Legends of Tomorrow Binge Watch: Episodes 2-9 & 2-10 : “Legends of the Lost Art’ and “The Legion of Doom” and What the Hell Storytelling

legends-binge-logo-snartless Since this appears to be Go For Broke week here on Argh Craft, it’s a good time to go back to Legends of Tomorrow because in its new insane season, the writers have been consistently saying, “What the hell, let’s do THIS” and just hitting the show out of the SF/comic book show park. This show was once consistently rated the worst of the Arrowverse–Arrow, The Flash, Legends, and this year Supergirl–and now it’s more often than not rated the best. That is entirely due to the writers room stocking a lot of good weed or just deciding that if it feels good, they should write it. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun with Dumb TV. If they bring back Snart, this will be my favorite show. Oh, hell, it’s my favorite show now, but bring back Snart anyway.

Where was I? Right. The pleasures of watching a show (or reading a story) where the writer says, “What the hell, why not?” They are many. Continue reading

What Have We Learned From This Binge Watch 3: The Antagonist Is Crucial in Building a Team Story

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My biggest problem in writing Nita at this point is not having a clear antagonist. I already knew that my plot was a mess because of that–your antagonist shapes your plot–but until I started considering her team, I didn’t realize that the team’s make-up was also shaped by the Big Bad. Once I thought about it, it was obvious: the make-up and character of the team is defined by the project it undertakes, and the project it undertakes is shaped by antagonist.

Which means I need to learn a lot more about team antagonists. And then find Nita’s. Continue reading

Legends of Tomorrow Binge Watch: Episode 14 “River of Time” by Courtney Norris & Anderson Mackenzie, Episode 15 “Destiny” by Phil Klemmer & Chris Fedak, Episode 16 “Legendary” by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim: Crisis, Gotcha, Climax, Anti-Climax

legends-binge-logo-snartlessThe last three episodes of the first season of Legends of Tomorrow are: Episode 14: “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?,” Episode 15: “Now THAT’S a Climax,” Episode 16: “Oh, Yeah, We Still Have To Kill Vandal Savage.”

I think the reason this series made me so nuts when I finally watched the first season this year is that it had huge potential. When it was on its game, as it is in “Destiny,” it’s just terrific. Unfortunately, it was rarely on its game because it had too many team members, too many of those team members were annoying, the writers kept trying to make two blocks of wood the Greatest Love Story Ever Told, the crap crowded out the good stuff (Sara, Mick, Snart), Vandal Savage was a cartoon, and Rip Hunter was the Worst Team Leader Ever. Also, no plot and that damn reveal in Episode 14 that made me insane with rage. How do you fix a series story like this? Kill it with fire.

Well, no, we want to keep Sara, Mick, and Snart. And the time travel premise. And . . . Yeah, it’s worth saving for a second season.

But first we have to clean up this one. Continue reading

Legends of Tomorrow Binge Watch, Episode 11 “The Magnificent Eight” by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim, Episode 12 “Last Refuge” by Chris Fedak & Matthew Maala, Episode 13 “Leviathon” by Sarah Nicole Jones & Ray Utarnachitt: Let’s Talk About That Third Act

legends-binge-logo One of the aspects of storytelling that makes teams popular is the fun you can have with them once the characters are established and the team is really working as a team. If you’ve written the characters as strong, contrasting individuals, putting them together in different pairings in different situations can create some great expectations (see Ray and Mick in a Russian prison, for example) and surprising reversals. And once the team has finally bonded, sending them out against a powerful adversary is more than fun, it’s like watching a Rube Goldberg machine in action, the individual moves of the team as exciting as the final outcome of them working together. Continue reading

Legends of Tomorrow Binge Watch: Episode 4 “White Knights” by Sarah Nicole Jones & Phil Klemmer, and Episode 5 “Fail-Safe” by Beth Schwartz & Grainne Godfree

legends-binge-logo This double episode is a good team story that’s mostly a lot of fun, but before we get into why, let’s talk about plot and subplot in team stories.

Team stories are naturals for subplots because the supporting characters of the team (assuming the team leader is the protagonist) are naturals for protagonists of smaller plots that support the main conflict. The key is “support the main plot.” The main plot of Legends is about saving family, changing the past and future, risking everything for an outcome that’s worth dying for. So any subplot should echo that to reinforce it, reverse it to act as a foil or contrast, or play off of it in some other way that enhances and deepens it. Let’s look at those potential subplots, taking one team member at a time. Continue reading

Legends of Tomorrow Binge Watch: Episodes 1 and 2: “Pilot” by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg & Phil Klemmer

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I don’t know when I decided I wanted to write a team story, but it was probably somewhere during my first watch of Leverage. And then the Nita story came along and it was clearly a team story in tandem with a romance, and I realized that I didn’t know how to write teams, and then I started watching Legends of Tomorrow . . .

The thing about Legends is that its flaws are so egregious that I can easily see what not to do, but once I peel those things away, its successes are so beautifully done that I can see how they work in contrast. So while I’ll be bashing the show a lot in these posts, I’m pretty sure I’ll always love the things it does brilliantly. It turns out, it’s well worth watching if you know what to look for.

So let’s start with the pilot. It’s mostly awful. Continue reading