January is generally known as the midseason mark for the traditional broadcast network television season. And as I was checking to see when the handful of “Big 5” shows that I watch would be returning from their winter hiatus, I realized that all but one (NBC’s Will & Grace) were CW shows. So I thought it would be a perfect time to take a deeper look at a few of them and see just what they’ve been doing so right by me this season.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
The Legends started a new mission for their 4th season, and it has revitalized the show by letting the Legends loosen up and have a little bit of fun (amidst the always constant ripple of tragedy and loss that is woven into the shows DNA, of course). Now tasked with tracking down a variety of magical creatures they accidentally let loose on the timeline, almost each episode this season has had the team paying homage to a classic pop culture genre trope. Including, but not limited to: fighting a kaiju in 1950’s Japan, rescuing traumatized teens at an 80’s summer camp and dealing with a demonic doll in 19th century New Orleans.
The highlight though, was the midseason finale where, due to timeline shenanigans, the Legends team kept getting rebooted in the mold of iconic tv shows, first as the A-Team-esque “Custodians of the Chronology”, next as the Charlie’s Angels-inspired “Sirens of Space-Time” and then finally being Muppet-ized as the “Puppets of Tomorrow”. And each of these iterations came with their own spot-on opening credits.
And all this rebooting apparently made them unavailable for the annual crossover with the rest of the CW’s “Arrowverse” shows, but they still managed time to get in a sly meta-reference about it that went a little something like:
Ray: “Oh look, we’ve got missed calls from Flash, Green Arrow, and Supergirl…sounds like it’s annual crossover time!”
Nate: “Ugh…HARD pass.”
A little obvious, yes, but enjoyable nonetheless. Alas, LOT is currently on what is one of the more longer midseason hiatuses on record, having aired it’s mid-season finale in November, it won’t be returning until APRIL. (*sad trombone*)
The CW gave this struggling reboot a shot at a second season, and the creators have not been one to waste the opportunity. Amping up the excess, kicking up the camp, and stopping just before toppling over into parody, Dynasty came back ready to play (AND with a more proper opening credits sequence, to boot).
Some of the more enjoyable sequences they’ve cooked up this season would’ve seemed totally out of place last season. Like when Fallon got bonked on the head during a windstorm and then had a fever dream where she and the rest of the Carrington clan were the characters from the Wizard of Oz…or when Sammy Jo and Kirby held nanny interviews that were, in their own words, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting meets American Ninja Warrior”.
And a bevy of bonus points are bestowed for allowing Fallon to constantly refer to the new “Cristal” in Blake’s life (with whom he has taken up with following the death of his wife, the OG Cristal, in the season one finale) as, literally “New Cristal” and “Cristal 2.0”. Ah, never change, Fallon.
This show is slowly but surely heading into bonkers-ville, but I am here for it. Although it is getting hard to believe that there could be so much murder, corruption, evil cults, untimely deaths, drug trafficking, blackmail, horrible parenting, unconstitutional imprisonment, gang violence, teen crime solving and stupid choices by stupid people (Archie), in one (supposedly) typical small town. However, seeing as how Riverdale does always seem to be of a land steeped in fantasy (where it’s every season every day, and 1955, 1986, and 2019 all at the same time), I wouldn’t be surprised if they revealed it only exists as part of some alternate universe/reality.
But back to Riverdale, the show. Let’s just take a moment to recognize one Miss Veronica Lodge, for following in such noted footsteps as Beverly Hills 90210’s Valerie Malone and Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass as television’s latest, totally-believable, teen nightclub owner/operator. Because if you think being a junior in high school is hard enough, try doing that during the day AND running a speakeasy every night AND finding the time to devise and execute the prison breakout of her wrongfully accused beau, ALL WHILE investigating her father’s illicit drug operations. Good thing she decided to let Cheryl Blossom take over as Student Body president, or else she might’ve spread herself a little thin.
Or maybe not, because I’m half-convinced that none of the teens actually attend classes anymore, since they all have such time-consuming, adult-esque side-hustles, many of which would be considered full-time jobs in the real world. Like: bar managing (Reggie), club headlining (Josie), cat burglary (Cheryl and Toni), playing house mother to wayward teens (Betty) or joining their bestie on weeks-long character-building walkabout (Jughead). The only exceptions are Kevin and Moose, who’ve been saddled with a very All-American, teen-centric pursuit – the school’s ROTC program. But don’t be fooled – since their side hustle is actually each other, I’m pretty sure being in the ROTC is just the easiest way for them to frequently see each other’s hotness in uniform.
And you also have to hand it to Riverdale for being quite possibly the only show that has ever staged a father/daughter reunion as an homage to The Silence Of The Lambs, which they just did when Riverdale’s own Nancy Drew-with-a-death-wish, Betty Cooper, went to visit her serial killer dad Hal (aka The Black Hood) in prison. Y’know, just typical Riverdale stuff.
Well, I think this all makes it pretty simple and clear – I’m drawn to these shows and the way they’ve been upping the fun factor, staying not-so-real, and just taking crazy chances — and the CW is pretty much the only big network currently at home in that wheelhouse. So, keep it up Cee-Dubs, and you’ll keep me coming back for more!