Elizabeth Tulloch

The Flash (2014) s06e09 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three

Crisis: Part Three is a scant handful of okay moments surrounded by truly godawful dialogue, sometimes so bad it’s impressive the actors are keeping it together—points to Grant Gustin, Elizabeth Tulloch, Cress Williams, and Candice Patton—one inventive plotting point, a couple big nostalgia deep-dives (they really felt the need to validate “Birds of Prey” fans, which I’m not sure I believe is a thing), and a lot of nonsense. Along with plot points from other DC Comics crossover events, including one of the silliest ones.

There are a lot of obvious budgetary shortcuts, like how Brandon Routh’s Superman returned never gets a shot actually going through the teleportation effect because apparently there’s only so much CGI budget. But also the lack of exterior shots (they don’t even recycle footage from the last time they showed Crisis hitting Earth on “The Flash,” which might threaten some kind of extended cut?).

The three big plots this episode—almost called it issue, but no, if it were an issue of Crisis it’d look better, George Perez and all (seriously, how they didn’t get a uniform good score for the crossover instead of just dropping in the old superhero themes…)—anyway, it’s Gustin, Carlos Valdes, and Danielle Panabaker trying to save the world from the speed cannon, which is an utterly crappy sequence. Especially compared to the comic, but even compared to when Gustin disintegrated in his nightmares earlier this season. Like they spent more money on that effects shot from a regular episode than the money shot in this one. It’s a bummer. Even if it’s got a good nostalgia hook but also an exceptional missed opportunity. The crossover asks for a whole bunch of slack and doesn’t deserve any of it.

Oh, wait, there are four big plots. I forgot about Matt Ryan leading David Ramsey (whose acting has gotten worse the longer he’s been on “Arrow,” and not just because he has a very forced Malcolm X quote to show he’s a Black man, which might be the most questionable creative decision in a series of very questionable creative decisions), Stephen Amell, and Katherine McNamara on a cameo-filled field trip through the Arrowverse purgatory. Even though it’s unclear how the infinite Earths work with purgatory, because it seems to be unified between realities but… whatever. Anyway, it’s just for cameos and to give Ramsey some crossover time. McNamara’s got almost nothing to do so she’s nowhere near as bad as last episode.

Then Ruby Rose and Melissa Benoist are bickering about Benoist wanting to use the Book of Destiny or whatever it’s called to save the lost universes and acting like they’re in a Frank Miller rip-off until they get girl power. Rose is bad, Benoist’s not good but also not bad; it’s neither of their faults. It’s the script, it’s the direction. Their plot’s a pointless, terribly written one.

Finally, Patton is tasked with introducing Osric Chau to the Arrowverse. I’m sure he’ll have a job after the crossover as Atom II. He’s actually okay, even though the scenes are atrociously written. Because of course they are.

The big cliffhanger—it’s five weeks until the last two entries—lacks in grandeur and execution, also not a surprise. It’s almost like they don’t have the budget for the guest stars and special effects and so went with the former. Or maybe it really is just a terribly produced crossover. It’s not like the last one was any good either.

There is a pleasant surprise at the finish, but only because it promises to amuse when they get back. Amusement would help. This episode’s not amusing. Or entertaining. And Audrey Marie Anderson and LaMonica Garrett are still terrible. Oh, and they managed to get an even worse performance out of Tom Cavanagh than he’s been giving the rest of the season (he should quit after this disservice to his filmography, just for the godawful costuming alone).

Is it as bad as the first episode of Crisis? No. Is it as middling as the second one? Nope. But whatever’s coming in five weeks, it’s pretty clear even if it’s entertaining or amusing or manages some decent moments from the actors… it’s not going to be good. And it’ll probably be bad. It’ll definitely be tedious. The cliffhanger would have been the end of the first installment if this Crisis were any good.

Batwoman (2019) s01e09 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two

So “Batwoman”’s Crisis crossover is rather instructional, at least in understanding what’s going to go wrong with it (the crossover). The writing. “Batwoman”’s script is all right. Not great, but leaps and bounds over the previous one. Even if the performances get a little shaky and they’re trying too hard to foreshadow, but Don Whitehead and Holly Henderson’s script does something “Supergirl” couldn’t manage. They make a decent “hour” of superhero adventure TV.

Albeit an hour with absolutely nothing to do with the regular “Batwoman” stuff, including having Ruby Rose play second-fiddle to pretty much everyone and then have this weird “straight-coding” moment with Melissa Benoist, which is a pointless Bechdel fail. How is it possible the Arrowverse shows can’t find a writer capable of not screwing up at least one of the characterizations. It’s not like comics got to have writers’ rooms or paid assistants so you’d think there’d be someone checking on this stuff, but whatever. It’s a short scene and soon gives way to the simultaneously successful and not successful Kevin Conroy cameo.

How does “Batwoman” get away with never having Batman on the show? Go to the future on an alternate Earth during the Crisis and introduce old man Batman Kevin Conroy (who voiced the “Animated Series” cartoon for years along with a bunch of other cartoon features and video games). Shame Conroy’s really bad at acting. Though director Laura Belsey gets major props for trying to hide it. Most of Rose and Conroy’s scenes together consist of Rose standing and listening to Conroy speak, close-up on Rose, maybe an over the shoulder from Conroy every once and a while because that way Conroy’s speaking but not having to emote. It’d be more impressive if the Conroy cameo added up to anything, but not really.

Meanwhile, there’s the Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor hopping universes to kill Superman over and over again, leading to a shockingly good Tom Welling cameo. I’ve never seen “Smallville” but Welling seemed like he’d impress as an actor but he’s good here. Is able to play off Cryer without much setup. Good stuff.

Then there’s Brandon Routh getting to put on the Kingdom Come Superman outfit and do a Superman Returns sequel, with plenty of references… then a sad Joker one. And it turns out… Routh really was a lot better at playing Clark Kent than Superman. Maybe he’d have grown into the part if Returns had gotten its Man of Steel but… also maybe not. Though he’s in old age makeup and CG-buffed or something to play old man Superman here so who knows.

Oh, right, then there’s Grant Gustin and Caity Lotz (the best performance in “Supergirl,” decidedly not feeling it here; she seems exhausted) going on a secret mission with Green Arrow fille (Katherine McNamara, who’s not good) and exhausted too but still lovable Matt Ryan. Dominic Purcell shows up for some comic relief, along with an actual nice surprise cameo.

Candice Patton’s also around, participating in the continuing Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch “Superman Family” backdoor pilot. It’s still cute enough, more so here just because the episode’s a lot better television than the “Supergirl.”

Shame the Arrowverse producers didn’t care about consistent writing… with this crew on the whole crossover, Crisis might have had a chance. But hopefully it won’t ever be as bad as “Supergirl”’s entry again.

Got to be fair and point out there’s less LaMonica Garrett in this episode than the “Supergirl,” which means less absurdly godawful acting and just regular tepid TV performances and not even many of those… it’s a very professionally executed episode.

Supergirl (2015) s05e09 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One

With the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, the CW Arrowverse achieves one of those DC Comics’s successes—they promise they understand, they promise they get it, they promise they’ll do it right, then it’s terrible. Not just regular terrible but also profoundly inept in some manner. See, you know, DC Comics’s comics for the last… twenty years? Twenty-five? Depends on if you want to see “Zero Hour” as the last chapter of the old or first chapter of the new. And Warner’s even done it with the movies–Batman & Robin and Justice League being the most obvious examples. They say they know what they’ve got, then they show they don’t. The fail the project’s potential.

Like, I hoped it would be better than the regular production values on “Supergirl.” It’s worse. Melissa Benoist gets to play second fiddle to Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch’s “Superman Family” backdoor pilot, which is fine because Hoechlin and Tulloch are a hell of a lot less obnoxious than the regular cast this episode. Even though it’s a regular “Supergirl” director (Jesse Warn), somehow Jesse Rath’s totally different. Like no one’s on the same page with the character, actor, writers, director, and it makes his every expository deliver simultaneously exasperating and enraging; the show doesn’t have to be so bad, why aren’t they trying to at least not make it its worst. They ought to be showcasing their strengths.

The show’s shockingly inept at introducing the other heroes, which kind of makes sense since you’ve got to spend time with the regular cast since you’re not paying them all to crossover… but maybe mix it up a bit. Ruby Rose and Katie McGrath doing something has a lot more potential entertainment value than McGrath and Chyler Leigh sniping at each other over McGrath’s supervillain potential. Brandon Routh and David Harewood doing something would beat Routh playing second fiddle to Caity Lotz (who gives the episode’s best performance) and Harewood still having his stupid wisdom lines.

Nicole Maines and Azie Tesfai only show up to herd people out of the waterfront area, which has become the show’s biggest and stupidest action trope now. Is it a Vancouver fun run or something, shooting “run from the huge waterfront in the Kansas City stand-in city” every week?

Basically no one gets anything good. Hoechlin and Tulloch excepted. Hoechlin even gets to be sad about Benoist’s long-lost mom dying because guest star Audrey Marie Anderson (who’s terrible and going to be in all of the crossover episodes, which is really bad) didn’t have enough energy in the Dilithium crystals to save her. It’s a poorly plotted episode. Like, I get there needs to be a bunch for Stephen Amell because it’s his last crossover but they pad they heck out of his scenes. He and future daughter Katherine McNamara have the same conversation at least twice, maybe more, and when it gets time for Amell and “Flash” Grant Gustin to have their big crossover moment they don’t get one because there’s not time, there’s already the “Superman Family” pilot in session.

Worse, it’s cheap. They fight the “shadow demons,” which were the “Crisis” comic disposable baddies but they’re like medieval-ish ghosts… like, cheap CGI model ones. All the action sequences with them are terrible, even worse than the “meet Batwoman” action sequence the show goes with. Warn’s never been a good director but they really should’ve gotten someone else.

They also should’ve hired a good composer special for the crossover. The music is truly horrific.

The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths is off to its most inevitable start… it’s a shitty DC event crossover.

And while the opening cameos with Robert Wuhl (from Batman 1989) and Burt Ward (from “Batman: The TV Show), along with the clip from “Titans?” They set up a false expectation of competency. Maybe not technical prowess, as the green screen shots are terrible, but they at least suggest the crossover gets its entertainment potential.

Then it fails. Over and over.

Outside convincing me to maybe try “Superman Family” and to reassure me I’m not missing anything on “Arrow,” the show’s greatest success is providing a solid jumping off point.

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