Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Diamond Dallas Page: Positively Living

Earlier this year three-time WCW World Champion, master of the Diamond Cutter and yoga sensei, Diamond Dallas Page received his long overdue home video biography from WWE with the release of Diamond Dallas Page: Positively Living (trailer). The biography is only a little over an hour, but it surprisingly hits almost all the notable points of his life and career, and the collection receives the standard extra feature treatment with several hours of bonus matches spanning his entire career.

The brief time spent on Page’s childhood years growing up is an inspirational watch as he explains how he had to overcome hurdles such as ADD, Dyslexia and a car wreck at age 12 that wrecked his knee. Page explains how the car wreck left only sport left for him to play was basketball and stated how he was awful at it initially but over many years of practice made the high school’s starting squad. From personal life to professional life it goes to show the theme here is hard work pays off.

I recall reading how DDP was in the night club business, and Page goes into how he spent most of his 20s running night clubs and experimented with wrestling briefly before an injury in his second match got him to exit the business for the time and go back to the club scene. Even though they are now divorced, many fans remember DDP’s ex-wife Kimberly being a big part of his career as his on-TV manager, and WWE interviewed her for the video and she goes on to state how they met at one of Page’s bars and how their relationship evolved.

I read Page’s autobiography, Positively Page, that came out all the way back when he was still in WCW in 2000 so I am a little familiar with his early life and how he broke into the business, but that was 17 years ago so this BluRay is a handy refresher and I gleamed many new things throughout. If you are unfamiliar with Page’s journey you may be surprised to learn he broke into the wrestling scene late, and did not make a TV debut until some connections from the night club scene landed him a manager gig in the AWA in 1987 when he was 30. They have clips of his manager tryout video which are awesomely-cheesy, and they are included in their entirety in the extras. WWE interviewed Scott Hall, Eric Bishoff, Terry Taylor and Goldust about meeting DDP in the clubs and helping him land his first job in the AWA.

DDP spent his first five years in the business as a manager in AWA, FCW and WCW, and even had a Wrestlemania VI cameo that DDP reveals on how it came to be. Hearing Page’s story on why he took up wrestling at age 35 and making his proper in-ring debut at the end of 1991 is one of the highlights of the documentary. It seems like an impossible task to start training at that age, but over the years Page kept plugging away and kept putting in the time to get better and the results are easily apparent over the years on how he became a top player in WCW. The documentary spends a little time with him progressing over this time, but the extra features are where it is more noticeable where they include a couple matches from each year of Page’s career.

Page’s memories and respect for Dusty Rhodes are among my favorite parts of the bio. Page loves him, and I was all ears for the few big Dusty stories Page peppers out throughout the biography on how Dusty helped him out and motivated him throughout his career. A lot of time is spent on Page emerging as a breakout main event star in WCW in 1997 by feuding with the nWo and his intense rivalry with Randy Savage that lead to a classic series of matches with him. Hearing Page relive his success with Macho Man had me nostalgic for that era and that rivalry was one of the few things WCW did right among their ‘Monday Night War’ success. Ditto with Page recounting his super-successful run teaming with Karl Malone to take on Dennis Rodman and Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach ‘98. I had no idea until hearing Page state here that it was WCW’s highest grossing PPV of all time.

The documentary moves along to DDP winning his first WCW World Title at Spring Stampede ‘99 and Page has a good tale on how he met his goal to reach that milestone. I was not so surprised Positively Living skips the final two years of his WCW career since that was when WCW was in a downward spiral to its demise, but there were still a few interesting DDP moments from that era I would have liked to hear Page comment officially on such as his other celebrity team-ups with Jay Leno and David Arquette and DDP’s time teaming with his friends Bam Bam Bigelow and Chris Kanyon in the Jersey Triad faction. Additionally, the Ready to Rumble film is a guilty pleasure of mine and I would have loved to hear DDP’s memories of being the primary WCW wrestler used in the movie. This clip from a shoot video interview will have to suffice instead.

His final year in his full time career where he jumped to WWE following the WCW buyout is briefly touched on, and Page tongue-in-cheek admits he was not too big on how the whole ‘stalker’ character was handled but stated he tried his best to make it work. I am a big fan of his ‘positive’ character he introduced later on in 2001 and DDP said he was too and how it was an amped up version of himself. Kimberly has a nice memory of Page walking in and out as a champion at Wrestlemania X8 was a good bookend to his career.

Fans of DDP knows Page has had a ton of success post-wrestling with his yoga business. DDP & Kimberly go into detail about forming the yoga business after yoga helped DDP recover from injuries and after a couple rough early years their hard work turned DDP Yoga into a big success. I am glad they do not gloss over this part of DDP’s life as it has been tremendous for him and the countless others he has helped in the proceeding years. I vividly recall hearing how DDP was starting his yoga business and immediately scoffed at it and all the clichés that go with yoga. Then I heard and saw the success stories (DDP helping Jake Roberts in this Netflix doc is must-see!) of it with wrestlers like Scott Hall and Jake Roberts. Finally, after hearing Chris Jericho vouch for it on how it helped him recover from a back injury last year I took the plunge and ordered the DDP Yoga DVDs when I was dealing with some shoulder issues. After a few weeks I was surprised at how much better the shoulder and my general well being improved. Now, a year later I still routinely do DDP Yoga three times a week.

The documentary has a nice final chapter where DDP and his current wife Brenda are interviewed about how they met and how DDP is a proud stepfather. The WWE production crew also capture DDP’s genuine raw reaction to Triple H calling him and informing him that he would be inducted into the 2016 Hall of Fame class in a emotional scene that once again proves that DDP’s mantra of hard work does indeed pay off. I went into a lot of detail than I anticipated for an hour long documentary, but DDP was one of my ‘Monday Night War’ favorites and for the most part I like how this biography was handled.

There are 22 matches to indulge in the extras, or 27 if you go the BluRay route. Again, I really like how the first several matches feature Page in his early part of his career teaming with other before-they-were-stars talent such as Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Raven, Cactus Jack and Buff Bagwell in the early 90s. DDP is very green, but the matches just go to show for far he improved over the years. He has some breakout matches from 1997 in here that established him as a main event player with bouts against Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Curt Hennig.

His standout PPV headlining encounter with Bill Goldberg from Halloween Havoc ‘98 is here in all its glory, and to this day I still think DDP got the most out of Goldberg in the ring. Both of DDP’s celebrity tag matches from 1998 are in here where he tags with Malone and Jay Leno. The match with Malone actually has some surprisingly decent action, and Jay Leno is wisely only used for comedy spots (minus his armbar of doom). Not-so-surprisingly his tag match with David Arquette is not included. A couple of excellent US Title matches with Bret Hart are however, as well as both matches that saw him lose and regain the title from Sting on the same night (I will never forget being there live for those two matches and going nuts for that first match against Sting!). The extras close with DDP’s successful European title defense against Christian at Wrestlemania X8.

I give Positively Living the highest of recommendations. Minus a few nitpicks mentioned above, I was really happy with the biography since it covers almost all the major parts of his personal and professional life thoroughly and it has nearly most of his major matches included as well as a few hidden gems. Whether you were an avid fan of DDP or not, his unorthodox journey and inspiring message is one that should be witnessed by all fans.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
Wrestlemania 32
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016

Saturday, June 10, 2017

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part Three

Previous TV Season Recaps – (2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16)

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 1 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 2 (Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Legion, Riverdale)

24: Legacy – The anti-terrorist hit show 24 is back with a new lead star in Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins). Legacy follows the same abbreviated format of the last season a few years prior where it chops the season length in half, but still retains the same ‘real time’ format of the show where everything takes place within an actual hour of time each episode. This benefits the show greatly since it eliminates a ton of the filler episodes past seasons of the show had to suffer through with throwaway mini-arcs on inconsequential plots.

It is a hard task to ask anyone to fill in the shoes for 24’s previous lead star, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), but Hawkins does a commendable as Eric Carter. Like Bauer, Carter winds up having an unbelievable day with an insane amount of terrorist acts he attempts to stop. This show has always been a guilty pleasure filled with at least a few action scenes of high TV production quality. It also hits all the same beats that dominate past seasons of 24 such as a new director of CTU (the fictional Counter-Terrorist Unit where everyone works) being introduced midway through the season, an inept CTU employee having to overcome their emotional drawbacks in a big moment, CTU getting attacked by the terrorists and finally, discovery of a mole inside CTU! Who is this deceptive traitor!? I use to hate these same notes 24 repeated ad naseum, but after nearly 10 seasons of the show they grew on me and I became to appreciate and expect them much like one would do the same by the unmasking of a Scooby-Doo villain. Grade: B+

South Park – Last year South Park succeeded in having their first season-long spanning storyline so creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone attempted to repeat the formula but with mixed results this go around. The primary storyline for this season is an ultimate online troll being on the loose and messing with the students of South Park Elementary. It winds up being a funny mystery leading up to the reveal, and how the online society of the most vile online trolls track down the South Park troll and come together to stop the Netherlands from unleashing their troll tracker that would spell certain worldwide doom. That story arc is fun to follow along with and indulge how it all plays out. The backup story of Cartman finding his first girlfriend and renouncing his bullying ways in the name of true love is also a hoot to keep up with.

One wrench that got thrown in for this season however was the 2016 US election. The election was also part of the season-long spanning arc, but Stone & Parker admitted in an interview on the Bill Simmons podcast they did not anticipate the outcome and had to do last minute rewrites and make drastic changes to the remaining episodes of the season as a result. It is apparent some parts of the greater season-long arc fizzle out a little bit and lose their muster after the election where South Park’s version of Donald Trump (who else, but Mr. Garrison) becomes President. The episodes are not disasters by any means, but lack the punch of the usual unapologetically offensive episodes of the show. The creators stated in the same interview they learned their lesson and plan on going back to self-contained story arcs in single episodes next season. Grade: B

Horace and Pete – This show is Louis C.K.’s take on a dark, twisted version of Cheers. If that caught your interest, stop reading now and immediately binge watch all 10 episodes. For everyone else, Horace (Louis C.K.) and Pete (Steve Buscemi) run a dive bar with their uncle, Pete (Alan Alda) and sister, Sylvia (Edie Falco). There is a lot of family drama transparent throughout the series that rears its ugly head in each episode as Horace and Pete want to keep the bar running while Sylvia wants to sell it to pay for her cancer operation. It is honestly hard to watch, but in a good way if that makes sense because it touches on a lot of deep family issues that I rarely see other shows go into and I imagine there must be at least a couple of the issues that are apparent here that should resonate with most on some level.

Between all the family drama there are much needed moments of levity with the family dealing with a regular set of customers in everyday conversations that may or may not have a point to them but are a delight to take in because of how wonderfully the dialogue is written. The show is filmed like a stage play with limited camera angles and no special effects which is a perfect complement to the dive bar setting. Almost all of the scenes take place either in the bar or in the apartment Horace & Pete reside in directly on top of the bar. Again, there is at least one or two rough scenes to take in each episode because Horace & Pete tackles issues unlike most other shows and does not hold anything back, especially with its ending that left me speechless. Highest of recommendations! Grade: A+

Stranger Things – This was the original series that rocked Netflix last year. Imagine a TV series version of the hit sci-fi film, Super 8 from several years ago and that is almost exactly what is Stranger Things. I love how it nails the early 80s setting I hold so dear. Poor Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) gets kidnapped by a mysterious creature, and now his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) team up with mysterious newcomer to town, Eleven (Millie Brown) to track down Will. Will’s older brother, Jonathon (Charlie Heaton) and his mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder) also go through their own unique journeys while tracking down Will. Ryder is in a word, awesome in her portrayal of gradually losing her mind while her home reveals clues to Jon’s whereabouts.

The actual sci-fi parts of the show dealing with the creature and alternate dimensions were a little bit on the weak side for me, and for whatever reason did not blow me away. I was more a fan of the family and Sheriff Hopper’s (David Harbour) journey piecing together the mystery and tracking down Will and taking in all the callbacks to the early 1980s setting and lifestyle. There is also a side story for Jon where he tries to win over love interest Nancy (Natalia Dyer) from the school jock that is a guilty pleasure trope of mine. I liked a lot of the characters and certain parts of the show, but I am not as infatuated with Stranger Things as most others. I am still happy to hear Netflix picked it up for a second season and plan to keep up with it like almost everyone else on Netflix. Grade: B

Summer Viewing Plans - TV viewing plans for the summer is to burn through the rest of Riverdale and catch up on a lot of HBO programs. The final season of Leftovers just wrapped up and I loved how season two ended so I am psyched to grind through that series. Of course I plan on eating up the latest season of Game of Thrones once that premieres within the next month. Finally, I hope to catch up on The Rock’s original HBO show Ballers I am a season and a half behind. If all goes according to plan, check back here for a summer TV recap blog!

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part Two

Previous TV Season Recaps – (2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 1 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow))

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 1 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 3 (24: Legacy, South Park, Horace & Pete, Stranger Things)

For part two of my annual year in review of TV I will be focusing on three Marvel TV properties, in addition to another show based off another comic book publisher.

Luke Cage – I am a big fan of the Luke Cage character portrayed by Mike Colter when he debuted in a supporting role in Jessica Jones last season. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled to see him get his own show. This is not a by-the-numbers, lighthearted villain-of-the-week superhero show. It is a darker take on the genre taking place in the gang-ruled streets of Harlem that has Cage trying to hide his powers and make an everyday living working multiple jobs. Life changes for Cage when a drive-by at his workplace barbershop spells the demise of his mentor. The rest of the season plays out more in a grand crime mystery caper than a superhero show. There are still plenty of enticing scuffles and brawls throughout the season, but the focus is on Cage tracking down several suspects while being on the run from an investigator hot on his tail in the form of Misty Knight (Simone Missick).

Watching the mystery unfold was fun to follow as I got to learn more facets about the cast such as Harlem’s lead gangster Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) and his right hand man Shades (Theo Rossi). Those two villains in particular were the most captivating antagonists among a slew of bigger players introduced this season. My only drawback with the debut season of Luke Cage is that it felt a few episodes too long and were hitting a few predictable clichés throughout the season that would have made for a tighter season if a couple episodes were cut out altogether. Regardless, this was a breath of fresh air from the Marvel Netflix formula, and I hope it sticks with it for future seasons. Grade: B+

Iron Fist – I was surprised to hear so much negativity about Iron Fist shortly after it debuted. Up until this series, the Marvel Netflix shows had a strong batting average. There is so much wrong with Iron Fist. The first couple of episodes are a slog to get through as star Danny Rand (Finn Jones) escapes back home to New York after training with monks for over a decade in a monastery to become the legendary ‘Iron Fist.’ He tries to reconnect with his siblings Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward (Tom Pelphrey) but the show spends the first couple episodes with the family dismissing him and casting him off in a rehab facility that was just a slog to get through and made for near-unwatchable television.

Eventually Danny gets out of the mental hospital and the show kind of gets on track for a couple episodes. Danny tags along with local martial arts teacher Colleen (Jessica Henwick). Unfortunately, Colleen gives Wally West a run for his money as ‘dopiest character’ of the year because her arc is written so terrible. She starts off the show as trying to help kids stay off the streets by joining her dojo, but learn later that she has an uncontrollable rage she likes to unleash in underground MMA fights. However, that arc magically disappears for the second half of the season without reason. The worst part for both Danny and Colleen is they both commit one of the worst comic book tropes of getting irked and declaring they are going to kill off their enemies only when it comes time to deliver on their promise like all good heroes they get reluctant and preach about not committing a crime. I can maybe let that slide once, but the duo repeatedly commit this awful comic book stereotype multiple times in the last several episode to the point that it is beyond a joke, and just blasphemous.

Speaking of villains, I was pretty high on the second season of Daredevil until they introduced the mystical Japanese ninjas known as ‘The Hand’ into the mix. For the unaware, they are the equivalent of the TMNT’s foot clan soldiers and Daredevil treated them as meaningless cannon fodder. Apparently, Marvel loved them so much they decided to double down on The Hand as the primary villains for Iron Fist. The bulk of the season is spent contradicting Daredevil by making The Hand appear as the ultimate threat, because…ninjas, but it is impossible to take them serious at all, and eventually they again become worthless cannon fodder. Most characters are written poorly that it is impossible to get behind anyone. The only couple of saving graces from this show being a straight up failure are Jessica Stroup and Rosario Dawson’s performances as Joy and Claire, respectively. I was a big fan of Stroup in The Following and she and Dawson are the only two that shine in this mess of a show. Grade: D

Legion – This show is officially part of the X-Men universe, but I would not blame you if you did not make the connection because as only a casual X-Men fan myself I did not notice any of the popular mutants from the acclaimed Marvel series here. It only seemed the term ‘mutants’ was only referenced a handful of times throughout the first season’s eight episodes. Legion is incredibly hard to follow. Mix X-Men, Split and Inception together and that is essentially Legion. Dan Stevens (David Haller) is the star of the show who gets locked in a mental facility as he learns he has split personalities and the ability to jump into other character’s dreams, and like Inception those dreams have layers and you can jump into multiple dimensions of dreams.

It all got extremely difficult to follow, but like Gotham I eventually turned my mind off and accepted whatever they threw my way. Being a FX show, Legion pushes the envelope with its content and there are some extra graphic scenes with the powers doing some lethal damage. For better or worse, the show evolved into ‘shock TV’ so I could see whatever jaw-dropping moment would transpire next. I had a very loose idea of what was going on by the end of the series, and I would benefit greatly from rewatching the Legion, but I have so many other shows to grind through. I will give this an unorthodox recommendation if you are into seeing a bunch of weird and crazy scenes for shock value alone with a mildly cohesive plot on top of it. Grade: B

Riverdale - I am only two episodes into this and cannot give a conclusive grade to the show based off the hit light-hearted high school comedy line of Archie comics I grew up with. This show is so not that, they bring over nearly the entire cast from the comics, but with a hard TVMA rating. Once it took me an episode to get over the fact that the cast is in their sophomore year of high school and everyone looks AT LEAST 10 years older, I instantly got hooked on the show. Riverdale takes the approach of Twin Peaks and Veronica Mars with a murder happening at the beginning of the season and the show spending the season trying to discover what really happened. The show stays topical by having new twists on characters that were not the case in the comics like certain sophomores being homosexual, having ADD or engaging in flings with teachers. I imagine there will be a few more to come once I get further along into the series. There is still a lot of the teeny-bop high school drama in here, but the show easily masks that underneath the big murder mystery at play and a cast that is well over high school age. I am intrigued and look forward to seeing how the rest of the season plays out. Grade: n/a

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

2016-17 TV Season Recap Part 1

Previous TV Season Recaps – (2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16)

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 2 (Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Legion, Riverdale)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 3 (24: Legacy, South Park, Horace & Pete, Stranger Things)

It is time for my annual TV season recap blog. Check out the links above to previous seasons in case you missed them. Like last year I wound up keeping up with a few too many TV shows so I will split this up into a few parts and link them above. For part one, I am going to focus on the four TV shows I followed based on DC Comics properties.

Gotham - If you thought last season of Gotham was off-the-rails, then be prepared for a whole new level of craziness for season three. I do not know where to start. How about with my only real qualm being, like in actual comics is that no one stays dead. Thanks to the science experiments of Hugo Strange (BD Wong), he keeps finding ways to bring back past fallen villains of the show, for better or worse. Yup, the writers found another way to bring back Fish Mooney (Jada Smith) for a few more episodes this season, and she is just as dreadful to endure as past seasons.

We do have a few new villains join the fray this season, and if you grew up with the classic animated Batman TV show you will be delighted to see Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel), Poison Ivy (Maggie Geha) and Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) join the mix of the ever-growing list of Gotham antagonists. The big foil this season is a blood virus that Mad Hatter unleashes upon the city of Gotham that turns people into blood-lusting lunatics. It affects a number of major and minor players on the show this season and watching them succumb/overcome the disease lead to some compelling television.

Other favorite parts of this season for me are the constant love/hate/love relationship between Penguin (Robin Taylor) and Riddler (Corey Smith). Both wind up playing the political field this season before declaring war on each other to amusing results. Another constant dynamic I enjoyed playing out through the season was Barb (Erin Richards) getting more twisted each episode as she bosses around Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and Butch (Drew Powell) to do her bidding to middling results. Once again, Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue nail the roles of the two primary detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Bullock is now the head of Gotham PD and Gordon starts out as a private detective hauling in baddies on his own terms. His season arc is unbelievable if I lay it all out for you now so you just have to tune in to see it. Finally, David Mazouz is really coming into his own this season as Bruce Wayne. He spends most of the season feuding with the underground Gotham society, the Court of Owls. I loved that comic arc from a few years ago and really dug Gotham’s take on that faction.

There is so much more that happened this season and other major characters I have not even touched on yet. It does get to be a bit much to keep track of, but last season I just said “screw it” and rolled with whatever Gotham threw in my face and let the recaps starting off each episode serve as a much-needed refresher. I very much enjoyed this season, and my only takeaways are Fish Mooney and a couple other minor villains that did not hit the mark of the many they introduced this season. Also, if you were following week-to-week like me then it got to be a bit difficult to keep tabs on everything since Gotham took two extended midseason breaks this season and I had trouble recalling if certain events transpired in specific seasons. Grade: A

The Flash - This is difficult to admit, but The Flash lost its way for its third season. Last season introduced Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) into the mix, and he just never clicked with the rest of the Star Labs crew. The writers of The Flash took this criticism to heart and doubled down on Wally this season by having him mope around the first several episodes about not having superpowers like the rest of the team. Then he finally gets powers and redubs himself Kid Flash and instantly becomes annoyingly arrogant. He is scripted to be as gut-wrenching as Spider-Man was in the disastrous Amazing Spider-Man 2 from a few years back. Wally West sir, you hereby are the runaway winner for my ‘dopiest character’ of all of TV this past year.

The third season of The Flash also doubles down into exploring the 52 Earths of the DC-Multiverse. If you do no recall from my recap from last season, there are 52 Earths/alternate realities where each one has its own version of Team Flash members. It seems now the writers are getting into a new comfort zone where if they need to write off a certain character they will bring in a new multi-verse doppelganger to take their place. Each season has had a different version of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), with season three’s being a very lighthearted, coffee addicted version who calls himself ‘HR.’ HR is a fun addition to the team, but by the end of season three there were so many different multi-verse versions of each character introduced that it got to be groan-inducing whenever they time jumped to a new multi-verse.

The primary villain for season three is the mysterious Savitar. An early season episode shows a flash-forward of Barry’s love of his life, Iris West (Candice Patton) meeting her demise at the hands of Savitar so Barry (Grant Gustin) and the rest of Team Flash spend the bulk of the season trying to prevent that from happening. How they get there and what they wind up doing to try and save Iris is an interesting journey, but it has severe consequences that wound up being a big turnoff and does not have me anticipating season four whatsoever since the ending (light spoilers ahead) essentially implies that the cringe-worthy Kid Flash will be taking over as the new protagonist. There are still a fair amount of decent episodes this season (the annual Christmas party is a feel-good scene that delivers again this season), but I could not help but shake this season as a real letdown. Grade: C

Arrow - This is a big redemption season of Arrow after a couple of good, but not great seasons. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) starts the season as the new mayor of Star City and he still somehow manages to moonlight as The Green Arrow in his downtime. With season four leaving the old Team Arrow in disarray, Oliver recruits several new vigilantes to take under his wing for season five. This reminded me of the not-so-desirable new recruits Gordon was in charge of in season two of Gotham as most of these new characters just did not cut it and they become early cannon fodder for season five’s primary antagonist, Prometheus (Josh Segarra). There was one likeable new recruit though that stayed on board the entire season with the codename Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez), and I dug his story arc as he wound up teaming with Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) for most of the season and the two meshed well together so much that I was always glued to my device whenever the two were onscreen.

Prometheus proves to be one of the major villains that Ollie has ever encountered as the two have several impactful moments throughout the season. They manage to outdo themselves in their final confrontation in a pivotal showdown between the two that had me in goosebumps throughout. Fans that follow Arrow every year know that each episode has flashbacks that lay out what happen each year that Oliver was away for the five years before returning to town in Arrow’s first episode. For the fifth year of Arrow flashbacks Ollie is in Russia teaming up with the Russian gang known as Bratva and his antics there all tie in to how he winds up back at Star City at the very beginning of Arrow. The final flashback scene is another powerful moment that combined with Green Arrow and Prometheus’s final showdown as one of the best season finales in the history of a TV superhero show and capped off one of the best seasons of Arrow yet. Grade: A

Legends of Tomorrow - The show featuring the castoffs from Arrow and Flash returns for a slightly more streamlined second season. Instead of focusing on a huge superhero roster of 10, they slimmed the team down to seven Legends this season due to how the first season wrapped up. The season starts off with team captain, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) lost in time and Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz) taking over the captain’s chair to lead the Legends to track Rip down.

Season two has a new team of former Flash and Arrow villains dubbed the Legion of Doom (Whaaaaaaaat a rush!) consisting of Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). I was a fan of these guys before, so seeing them team up and intentionally ham up the evil villain factor made them the perfect foils for the lighthearted Legends. This was a much improved season that stayed on point better, did not feature love triangle plots that overstayed their welcome and a better group of antagonists. The Civil War zombies episode I imagine will be a hit with a certain audience. Even though they improved a lot this season I would still state Legends of Tomorrow is not a top tier superhero show, as even with a slimmed down roster, there was still a lot to keep track of, and new Legend member Steel (Nick Zano) is a little too cheesy and requires a high tolerance level. Grade: B

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television