In Review: Legends of Tomorrow, Episode 1 “Pilot”

I really want this series to be better than this pilot.

Legends of Tomorrow, Episode 1 “Pilot” Broadcast on January 21, 2016

Written by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg & Phil Klemmer

Directed by Glen Winter

London, 2166: The Second Blitz. The city is aflame as a ship descends. It’s chaos on the ground, with laser blasts, explosions, and death. Narration begins from Rip Hunter with the arrival of Vandal Savage. He and two of his shock troopers come upon a mother and a six year old. She stands in defiance before the warlord and is shot. The boy’s fate is even more chilling. In the Time Masters’ Council, Rip Hunter stands before his peers asking to alter time to stop Savage from destroying the human race. There are some worried responses, but he ends up taking a ship. Consulting his ship’s A.I. — Gideon, he boards the ship and streaks off to gather allies. Cue opening title sequence.

First is the Atom who’s on a mission for Green Arrow. Next is Sara Lance in Tibet, followed by Firestorm in Pittsburgh; after separating, Jefferson and Professor Stein begin to argue about their fighting technique before they’re “lit up” by Hunter. Hawkman and Hawkgirl are quickly acquired, with Captain Cold and Heat Wave next. Atop a skyscraper, the heroes and two villains awaken. Rip tells them he needs their help in saving the human race by stopping Savage. The hawks say that’s not possible as they, along with Arrow and the Flash, destroyed him. “And therein lies the problem,” Rip says. “Unless you or Mr. Hall delivers the death blow, Savage can be restored with but a single cell.” Cold and Wave want out, but Hunter shows them a massive hologram of the earth’s fiery future. After the ghastly images, Hunter tells them that in the future they’re all considered legends for what they do, and that their assistance is needed now. He produces a business card, which the professor takes, and says to meet him at the stated address in thirty-six hours if they’re interested. He walks away and the first commercial break occurs.

This episode sets up the series in a quick 43 minutes: the audience gets the premise, sees the heroes in action, and hears Rip’s appeal to them, all before the first commercial break. Once back from the break, each character — or pair — is shown thinking about joining up with their reasons stated. It was good to see that not every character is instantly sold on signing up, along with one taken against their will. Sadly, once arriving in 1975 this is pretty rote storytelling with little to no surprises for new or old fans. The origin of Vandal is given, but if you’re a fan of The Flash or Arrow, that tale was told before Christmas. There’s also a lot of story with the Hawks, which, again, was told before Christmas. Granted, this is necessary storytelling for new viewers, but it came off very flat. Once in 1975 the group is separated, with one team meeting with a familiar face (again, before Christmas) and it is this character that delivers the one surprise of the episode. Once given, it’s every storytelling cliche with what this character says and whom their words affect. The villain of the episode looks terrible; he’s supposed to be futuristic, but looks like a discount Halloween costume. I’m hoping this character exits the series quickly. The last twenty minutes are very predictable, but, knowing that things have to be set up to get the series rolling, some of it can be forgiven.

The good: Victor Garber (fun when he’s flustered), Brandon Routh (who projects intelligence and innocence wonderfully), Caity Lotz (who steals a good portion of a scene in a bar), Dominic Purcell (who is magnificent as thugish and evil), and Wentworth Miller (whose every line drips with scheming sarcasm), and Franz Drameh (who gets a fantastic scene with the prof in the final act). There are some very fun lines, especially from Rory, and excellent choice of name for the time ship, a fun reappearance (or is that first appearance?) of Gideon, and the closing tease as to what Vandal is up to are also good.

Fun lines: “What’s this Randal guy gotta do with us?”, “…You’re legends,” “You took the words right out of my mouth,” “Oh, I ain’t judging,” and “I love the seventies!”

The bad: A predictable script, bad design on the time ship, horrendous design on the villain, and some leaden performances from the Hawks.

The final line: I’m a junkie, so I’ll be back, but I really want this series to be better than this pilot. Overall grade: C+

 

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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