The next six episodes of The Tick are up on Amazon.


…and watched. Honestly, the only thing I was disappointed about was that when they used a bit of footage from the pilot, they didn’t fix the Tick suit. It really looks terrible compared to what they used for the rest of the series.

Back when the first half aired, it felt a bit unTicklike with its slow pace and in-depth character development, but it all paid off. Everyone got to be awesome.

Marvel’s Runaways, episodes 1-4

The first I heard of Runaways was when it was first licensed by Hulu. Since I had a cheap subscription to Marvel Unlimited, I went ahead and read the available mini-series, which, to quote Cat Grant, had “you look like the attractive yet non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show” written all over them.

The early cast photos showed that they’d nailed the look of the characters, but after watching it so far, I’d say they got everyone to nail their roles, too.

They’ve made some interesting choices with the series, and on the whole I think they’ll make for a better story. They’ve trimmed the cast by making Molly an orphan adopted by Gert’s parents, they’ve dialed back both the scope and absurdity of The Pride’s power and goals, some of the parents are actually sympathetic characters, and they’ve given Nico an older sister to make the initial awkwardness between the kids more grounded.

Also, I completely failed to recognize James Marsters as Chase’s dad.

Now, if they could just arrange a crossover with The Gifted involving Lauren Strucker, Karolina Dean, and a hot tub, I could die a happy man. (after Natalie Alyn Lind turns 18, please; feel free to substitute Amy Acker before then; oh, wait, she is 18; they can still put Amy Acker in the tub with them, though)

The Gifted, episodes 1 & 2

I hadn’t been planning to watch this, but Scott mentioned Amy Acker and Jamie Chung, and indicated that this was not the limit of its potential, hinting that it might not even suck as a show.

So far, it does not in fact suck, and the eye-candy department also includes 18-year-old Natalie Alyn Lind’s peaches-and-cream cutie Lauren Strucker and Emma Dumont’s hot/crazy Lorna Dane. And as I said to Scott after watching the two episodes back-to-back: “Whoever choreographs Lauren Strucker’s power poses is my new best friend.”

The odd thing for me, though, is the male cast. While watching the pilot, I kept thinking, “oh, it’s the guy from… wait, no, no it isn’t.” So, to be clear, this series does not star Robert Duncan McNeill, Corin Nemec, or Billy Zane.

Speedforce considered harmful…

…to my interest in the Flarrowverse.

When Arrow launched, I wasn’t really interested, and when I finally got around to trying to stream the first season, the only things that held my interest were the beautiful women and two excellent actors (John Barrowman and Paul Blackthorne).

Flash, at least, wasn’t dominated by an unsympathetic jackass with enough issues to staff a large psych ward, and not only has two of the most beautiful women on television (and many others…), but a fully-fleshed-out cast of interesting characters, including an awesome dad and a complex, well-portrayed villain (season one). Also some terrific tie-ins to the earlier Flash TV series.

The fly in the ointment has always been the portrayal of speedsters. Simply put, the writers have no idea how velocity and acceleration (and deceleration!) work, so they make up numbers that just don’t make sense, and write stories where Flash is simultaneously too fast and too slow.

A typical scenario might go like this: Barry is standing in Jitters with Joe/Iris/Cisco when something comes up, so he activates his speed and leaves, instantly vanishing from sight without being noticed. Seconds later, halfway across town, he’s facing a human being armed with a weapon that requires aiming (Captain Cold, Doctor Light, whatever), and spends a minute or two dodging blasts while the team comes up with a plan.

…instead of using super-speed to simply run up behind them and whack them on the head. Or pants them, tie their shoelaces together, wrap them in duct tape, and/or just write IDIOT on their foreheads with a Sharpie.

This is painful, but I’m willing to put up with a certain amount of it given the limitations of the format and the genre. Also, Wentworth Miller did an awesome snarky job as Captain Cold, so I’ll cut them some slack just for that. I genuinely like the cast, and the show embraces the essential absurdity of Flash’s comic-book history.

But I just finished streaming season 2 of Legends Of Tomorrow, and their handling of the Speedforce made the Flash writers look like super-geniuses. Specifically, in episode 14 (Moonshot):

Eobard Thawne, the season villain who’s desperately trying to outrun the fact that he was erased from existence in Flash, and who has repeatedly made expert use of his control over the Speedforce to spank the heroes like a bunch of spoiled children, is completely powerless when he’s not on Earth’s surface.

This is presented at first as if “he can’t do anything with his speed in zero-G”, allowing Ray to beat him in a fist-fight, but he’s still restricted to human speeds while they’re stranded on the moon, then again when he’s imprisoned on the Waverider (despite its artificial gravity). But he trivially vibrates out of his cell as soon as they’re back on Earth, something that never occurs to the idiots imprisoning him.

What’s J Watching?

The answer is “not much, really”. I bounced hard off of The Orville (which one of my friends actually thinks is great, proving that he’s taken one too many shots to the head (“Hi, Rory!”)), and there really doesn’t seem to be anything else on cable that sounds even vaguely interesting.

Restaurant To Another World
For the most part, nothing really happens in this well-drawn, slow-paced series about why a little hole-in-the-wall Tokyo restaurant really shuts down one day a week. Relationships between the owner/chef and his fantasy-world customers develop slowly, and it looks like there are even a few honest-to-gosh spoilers coming, but for the most part it just drifts along with diner-of-the-week stories and some rare mild fan-service. Next up: the restaurant gets a clothing-challenged second waitress.
Legends Of Tomorrow, season 2
Finally catching up on this show, and wondering why I bothered. I already knew most of what happens, the writers have a pretty shaky grasp of the historical eras the team visits, the main villain was more interesting when played by the other actor, Nate is dull even with powers, Vixen’s WWII-era attitudes appear only when convenient to the plot, etc, etc. I think I’m pretty much done with the Flarrowverse.
Mauser reminded me this existed and I never watched it. Short, fun, mostly stand-alone episodes, with cute character designs familiar to anyone who’s seen Hand Maid May et al. It’s a pleasant diversion.

Coming Soon

Kino’s Journey
The only new anime series that I have any interest in right now.
Alice & Zoroku
I really liked the first few episodes, but got sidetracked and haven’t gotten back to it yet. Definitely one worth finishing.
Sometime I’ll get around to marathoning the first season, and quite possibly the second. What little I’ve seen of it has been a decent reimagining of the comic, but I just haven’t been in the mood for it yet.

The Orville: meh

A couple weeks back, Brickmuppet mentioned the new Trek-ish series The Orville, “tentatively optimistic” after watching the first two episodes.

I was… less enthusiastic, and the only thing I really liked was seeing Adrianne Palicki out of uniform. Still, not every SF show can hit the ground running like SG-1, so I set my DVR to record it, which it promptly failed to do.

Fortunately, Hulu has it, so I was able to watch episode 3. Well, about half of it, until the stupid was too thick to scrape off the screen. There was one honest-to-gosh funny line out of the captain’s mouth, but I’ve already forgotten what it was about.

Fundamentally, the problem was that I had no investment in the setup (I hesitate to call it a “plot”) or the characters, and it was written like a bad ABC Afterschool Special.

Bortus was introduced as a member of a single-gender species, but this episode changes that to “all-male species capable of sexual reproduction without the help of females, who are quite rare but play no part in reproduction since they’re given sex-change operations at birth, because females are smaller and weaker, exactly like humans.” (which raises the question of how precisely they’re “female” to begin with…)

So, first they created a species that’s Not Like Us (which has all sorts of story potential), and then immediately made them Exactly Like Us But Gendercidal (which is a Women’s Studies dissertation). I stopped watching when Kelly tried to make her case in court based on applying a universal concept of “female” across species in a way that doesn’t even make sense for Earth, much less an SFnal universe.

Also, Alara Kitan is a terrible character, mostly because the concept is so poorly thought out that Halston Sage could be a terrific actress and still end up buried to her neck in manure. They might as well have named her One Trick Pony.

So, it’s not good SF, and it’s not good comedy. I don’t see any reason to watch the rest of the season.

The Tick, season 1

“Slow-paced”, “low-key”, and “restrained” are not words I expected to use to describe The Tick, but there we are. I marathoned episodes 2-6 when I got home last night, and it feels like they’re planning on ~20 episodes to resolve the main story arc with The Terror.

Not bad, but not at all what I expected based on the pilot.

Dear Hulu,

The one-time-only conversion option for my watchlist and history when I launch the new version of the app the first time is not only poorly explained, but user-hostile. I now have to manually convert my watchlist, show by show, and give up any history of what I’ve watched in any series.

Or just cancel. Tempting.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”