TV, with aliens and without

The second season of DOOM PATROL is probably the most frustrating of the various Covid Interruptus season enders I’ve seen — while I can’t say I was that invested in the main threat, the growing problems inside Jane’s split-personality mindscape (“The Underground”) had my rapt attention. The main plot concerns the Chief’s long-lost daughter, Dorothy, whose reality-bending powers make her a ticking time bomb Niles is hoping to defuse. Paralleling their relationship we have Cliff reaching out to his daughter, Larry trying to connect with his family and Rita remembering unpleasant truths about her mother, all of which comes to a head in the final episode. Not as good overall as S1, but I’m looking forward to the third season starting next month. “You’re right, Jesus forgives — too bad for you I’m not Jesus!”

THE WHISPERS was a 2015 series based on Ray Bradbury’s short story “Zero Hour.” In the story, a mother slowly begins to realize the local kids’ game with their imaginary friend Drill is actually a real game involving an alien manipulating the kids into opening a dimensional gateway (an example of the Pied Piper theme in kids-and-aliens stories). In the series’ opening episode, Drill tricks a girl into almost killing her mother. The feds ask Claire (Lily Rabe), an agent who specializes in dealing with kids, to investigate the girl, who claims she was just playing a game with her friend Drill. We know Drill’s real, but will the feds believe it? What’s Drill after? And what does the tattooed amnesiac (Milo Ventimiglia) hanging around have to do with things (his role doesn’t make much sense — I assume he’s partly an Easter Egg reflecting that “Zero Hour” appeared in The Illustrated Man).

The series worked well, and Drill’s manipulation of the kids — or parents, by threatening their kids — is effectively creepy. A lot of what he does doesn’t hold up logically (possibly an S2 would have made sense of it) and the last episode disappointed me. Gaslighting the children is creepy; having him suddenly mind-controlling them is less interesting. Good overall, but I’m not grieving we’ll never get a second season. “What if she’s turning into one of those kids — the ones you whisper about, the ones you make up excuses to keep your kids away from?”

When I wrote about the first season of the KUNG FU reboot back in June I didn’t realize it was only a pause, with the final episodes to follow. The rest of the season has  Zhilan (Gwendoline Yeo) and Nicky (Olivia Liang) racing to gather the artifacts and their mysterious power source, Nicky working out her relationship situation and sister Althea finally speaking up about her former employer raping her.

Everything comes to a head in the final episode, which wraps up everything while setting up for S2. I’m still looking forward to it. “The phrase ‘okey dokey’ means the bullies have gone away.”

Spinning off Supergirl, SUPERMAN AND LOIS has the couple relocate to Smallville with their teenage kids, Jonathan and Jordan. It turns out that corrupt media mogul Morgan Edge (Adam Rayner) is investing heavily in the town, but Lois is convinced it’s for unethical reasons. She’s right, too — Smallville sits over a buried meteorite shower of X-Kryptonite, which Edge — actually another Kryptonian — and his scientist aide Leslie Larr (Stacey Farber) can use to endow Smallville residents with superpowers to make them hosts for the dead of Krypton. And how does the mysterious Captain Luthor (Wolé Parks) fit into all this?

This started off so-so, much as I like the cast, but it picked up amazingly as the season went along. Unlike the comics, where Lois  (Elizabeth Tulloch) hasn’t done much reporting since moving to Smallville, this has her going to work for the struggling local paper (Edge bought out the Planet and eventually fired her for not toeing the corporate line). My biggest complaint is that Kryptonian villains have become generic (and they’re solidly Othered here — all of them but Superman are genocidal psychos) and Edge is also, even as a human; I actually confused him with Maxwell Lord from Supergirl because they both come off as post-Crisis Luthor knockoffs. Still, I’m (again) looking forward to more. “When I said I love you, it wasn’t just one of those things that people say because they think they’re going to die.”

#SFWApro. Comics cover by Bruno Premiani, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Movies, TV

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