The first half of the television season is drawing to a close and with most of the comic book/superhero shows off this week, it’s a good opportunity to take step back and judge their progress.
Jessica Jones is not on this list for spoiler reasons, but if you have not seen it yet, do so. It is in a class by itself.
Arrow, fourth season The CW
Overview: After a grim third season, Arrow has spent much of the time undoing the mistakes of that year. Sara is no longer dead. The Olicity ship is sailing along nicely. Oliver is trying to save Star City in ways that don’t always involve shooting arrows in something (or someone). Being a hero is still serious stuff thanks to Neal McDonough’s turn as this year’s heavy, Damian Dhark, but that sense of optimism and family has returned. It’s been dragged down setting up January’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Final exams: The Flash/Arrow crossover next week and showing us who exactly is in that grave they showed in the tag of the season premiere.
The Flash, second season The CW
Overview: Flash has been the most consistent show of the season, but there hasn’t yet been that episode that blows you away, either. Flash has been a go-to sorts for setting up major pieces of the upcoming spinoff Legends of Tomorrow. There was a whole episode about Captain Cold being not such a bad guy after all and another setting up the new Firestorm pairing ahead of Legends. Other than that, the show has managed the whole multiple Earths storyline from getting too bogged down. While not as over-the-top optimistic as in its first season, it’s still a fun ride.
Final exams: That previously mentioned crossover. Another showdown with Professor Zoom.
Grade: B (but expecting it to go up once it’s done its duty as backdoor pilot central)
Agents of SHIELD, third season ABC
Overview: It’s hard not to gush about how far this show has come. Considering three of its most criticized characters (Fitz, Simmons and Skye/Daisy) are now its most beloved it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. All season, the show’s writers have been weaving a series of seemingly unrelated series of plotlines together. With one pull last week, the whole tapestry came together, sending the show in an exciting new direction. This show has brought action, monsters and Simmons’ trials alone on an alien planet without missing a step from week to week (something that had been a huge weakness in previous seasons).
Final Exams: The fallout from Ward’s “Scientology” talk and a decidedly cosmic direction.
Supergirl, first season CBS
Overview: This show didn’t premiere until October and had episodes run out of order out of sensitivity to the attacks in Paris. The first female-led superhero show of this recent generation has hit the right feminist notes at times and has a strong supporting cast led by Calista Flockhart. The success or failure of this show is going to ride on star Melissa Benoist’s shoulders. She has the earnestness of Supergirl down, but she’s mostly displayed all the confidence of a damp dishrag. That improved during the Thanksgiving episode, but if you don’t buy Kara, you aren’t buying this show.
Final Exams: Building on what they started in the Thanksgiving episode and hope the broad nature of being on CBS doesn’t torpedo this show before it straightens up and flies right.
Grade: Incomplete (too small a sample size)
Gotham, second season FOX
Overview: Ok is anyone else still tuning in to what has become my weekly hate-watch? Instead of backing away from its bigger flaws (most notably introducing the bulk of Batman’s rogues gallery while Bruce Wayne is in junior high) it has doubled down on all of it and veered into the realm of live action cartoon. It worked somewhat with the Maniax storyline, but once their proto-Joker character was killed, we were left with more of horrible Barbara and Ben McKenzie’s signature “Blue Steel” look that actually makes him appear constipated.
Final Exams: More Nygma-Penguin, less Cat-girl perching on furniture.
Grade: Is there a grade worse than F?