So the first episode of 'DC's Legends of Tomorrow premiered Thursday, 1/21/16. And what did we get?
Well, what did we expect to get? 'The Flash' and 'Arrow' have been setting up the new series with their own storylines. It started last season on 'The Flash' when Captain Cold and Heat Wave were brought in. Rip Hunter got a name check in the season 1 finale. Since then, 'The Flash' has given us Victor Garber as one half of Firestorm, killed off the other half (Ronnie Raymond), and brought in the new second half of Firestorm, Jefferson "Jax" Jackson (Franz Drameh).
On 'Arrow', the Atom has been around since last season. White Canary is the former Black Canary, resurrected by the Lazarus Pit belonging to Ra's al Ghul.
This season, Kendra Saunders became a main character's girlfriend on 'The Flash'. 'Flash' and 'Arrow' had a two-night crossover which confirmed she was the comic book's Hawkgirl. And brought in Hawkman and Vandal Savage.
So we're not seeing anyone particularly new here, other than Arthur Darvill putting a face to Rip Hunter, Time Master. So what's the new premise?
Vandal Savage (Caspar Crump), an immortal villain, has spent millennia building up his secret empire. By the year 2166, he now conquers Earth. He makes the mistake of killing the wife and child of Rip Hunter... Time Master! When the other Time Masters won't let Rip shut down Vandal via time travel, he goes back to 2016 and recruits the aforementioned eight super-types. Our recruits are:
The Atom - Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh). Has an exo-suit with hard-light beams and flight capability, and the ability to shrink to one inch tall.
White Canary - Sara Lance (Caty Loitz). Formerly a vigilante calling herself Black Canary, Sara trained with the League of Assassins and is a highly-proficient martial artist.
Firestorm - Martin Stein and Jax Jackson. Due to an atomic accident, they can merge into one being, Firestorm, who can fly and fire bursts of flame.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl - Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall (Ciera Renee and Falk Hentschel). Originally doomed lovers in ancient Egypt, they gain a form of immortality via reincarnation after exposure to meteors. They can grow big wings on their backs, fight with medieval weaponry, and more-or-less have the memories of their former 200+ lives as warriors.
Captain Cold and Heat Wave - Len Snart and Mick Rory (Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell). Len is a cool, calm scheming type, and Mick is a hotheaded pyromaniac and arsonist. They wield weapons capable of firing cold and heat beams, respectively.
Rip wants them because like the title says, he claims that they will become legends. Turns out that they're not, however. As is eventually revealed, they're lost in the annals of history without a ripple, so Rip recruited them because he wouldn't disturb the timeline. They travel through time in Rip's ship, Waverider, trying to track down Vandal in history and undermine his plans to accumulate power so that he can never rise to power in 2166. Navigating their course is an AI, Gideon (Amy Pemberton).
All this has to be info dumped in the pilot episode. So we get about two minutes per character or pairing with a brief introduction. Then Rip stuns them and tells them his story. Then he gives them time to think it over and we get another minute or two per character or pairing. They all decide to go along for reasons of their own except for Jax, so Professor Stein drugs him and hauls him aboard. The Legends go back to 1975 to talk to a history professor named Boardman who is an expert on Vandal. Turns out he's the son of Kendra and Carter in their 1939 reincarnations He ends up dead after the Time Masters discover Rip has gone rogue and sent a bounty hunter after him.
The scenes with Boardman are probably the worst. The character briefly appeared in the aforementioned two-night crossover with a recorded video message. Here he has to convince us he's the long-lost son of two characters who are much younger than him. It doesn't work out very well, mostly because Kendra and Carter are the latecomers to the party and we don't really know them enough to feel their loss.
Once Waverider takes some damage and lies low in the timestream, Rip tells the team the truth about how they're D-listers lost to history that he picked because they're temporally expendable. Each of the characters/pairings gets another minute or two each, and then they all decide to stay on anyway. And they're off to... Norway? where Vandal in 1975 is stealing a nuclear missile.
Most of the fun, if you can stand the overload, is dealing with nine main characters and a voice actor (Pemberton) who all get more-or-less equal time. As noted, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are the weak parts of the equation. Hertschel isn't that emotive an actor and Renee is a relative newbie as an actress, playing... a relative newbie as a superhero because she doesn't have all of her reincarnated memories yet. We don't know the characters very well, so we don't care much about them.
Franz Drameh is something of an unknown quality. Jax seems pretty comfortable teaming up with the guy who just drugged him into coming along. He's supposed to be the everyman character of the team, who complains about all the crazy weirdness.
Victor Garber is an old pro as an actor, and he's perfectly comfortable spouting technobabble, casually dissing former student Ray who he doesn't remember, drugging his Firestorm other half, or talking about how he wants to go out with one last great adventure.
Brandon Routh is the gee-gosh Boy Scout type. He gets to emote a lot more than he did in 'Superman Returns', and his character is the one who gets most of the development. Ray has to deal with feelings of inadequacy because he wasn't recently believed dead for several months and no one seemed to notice or care.
Arthur Darvill is... okay. He brings the snark when necessary but he's not quite as good as the emotive moments.
The real winners are Caity Loitz, who gets a lot more to do here than she ever did on 'Arrow'. A former assassin, she's looking to redeem herself. But she isn't adverse to breaking the wrists of any man who tries to hit on her, either.
And... Miller and Purcell. Miller plays Captain Cold as a villain with a tarnished heart of gold who is always looking for an angle. Purcell's Heat Wave is just a nutcase. He speaks his mind, isn't particularly smart, and is happy to start punching people or setting them on fire if they get in his way.
Is the series any good? Hard to judge by just one episode, particularly a premiere. But it's worth checking out. It's certainly no worse than 'Heroes Reborn', and that show is already gone. The CW is heavily promoting it, and they'll probably cross it over with 'The Flash' and 'Arrow' somewhere this year. Be warned: rumor has it that if the show gets a second season, they'll use a rotating cast. So the cast this series won't be the cast next series.
Thursday at 8/7 central in the U.S. Check it out.