tonight Show:

Comics news

Not much really in terms of actual comics news. But nu52 Wonder Woman writer Brian Azzarello is off designing taps for pubs now. No, really, he is.

Comics reviews

Diana made no fewer than four appearances in comic books this week. In Justice League #37, Diana goes on TV. Again. Meanwhile, in Trinity #17, she (and one or more male pals) ends up powerless in an alternative universe last seen in an old comic and has to do a lot of fighting. Simultaneously, over in Batman #39, she (and one or more male pals) ends up powerless in an alternative universe last seen in an old comic and has to do a lot of fighting. And over in Wonder Woman/Conan #5, we finally learn if Diana and Yanna are the same woman.

Continue reading “Weekly Wonder Woman: Justice League #37, Trinity #17, Batman #39, Wonder Woman/Conan #5”