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Josh Reviews the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths!

I have not previously watched even a single second of any of the CW’s many DC Universe (“Arrowverse”) shows.  But after reading for months about their Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover mini-series, I just couldn’t stay away.  The CW’s Crisis is a five-episode crossover between their DC shows Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman, based of course on the twelve-issue mini-series from 1985-1986, written by Marc Wolfman and pencilled by George Pérez.  The first three episodes of the CW’s Crisis crossover aired this past week, with parts four and five coming in January.  I had a lot of fun watching this!

The coolest aspect of this crossover — and what made it a must-watch for me — was that this Crisis crossover was more expansive than just an assembling of characters from the CW’s shows.  I read an interview with the show’s creators in which they spoke of wanting their Crisis on Infinite Earths to be more than just Crisis on the CW shows.  I was super excited to read that actors from a variety of other film and TV versions of the DC heroes would be involved in this crossover.  Watching this mini-series, I was impressed right from the get-go with how broadly they’d embraced that concept…

… Because only a few moments into the first episode, I almost fell off my couch when I saw Robert Wuhl, reprising his role as Alexander Knox from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film!  Holy shit!  What a fun and surprising moment!

The original Crisis on Infinite Earths comic book series was all about the concept of the “multiverse” — the idea that there are an infinite number of alternate realities, different versions of Earth and the DC characters.  In Crisis, the villainous Anti-Monitor set out to destroy the DC Multiverse.  From what I’ve read, these CW series had long-since leaned into the idea of a multiverse.  (Supergirl, for instance, takes place on an alternate universe than the setting of Arrow and Flash… and previous crossover episodes had already allowed these characters to cross universes and meet.)  Watching this crossover, it was fun to finally get a taste of the many great actors portraying DC characters from all of these CW series.  But the main draw, for me, was all of the fantastic connections to OTHER versions of these DC characters, and the opportunity to see so many actors from other TV series and films, stretching back years, who came back to reprise their characters for this crossover.

Let’s start with Kevin Conroy, who was the amazing voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and many subsequent DC animated shows and films.  Here in this crossover, … [continued]

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Josh Bids Farewell to Smallville!

It’s pretty hard to believe that Smallville has been on the air for ten years, and I am even a little bit more astonished that I’ve been watching the show for pretty much all of those ten years!  From the very beginning, I have found watching Smallville to be a somewhat frustrating endeavor.  I’d be hard pressed to name a show that’s been so wildly inconsistent in quality.  A spectacular, exciting, complex episode will be followed by an agonizingly painful, awkward, juvenile installment.  But the good episodes have been good enough to somehow keep me watching even through the bad ones (and there have been plenty of bad ones).

Smallville is probably the best argument for the strength of the British TV model (and the increasingly common HBO/cable model) of shorter (8-12 episode) seasons rather than the standard American network TV seasons of 20-24 episodes.  Over the years I’ve read fans writing off this season or that season of Smallville as garbage, while praising other years.  Personally, I think pretty much every season of the show has had merit, and has had some great episodes.  But boy oh boy have I felt (right from season one) that the story-lines were padded and stretched FAAAAR beyond what made any logical narrative sense.  The years and years of yes-they’re-a-couple, no-they’re-not-a-couple Clark Kent/Lana Lang soap opera antics is the most annoying example of this, but even in the later, more focused seasons this has been a problem.  The show actually found interesting ways to incorporate Doomsday and General Zod as villains (in seasons 8 and 9, respectively), but by making us wait through the WHOLE long season for Clark and his Big Bad villains to finally come to loggerheads stretched my patience well past the breaking point.  Out of the ten seasons of Smallville, I’d say there’s probably a terrific four year-run of a great super-hero show.

That is not a very good record!  But Smallville did have a number of moments of real greatness, and those moments kept me from ever giving up entirely on the series.  There have been some episodes that have been among the very best live-action depictions of super-heroics that I’ve ever seen, in movies or on TV.  (The season two episode, “Rosetta,” guest-starring Christopher Reeve comes to mind, and the show consistently did season-finales like nobody’s business.)  The visual effects are not great, but they’ve been good enough to be decently entertaining week in and week out.  But when the show was great, it wasn’t because of visual effects, it was because they found a sweet spot between incorporating aspects of the Superman mythology while keeping the over-all narrative fun, engaging, and accessible.

When Smallville was … [continued]