It's Superman! Or Is It?
Arrowverse 2021/2022 Season: January Premieres
After a month away, the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. returns this week with a (nearly) full slate of shows for us to consume. Not only have Batwoman and the Legends of Tomorrow returned this week, but they're joined by everyone's favorite couple, Superman & Lois, as well as newcomer Naomi The only one missing is The Flash, and they won't be back until March. I think we've got enough to watch even then.
We're only going to touch upon our premieres this week, saving larger looks at the shows for our normal end-of-month perspectives. For now, let's just get into our new shows and see what they're promising to us for the seasons to come:
Superman & Lois
Season Premiere: "What Lies Beneath"
As I noted last year, Superman & Lois is probably the best show in the Arrowverse. When Arrow ended, everyone wondered what show would become the new "hub" for the universe, the show that all the others revolved around. Sure, The Flash had "Armageddon" and everyone seems to treat it like the de facto center of the universe. Frankly, though, that show sucks and I don't see it lasting much longer. The true successor for the 'verse is right here, in Smallville, and in its second season it's still great.
This first episode of the second season picks up three months after the end of last season where, from a crashed ship, the daughter of John Henry Irons and his alternate-Earth wife, that version's Lois Lane, emerged. The daughter, Natalie Irons (Tayler Buck), was shocked to see her mom still alive on this Earth, Of course it wasn't her mom but this Earth's (our Earth's) Lois who is very much married to Clark and has two sons. It was... awkward.
Three months later the family is still reeling from it. Lois has had a chip on her shoulder for three months, not sure how to deal with an alternate-daughter of hers existing on Earth. Natalie isn't handling it much better, getting into fights regularly with her dad. And, of course, she's also edgy about Kryptonians being accepted on this Earth, or at least just Superman, considering it was Kryptonians that wiped out all of humanity on her own world. Sure to make matters worse is that the U.S. military has been butting heads with Supes, wanting him as an agent of American when he's already pledged to help the world. So the Military makes their own Kryptonians from U.S. soldiers and that's sure not to backfire at all on anyone.
The producers of the show said that this season they're going to put some static between Lois and Clark, adding in some drama to their characters, and that as a decisions when talked about that I didn't really jive with. Part of the magic of the first season is seeing these two having their occasional problems but still, end of the day, be a loving and mature couple. I don't want the show to screw with that too much because you don't want to kill what works well about the show. That said, seeing how they're approaching it this season, I am at least interested in seeing what happens on the show for this season's drama.
It helps that while Lois is going through her own emotional journey because of Natalie (which apparently is bringing up issues of abandonment from when her own mom left, which is a good way to approach this story) the series ha still preserved what works so well bout Clark. He continues to be a boy scout, a loving father and husband who just wants to do right by his family. His wife snaps at him and he gets a little testy, but there's still that sweetness to the character that the show hasn't yet taken away. It allows him to both be Superman and yet properly human. Plus, the times where he has to give his sons a "Dad talk" (like this episode after Johnathan gets caught making out with his girlfriend) are delightfully awkward. This Superman is perfect.
it will be interesting to see where the show goes from here. My hope would be that it works Natalie in so Lois can work through her stuff, while giving the boys a "sister" they can rely on. What I don't want to see is a dumb love-triangle between Lois, John, and Clark because that feels so out of character for all of them that it wouldn't make sense at all. It's not outside the bounds of the CW to do something that stupid, but it does feel like, at least right now, the writers are smarter than that.
I will say the real sour note right now for the show is the inclusion of new "Kryptonians". We already had evil Kryptonians as the bad guys last season, and Supergirl had he own fair share of evil Kryptonian storylines. Hopefully there's much more going on here than that because that storyline alone feels played out. But hey, we can check in end of the month to see how things have progressed and if the writers really do know what they're doing.
Series Premiere: "Don't Believe Everything You Think"
And now for the big reveal this season, the new show Naomi. This show takes the slot of the "Black Superhero" show that, apparently, the CW wants to have. Black Lightning ended (thankfully because that show was bad), and Painkiller never got picked up. The network is right to try to have shows with other voices than all the white bread superheroes it currently sports (and Superman is as white bread as they come), and so far, Naomi looks like a better class of show than the fallen demographic shows to come before.
In the series we're introduced to the titular girl, Naomi (Kaci Walfall). Adopted as a baby by Greg (Barry Watson) and Jennifer McDuffie (Mouzam Makkar), Naomi is on the cusp of heading off into her own perfect life. She has a loving family, is popular all around school, and runs the third-most-popular Superman fan site Online. her on-again, off-again boyfriend Nathan (Daniel Puig) actually rags on her a little about that as being into Superman is so nerdy, especially since he's a fictional character (firmly establishing this show exists outside the Arrowverse. All she wants is to finish out her senior year so she can go to college and be the woman she's meant to be.
Things get weird for her, though, when a fight breaks out in the town square, a fight between Superman (a real Superman) and an unknown assailant. At the same time, as she rushes to see the fight, Naomi gets dizzy and faints. She stats to suspect there's some connection between these events, so she begins digging around, looking into the fight and the mysterious people around town that seem to know more than they're saying. And soon Naomi begins to suspect that she's not normal, that there's something different about her, which forces her to question everything she knows about her perfect life.
Based on the comic series of the same name, which was originally created by Brian Michael Bendis, Naomi is both a new kind of show for the network -- a teen-based superhero show, when all the other heroes are very much adults -- but also doesn't feel all that different from the standard CW formula. It feels like Supergirl mixed with Nancy Drew (which is also on the CW), and given a bit of an Arrowverse coat of paint. That's not to disparage the show by any means, but if you're coming into this series expecting something really new you probably won't be too impressed by this first episode.
What works about the show is the cast. Walfall is the star here and she absolutely carries this show. She has a bright and kinetic energy that lights up all her scenes and the show absolutely works because of her. The characters aren't her feel a little more generic, a little more "made for the CW", from her "Watcher" Dee (Alexander Wraith), her "sassy best friend" Annabelle (Mary-Charles Jones), the obviously evil Zumbado (Cranston Johnson), and none of them have the acting chops to keep up with Walfall, but they might get there over time. Having Walfall there to lead the show helps a ton.
What doesn't yet work is the story. There's a lot of mystery this first episode without a ton of answer. Clearly the creators wanted to dole out Naomi's story slowly, to make it a big reveal, but that means this first episode is a lot of wheel-spinning without much forward momentum. Hopefully things pick up now that we have our characters introduced as there's a spark here that could lead to a great show, it just has to foster it and really turn this show into something great.
I'm cautiously optimistic for Naomi right now. he show could be great, or it could become just another CW formula retread. We'll have to see how it goes over the course of the next few weeks to really know what kind of show Naomi is meant to be.
- Legends and Batwoman both started up this week as well, but we'll do a proper check-in with them, and more adventures of Superman & Lois at the end of the month. Naomi, though, will get a proper review at the end of her season since she's not officially an Arrowverse show (at least, not yet).
- Meanwhile, in future Arrowverse news, the CW is apparently developing a new show in the 'verse starring David Ramsey's John Diggle. The proposed show, Justice U, would see Diggle mentoring five meta-teens as they go to college and learn to be heroes. It sounds perfectly in line with the CW, but Diggle is a cool character. It could end up being good.