Comic Book TV: A look back at the 2014 – 2015 season

20142015TVSHCBIt has been pretty quite for the last few weeks in terms of comic book TV Shows, maybe a little too quiet if you need that weekly fix. Whilst we all know it shan’t last too long and have an idea of what is returning and what is being added to the schedule — We thought we would look back at the crammed last season of TV. Which featured Marvel’s offerings on ABC in Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead is still very much a staple of AMC’s line up but the clear winner (if one had to be picked) would have to be DC’s shows that have been spread around the schedule from WB’s own CW network to Gotham on Fox.

Agent Carter – Season One (ABC – 8 Episodes)

With a much more compact episode order this meant that the show had a lot more production value to play around with than it’s sister show Agents of Shield, though Agent Carter (Again played by Hayley Atwell) remains very much a grounded period piece considering the source material. It very much tied together elements of the MCU from Captain America, Shield and even Black Widow. Whilst also introducing new elements from those comics such as Edwin Jarvis and Leviathan lead by Doctor Faustus.

Where it worked best was when it played around with the newer material, conversely where it felt odd was when it riffed on Captain America: The First Avenger, however one of the better episodes — The Iron Ceiling — is where Peggy Carter has to go back out on to the field, meeting up with the Howling Commandos and investigating the red room. But overall Peggy’s arc is an post-war espionage tale about a career minded and heroic woman trying to break the glass ceiling in a male dominated profession.

With a short run time that can be burned through in a day, particularly great performances from the cast involved, fairly thrilling post war espionage drama with some points which don’t always quite hit all the high notes but with lot’s of avenues still left for the show to play with mainly the transition of SSR into S.H.I.E.L.D under Peggy’s stewardship – Gary Kane.

[Notes: Renewed for Season Two]

Agents of Shield – Season Two (ABC – 22 Episodes)

Superficially Agents of SHIELD is a good series and yet it does suffer from pacing due to always playing catch up with the MCU films.

While the Winter Soldier crossover dropped in season one was good and the addition of Hydra steered the show in the right direction, in this second season crossing over with Age of Ultron was extremely poor to the point of pointlessness, and only distracted from the ongoing plot threads like the emergence of Inhumans in the populace (but did explain where fury got the helicarrier).

Despite this it was still an entertaining series and has improved in scope from the first series. Moving away from requiring to tie in so closely (or just better tie ins) will help future seasons a lot. The filler due to this is what really damages the series – David Gladman.

[Notes: Renewed for Season Three]

Arrow – Season Three (The CW – 23 Episodes)

Ollie (Steven Amell) and team arrow had a fair bit to live up to this season, after such a strong sophomore outing, but for me, the series piqued a little too early with that stunning midseason finale. From then on things became a little predictable, although with the spotlight shifting to the other members of the team, it was interesting to see the change in their dynamic with Ollie out of the picture.

The show continued with the same dual narrative structure established in the first two seasons, with the main thread focussing on Oliver’s battle with Matt Nable’s Ra’s Al Ghul, and the second recounting more of his adventures in the Far East after leaving Liang Yu. Trust was the season’s overarching theme with Ollie’s compartmentalisation causing issues within the team and in his relationship with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). Trust was also at the heart of Thea (Willa Holland, The OC) and Malcolm’s (John Barrowman, Torchwood) relationship and so too that of Det. Lance (Paul Blackthorne, 24) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy, A Nightmare on Elm Street – 2010), who gradually grew into her Black Canary role.

A plethora of other heroes and villains from the DC pantheon also entered the fray (most notably Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer/The Atom), continuing the industrious world building going on in both CW shows, and providing just enough geek-out moments to compensate for some rather questionable acting in places, and rather cheap looking production values, including some pretty jerky CGI – Martin Doyle.

[Notes: Renewed for Season Three and Spin Off ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Announced]

Constantine – Season One (NBC – 13 Episodes)

This show made up for all the discrepancies in the Keanu Reeves film (admittedly, I loved the film).

Matt Ryan WAS John Constantine, the con man and conjuror of the dark arts. Now like all shows there was a central story arc, which could have been ripped directly from the Hellblazer comics.

Bringing in all the characters from “the Newcastle incident”, and if it was given the chance to finish we would have seen a great story unfold. Although each week there was a secondary story which was used to develop the characters like his kinda-sidekick — Zedd (Angélica Celaya).

In my opinion this show had a feel similar to seasons 2 – 4 of supernatural, where we see our protagonist battle an array of hellspawn, demons and ghosts.

I will be sad to see that this will join the ranks of such greats as Firefly, Dredd and a Thomas Jane Punisher sequel – Chris Jobson.

[Notes: Not Renewed]

The Flash – Season One (The CW – 23 Episodes)

We’re tripping over comic-based shows these days, but none of them have been as true to their book as much as The Flash.

Always one of the brightest corners of the DCU, Central City has been brought to life in a show that just gets it so, so right.

Grant Gustin is just perfect as the youthful, wide-eyed Barry Allen, while his Rogue’s Gallery have been heavily mined to great effect. I honestly still can’t believe I’m watching a hit TV show that has Professor Zoom, Gorilla Grodd and Captain Cold in it.

Okay, I despise Iris West (Candice Patton) with a passion, but apart from that, The Flash is perfect – Jules Boyle.

[Notes: Renewed for Season Two and Spin Off ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ Announced]

Gotham – Season One (FOX – 22 Episodes)

Well this appears to be a bit of a Marmite show, even within the echelons of the writing staff of BCP.

I am on the side that enjoyed the show, following the day to day grunt work of detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie – Southland, The OC). James quickly sets himself up as the cop above reproach battle against a sea of corruption.

His only allies who are hesitant to join his crusade are his partner, Bullock (Donal Logue – Sons of Anarchy, Blade, Grounded for Life) and eventually his Captain, Sarah Essen (Zabrayna Guevara – Burn Notice).

Every episode has had a number of easter eggs that fans quickly pick up on and many closely critique, but all round it can be enjoyable if only as a fun genre TV show not to be taken as canon. I personally look forward to the second season of this Batman inspired show – Chris Jobson.

[Notes: Renewed for Season Two]

iZombie – Season One (The CW – 13 Episodes)

iZombie seemed like a odd choice of comic series to be picked up for a show, having been based on a Vertigo mini-series by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred. This series was fairly obscure (compared to say The Flash) and had lots of left field humour.

Yet CW just about managed to pull it off, giving us yet another procedural TV show, in the mould of Pushing Daisies or Dead Like Me. Which seemed like a good fit for making the source material find it’s feet with a more mainstream audience.

Rose McIver (Power Rangers: RPM,  Once Upon a Time, Masters of Sex) plays the lead character Liv, a fairly normal girl who is the only survivor of a party that was massacred by zombies, she finds that this has left her as one of the undead and this brings with it awkward consequences as she begins to look like one of the undead with more of a pale gothic pallor, loses her job and becomes more cynical and divided from her peers. Rather than give in to her hunger for human flesh she takes up a job in a morgue, which offers her a supply of bodies and satiate her hunger with brains and the hook for the show is that she can see and feel their thoughts. Which helps her to unravel their cases.

Having the show as a procedural is what makes it more suitable for the screen and yet is far from original at this point, yet it is a reasonably fun show with an interesting lead character and some interesting performances – Gary Kane.

[Notes: Renewed for Season Two]

The Walking Dead – Season Five (AMC – 16 Episodes)

After a slow-paced fourth season that rubbed a large portion of the long-time viewership the wrong way, TWD took the bull by the horns in season five and threw together some exciting, dramatic set pieces – the escape from Terminus, the showdown at the Hospital – as well as plenty of the quieter, character-based moments that made the early seasons so damn compelling.

While it still remains fairly hit-or-miss overall, the latter half of the series set in Alexandria was absolute gold, introducing some compelling new characters (Aaron in particular has been utterly fantastic) and thrusting the group into a brand new dynamic as part of what appeared – initially, at least – to be a safe, stable community. Ha.

While a lot of the fan community are screaming out for Negan, I’m actually enjoying the pacing of the show thus far. Tense, emotional, and with a sense of genuine risk throughout (much like HBO’s Game of Thrones, nobody ever really feels safe here), The Walking Dead has done an admirable job of silencing its critics with this latest season, and I for one can’t wait for season six – Ceej.

[Notes: Renewed for Season Six and Spin ‘Off Fear The Walking Dead’ Announced]

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