Category: Drama (Page 2 of 46)

13 Ways 'The Flash' is Wasting Iris West

13 Ways ‘The Flash’ is Wasting Iris West

In just three seasons of The Flash, the characters have been through a lot of changes. I’m always impressed when a TV show doesn’t drag out a story. That means the writers’ imaginations are primed and they have a lot more stories to tell. Barry matured and tapped into the Speed Force; Cisco became Vibe; Caitlin is on her way to being (Not) Killer Frost; and we’ve had no less than four versions of Harrison Wells. Heck, even Joe reconciled with his ex-wife, gained a son and started dating again.

But one character hasn’t had much going on and it’s really working my last nerve. Iris West. Iris has had little to do since the first season for no good reason. She’s become set dressing, a prop, an exposition-spouter and an earpiece for other characters. Sure, she’s Barry’s love interest and general damsel in distress but… ugh! In the first season, Iris West was a firebrand, a go-getter blogger who was out to change the world. Somewhere in Season 2 she devolved into a superficial character who lost her unique voice. Her lines are nearly interchangeable with anyone else’s on Team Flash.

The Flash is missing out by putting Iris in the corner. Here are 13 ways The Flash is wasting Iris West.

#13 And the award goes to…

Candice Patton is a talented actress who isn’t chewing enough scenery on The Flash. During the few times Iris has bared her soul, Patton was up for the challenge. She portrays Iris deftly, hitting all the right notes of a character in a superhero TV series that’s almost a soap opera. She’s gutsy, but vulnerable; supportive, but protective; discerning, but blinded by love. When Team Flash visited Earth 2, Patton played a tougher, sexier version of Iris who was a lot of fun to watch. She’s also funny when she needs to be, surprising us with her subtle comedy.

However, Patton can only play so many shades of “concerned.” Iris is concerned about every one all the time… and that’s about it. Patton should be given more to do, more to say, so that she can flex her well-honed acting skills. She previously guest-starred on EntourageGrey’s Anatomy and Heroes, so she’s got TV drama down pat. She should be speechifying all over that set.

#12 Is this thing on?

Iris West doesn’t say a lot that has much value. What she says is usually just an echo of what someone else has said. Or, the writers use Iris like a Greek chorus, giving her lines that repeat what the audience is thinking or feeling. Mostly she’s there to be a sounding board; her lines are just prompts for Barry or Joe or Wally to say what’s on his mind.

Iris should be a three-dimensional, fully fleshed-out character, who can start conversations that have nothing to do with being concerned about someone’s rash actions or “how they’re doing.” (I think there should be a drinking game, actually, that has you take a drink every time Iris asks someone how they’re doing. Drunk in 20 minutes, flat!) If you don’t believe me, take this test: The next time Team Flash is gathered in the control room at S.T.A.R. Labs, pretend Iris isn’t there. Imagine what would happen if she didn’t speak at all. If you don’t think the outcome of the scene would be changed if she had remained silent, then we’re on the same page.

#11 Where my girls at?

You can tell The Flash is written almost exclusively by men because when it comes to bromance (Barry and Cisco; Joe and Barry; H.R. and Cisco) they know how to bring the feels. When was the last time, however, we witnessed a heartfelt expression between Iris and… there are no female BFFs on The Flash! C’mon!

Greg Berlanti — co-creator and executive producer — is doing a better job over on Supergirl, with great conversations between Kara and Alex, who are sisters. But the ladies of Central City have no one to hang with. I want to see some GNOs (girls night out, for the uninitiated) with Iris and Caitlin. Maybe even that cutie D.A. Cecile could toss one back with our girls. I’d love to see even a little female bonding that reveals more about these women. On The Flash, women are by and large villainous guest-stars. If they are do-gooders, they don’t stick around long. (See ya, Jesse!) Iris and Caitlin have a lot to talk about and I, for one, want to see that happen.

#10 We. Are. Fam-i-ly.

If Iris had more to do, we would get to know her family a little bit better. The Flash’s extended family has many a meal in Joe’s dining room, but rarely have we seen just Joe, Iris and Wally hanging out. Family is an important theme on The Flash, but the only blood relatives — the West family — are almost never alone in a room together. The characters are falling into a rut, where they serve only one or two purposes. Iris could be the catalyst to show us new sides of Joe and Wally, as well as herself. Plus, more West family get-togethers means that theme of family is emphasized all the more.

Wally West, Barry Allen (The Flash) and Iris West

Wally West, Barry Allen (The Flash) and Iris West

#9 You don’t bring me flowers anymore.

I know Barry is the fastest man alive, but can he please manage to spend more than a blink of an eye with his live-in love? The only time Barry and Iris see each other is at S.T.A.R. Labs, holidays or in bed. Perhaps the writers are just juggling too many characters to let us see more of Iris and Barry doing couple-y things, like cooking dinner or walking home from work or grabbing a coffee at CC Jitters (remember that place?). I almost don’t believe they’re really a couple because they went from “unrequited love” to “shacked up” in lightning speed.

I know I’m repeating myself (it is my blog, after all) but here, again, is another opportunity for the characters to do something other than stand around S.T.A.R. Labs talking about how concerned they are. Even an affectionate line or two is enough to make their romantic relationship more believable, while showing us more facets of their personalities.

#8 Princes need not apply.

The damsel-in-distress story trope gets old quick, especially when Iris is supposed to be a smart woman who can take care of herself. Recently I pitched this very story, the one you’re reading, to an editor. He said the point is moot because now Iris has her own storyline. Oh, dear editor, I beg to differ. [SPOILERS] Just because Savatar is out to kill Iris, and everyone’s trying to save her, does not mean she has her own storyline. It’s really still Barry’s storyline. HE has to save HER. Savatar is HIS enemy. She’s just the trophy Barry will win or lose.

Now, some of you are saying that Iris has been more active since Barry saw the future because she knows she has to live every minute to the fullest. True, she has been more active. But she still hasn’t created her own story. She is not the engine driving this story. Here’s another test: Imagine Cisco or Caitlin or Joe or anyone getting killed by Savatar in the future. Would the story be any different? Well, there might be less kissing, but that’s about it. [/SPOILERS]

#7 Tomorrow’s news today.

Iris is an investigative reporter who, until the last couple of episodes, hasn’t done much investigating. In the first season of The Flash, Iris was fighting for good stories and space on the front page. We saw her at work much more often than the last couple of seasons. We’re starting to see a little more of Iris at work, thankfully, but she’s still a character on the sidelines.

Iris could be helping Team Flash so much more than she does. As a reporter, she could be asking questions and digging up information that her cohorts can’t. No one’s going to wonder why a nosy reporter is asking a bunch of questions. If Barry started grilling someone, however, they would wonder why the forensic scientist is all up in their business. Instead of relying on Iris, Team Flash generally just uses the city’s security cameras or censors or some kind of Cisco-science to find metas and criminals. That gets old too! Put Iris to work!

#6 Always the bridesmaid…

A TV series is a short-lived thing for a reason. Writers can only come up with so many scenarios before the audience tunes out. In the case of a superhero show, like Arrow, eventually everyone is in on the identity of the superhero and/or everyone has a power or a persona. The Flash is definitely heading in that direction. First, there was just Barry as The Flash.  Then Cisco became Vibe. Now Caitlin is turning into Killer Frost, and Wally is Kid Flash. (I’m not counting Joe and H.R. because they’re a generation older and not part of the core team.) What about Iris?

Iris is the only main member of Team Flash who is powerless. She hasn’t picked up any cool mutations, no matter how many times something has exploded at S.T.A.R. Labs. It’s even been a topic of discussion among the characters, with Barry assuring her she is still an integral part of the team. Bah! Since various superhero TV shows have co-opted powers and personas for a variety of characters, to mix things up, let’s give Iris the powers and persona of DC’s Raquel Ervin, a.k.a. Rocket, who was a sidekick and wore a belt that gave her all kinds of powers. That could easily fit into The Flash’s continuity. Then Iris could be going toe to toe with some of these bad metas and aliens, and helping Team Flash in the field.

Iris West and Barry Allen

Iris West and Barry Allen

#5 Love means never having to say you’re sorry…

…which is so boring. I hate to get all needy here, but everything is about Barry Barry Barry. Iris supports him unconditionally. She’s always rooting for him, watching him race off to save the world. He’s traveled to other Earths and even lived in a completely different timeline. Meanwhile, Iris is just hanging out in Central City.

I’m not a jealous person, but I know a lot of women who resent their husbands for having jobs that require a lot of travel or long hours at the office. Generally, these women are resentful because they have their own needs that aren’t being met. They didn’t get married just to hang out at home alone, y’know? I would love to see Iris demand more of Barry’s time. I would love to see Iris put her foot down, or at least try, when Barry leaves her at dinner to stop a bank robbery, or something. Wouldn’t their relationship be more plausible, and less nauseating, if there was some conflict? For the first time, in “Untouchable,” Iris told Barry that sometimes she feels like he’s saving everyone but her. Preach, sister! Of course, Barry agreed with her and they kissed and everything was peachy, because those two never have any conflict. I want more!

#4 Reap what you sow.

I mentioned earlier that TV writers have a heck of a challenge. They have to keep a lot of storylines on deck in order to keep the audience interested and the ratings up. TV writers have to fill 23 episodes per season, with a very fast turnaround time and a tight budget. The Flash is The CW’s top show, in terms of ratings, so the pressure is on them to keep producing great stories.

If Iris had a fuller character, and more to do, the writers would have more stories to tell. Sure, the show is about The Flash, but there are plenty of B storylines floating around for the other characters. Why not give Iris something more? She could stumble onto some kind of criminal conspiracy through the course of her work. She could face challenges at the newspaper because she tries to balance her career and her time on Team Flash. The writers could even introduce (ugh, I hate this idea, but it’s a possibility) another love interest. Arrow has mined quite a few scenes out of various love triangles over the years. Giving Iris more to do would help the writers fill up their storyboards with great ideas.

#3 Crisscross applesauce.

Crossover episodes are a fan’s dream come true, because you get to see your favorite superheroes team up, banter, fight, kiss, whatever. Recently The CW had a massive crossover week that had the casts from SupergirlThe FlashArrow and Legends of Tomorrow visiting each other. “Invasion!” was fantastic fun, even if it wasn’t perfect.

I would love to see Iris visit National City, where Kara Danvers, a.k.a. Supergirl, is a cub reporter. There’s no reason the two of them couldn’t team up to investigate a story. Sure, Kara kind of has a female partner in her sister, Alex, but the duo of Kara and Iris would be a completely different dynamic. That would be a blast to watch!

#2 I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.

Maybe you don’t know this, but The CW has several original animated series on their website and their app called CW Seed. An animated series about Vixen is very popular right now, and one about Constantine is on its way. These web-only cartoons are a great way for fans to get to know their favorite superheroes a little better, and to see them do things that live-action TV budgets don’t allow, like flying and breathing underwater.

Iris is the kind of character that would be perfect to star in her own animated series. She’s a reporter, so episodes could focus on all kinds of crime, maybe even with a revolving door of DC Comics villains. Her character could be the keystone in a great cartoon, giving DC a cheaper way to serve up lots of their comic book characters.

Candice Patton as Iris West

Candice Patton as Iris West

#1 Here me roar.

The Arrowverse has taken a lot of heat for treating their female characters badly. Supergirl has gone a long way toward promoting strong, smart role models for girls, while depicting realistic characters. Even Legends of Tomorrow is getting better at letting female characters thrive in key roles, like having Sara Lance as the captain of the Waverider. But The Flash isn’t doing such a hot job. When female characters are introduced, they’re generally bad guys or appendages of a male character. Caitlin Snow has a rich story happening right now, and Jesse Quick found her own path, but Iris is left to stand around looking beautiful.

Iris is a front-and-center character, so there’s no reason she can’t be a feminist role model. Instead of parading around in the latest fashions and the highest heels (seriously, how does she walk in those spikes?) she could be leading the charge on a mission, or winning a Pulitzer, or like I said above, getting some powers and kicking some butt. If the writers don’t give Iris more of a purpose and something better to do than just supporting Barry all the time, there’s really very little reason for her to exist.

#GiveIrisMore

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The Exorcist on Fox

‘The Exorcist!’ – UPDATED

Fox has brought a version of The Exorcist to the air and it’s fun, as much fun as a show can be that kills a cute tween in the first episode.

(This is a two-part post. The first part was posted on October 5, 2016. The updated review is posted below.)

One Episode in: The Exorcist!

After the first episode, the plot isn’t 100% clear. But you can bet the farm that there’s going to be some exorcisms! The excellent Geena Davis is holding together a family after some accident or stroke left the father with one of those movie/TV versions of dementia where he’s still pretty nice, but doesn’t know a lot about what is going on. Hey, and the dad is Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off who is doing some interesting character roles in his later career. Geena has two teenage daughters and boy are they a a handful, especially since on has been possessed by a demon. Geena Davis goes to see her priest, who thinks that she is going around the bend, but agrees to go to the house anyway. He has been having dreams about an exorcism and works out reasonably quickly what is going on.

Alan Ruck and Geena Davis in 'The Exorcist'

Alan Ruck and Geena Davis in ‘The Exorcist’

First off, I’d like to point out that Criminal Minds is still on the air. I watched about three episodes years and years ago, and bagged it because I just didn’t like the idea that they would catch a super secret serial killer every week! Too many! I think most serial killers are more like Jeff Dahmer than Hannibal Lecter, meaning that the whole works can be brought down by one sensitive-nosed neighbor. I think Mandy Patinkin left for the same reason I did: too much ick. That’s show has been on 11 seasons! It has survived cast shake-ups, retooling, and some vicious shin kicks to the producers!

So why not a season or two of exorcisms? I think it can work. It’s a rich subject and I know I’m not the only one who likes it when stories cherry pick weird stuff from the Bible to talk about. Can you imagine actually being on the Vatican’s anti-demon payroll? That would be a pretty sweet gig!

I don’t believe that this has anything to do with the movie or book, The Exorcist. But who knows where Max Van Sydow is going to turn up? He was in Strange Brew and was recently on TV in Game of Thrones, although that one seems like a pretty great gig. I was really excited for his one minute in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The lead is Alfonso Herrera, playing the dreamy Father Tomas. I gotta admit that I was really caught off guard by how charming Tomas is. Herrera brings a lot of charisma and some interesting world-weary drinking to the character and really kills it. I feel like Herrera is going to be a big star (and may already be in some Spanish-speaking country).

Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels in 'The Exorcist'

Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels in ‘The Exorcist’

This is going to sound weird, but I kept thinking of later Clint Eastwood movies whenever Father Tomas talked, in Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino, there were these young priests who tried their very, earnest best to help cranky old Clint see the light. Father Tomas is from this school, friendly, approachable, and willing to tell people when they are being nuts. You get the sense that they told the older executives, “This ain’t your father’s priest!”

The Exorcist is a good story, but it’s looking like they are thinking long-term and setting up a really complicated story. So you have to watch and pay attention, which can be not what I really want to do on Friday nights. But if you like horror movies, this is some quality stuff with a fine ensemble cast. Geena Davis!

Part Two – The Exorcist

(Some minor spoilers, which you probably didn’t watch any way. Actually, in this case, one of the spoilers would have made me more likely to finish watching if I had known earlier.)

The Exorcist was a difficult show to get excited about watching and it sat on my DVR for a long time. It was gross and upsetting and the most interesting thing about it wasn’t revealed until the fourth episode. And there’s something about the Christmas season that makes me less likely to watch a lot of TV horror. But if you like exorcism stuff, it’s probably not going to get any better than this.

First, the interesting spoiler I mentioned earlier. Sure, the movie tie-in seemed tenuous at first. But then there was the revelation that Geena Davis’s character turned out to be Regan, the little girl who was possessed in the movie The Exorcist. So the whole series started to make a lot more sense and somehow seemed more important when you learned that. Sure, Regan isn’t a character who you know a lot about. In the movie, you learn a lot more about the possessing demon and his colorful use of the English language. On the show, the possessed Casey, the demon, always calls Geena Davis, “the sow,” which is funny to me. And then adding the amazing Sharon Gless as Regan’s mother? Excellent. Cagney is always welcome in my living room.

THE EXORCIST: L-R: Geena Davis and Alfonso Herrera in the "Chapter Ten: Three Rooms" season finale episode airing Friday, Dec. 16 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jean Whiteside/FOX

Geena Davis and Alfonso Herrera

You know what I really like on this show? The effects.

In times of scares, special effects can be a crutch. And yes, The Exorcist uses some special effects, particularly some creepy eye stuff. But on the whole, you momentarily glimpse effects like the great ’70s Catholic horror movies, like The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby, with a soupçon of the splatter-fest spewing of The Exorcist movie. The Exorcist TV show really hits the sweet spot between all those, not trying to go much beyond them. In short, the effects are very stylish, but it’s still network TV.

You know another thing that I can’t get enough of in horror? Ass-kicking priests. There’s a moment where Ben Daniels walks into some kind of horrible storm drain or something that even the rats are getting the hell out of. Inside is a host of the worst deals humanity has to offer, mental illness, diseases of the body, and other depraved horrors only hinted at, and when someone finally confronts him, the first thing he says is, “I don’t want to hurt you.” Badass. And another priest, the dreamy Alfonso I mentioned in my first blush review (above), is having all these temptation problems with a young married woman that he is straight-up in love with. It’s crazy! And yes, there are also ass-kicking nuns! Like a whole nunnery full of them!

I mentioned Rosemary’s Baby before? There is a bunch of the city fathers and mothers right out of that movie. There are people who you should be able to trust who are actually devil worshipers, twisted souls who have killed and desecrated many people to try to get a demon to possess them, literally begging to be taken over. And yes, there’s some nauseating sexual aspect to all this too. But in this case, the perverts have a plan, a big one, that all has to do with an upcoming papal visit that is probably not going to go too well. But the conspiracy is deep and interesting and worth watching if you’re into secret cabal situations.

And I should probably mention that this show had one of the most tasteful incidents of a priest performing oral sex on an underage girl that you are like to ever see on network television. I think I actually coughed up some tea during the most “What the hell?!??!” scene I had seen in a long time.

So if you’re not a horror person, stay far, far away from this show. It’s just horror. But if you like schlocky horror of the Catholic variety, this would make a great binge next Halloween or whenever you’re feeling it. The acting was good, the story was fun (in its sick way), and there was a nice visual sense and style to it.

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Outlander Jamie and Claire in bed.

Like ‘Outlander?’ Try These Romantic TV Shows

If you love Outlander, these romantic TV shows, with or without nudie scenes, will get you through Droughtlander.

Recently I had a conversation with a casual fan of Outlander (I count anyone who hasn’t read the books as “casual”) about how much she liked the show for its romantic appeal. Sure, she loved the history and the action, as well as the beautiful locations in Scotland, but it’s the incredible relationship between Claire and Jamie Fraser that kept her watching. However, she, and millions of other Outlander fans, get very frustrated during Droughtlander, when the show is on hiatus. Waiting for new episodes is painful!

To help her get through the sans Outlander period, I recommended watching other romantic TV shows. I sent her a quick email with a list of romantic TV shows she could stream or download, and then I thought, maybe there are other Outlander fans suffering from the same Droughtlander pain. So, I offer a list of romantic TV shows to watch if you’re missing Outlander, some of which are mini-series.

Poldark

Poldark

Ross Poldark comes home to Cornwall, England after fighting in the Revolutionary War. The property he inherited from his dead father is in shambles. The woman he was to marry is now married to his cousin. He faces challenges in a failing economy to get his farm productive again, so he can take care of his tenants and either win back the woman he loves, or find another to love.

Outlander factors: Filming locations in the United Kingdom; takes place in the 18th Century.

Cast connections: Aidan Turner (pictured above) played Kili in The Hobbit with Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal on Outlander.

Reign

Reign

Reign follows Mary Stuart’s story as she becomes Mary, Queen of Scots. Reign isn’t about historical accuracy as much as it is the drama surrounding Mary’s rise to power, and her tragic end. Because Mary, and everyone else at the time, was so young, it’s generally billed as a teen drama. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the intrigue and romance.

Outlander factors: History of Scotland; filming locations in Scotland.

Cast connections: Craig Parker, who plays Lord Narcisse, starred in Spartacus: War of the Damned with Manu Bennett, who played Azog in The Hobbit, with Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal on Outlander.

New Worlds

New Worlds

Charles II has just been restored to the throne in England. On the other side of the Atlantic, colonists are working to stake their claim on the land by battling American Indians. The revolution is on the horizon. New Worlds follows Beth, Hope, Abe and Ned in and out of relationships while they’re struggling with the realities of changing politics. While there’s a good bit of violence, there’s also a lot of romance between the four main cast members.

Outlander factors: History of the United Kingdom; filming locations in the United Kingdom.

Cast connections: None, but Jamie Dornan (second from left, above) stars in Fifty Shades of Grey, which includes Rachel Skarsten, who stars in Reign.

Middlemarch

Middlemarch

In a fictional English town called Middlemarch, Dr. Lydgate wants to establish a hospital. Dorothea Brooke is promised to marry Rev. Edward Casaubon, who is less than an ideal match. The industrial revolution is coming, but many of Middlemarch’s residents are desperately holding onto the old ways.  If you enjoy a good story about unrequited romance, this is the mini-series for you.

Outlander factors: Takes place in the 18th Century; filming locations in the United Kingdom.

Cast connections: None, but Jonathan Firth who plays Fred Vincy starred in the Highlander TV series in 1997.

Rome

Rome

Although Rome has nothing to do with Jacobites or World War II, there are similarities to OutlanderRome is about Julius Caesar, his family and his political struggles, as well as his adopted successor, Octavian Augustus. Rome depicts daily life, as well as the tension between the classes, how they worshiped, and of course, how they loved.

Outlander factors: Historical fiction; examination of a transitional time in an empire; strong thread of spirituality.

Cast connections: Tobias Menzies, who stars as Marcus Junius Brutus, plays Frank Randall / Black Jack Randall in Outlander.

Shogun

Shogun

An English sailor, John Blackthorne, finds himself wrecked in Japan in the 16 Century. He arrives in the middle of a war and must not only prove himself to his hosts, but choose a side and learn to fight like a Samurai. Of course, there is a woman he falls in love with, but who is forbidden. Shogun aired in 1980 and completely captured my pre-pubescent imagination.

Outlander factors: Historical fiction; fish out of water scenario; love between two people from different countries and culture.

Cast connections: None, but John Rhys-Davies, who plays Vasco Rodrigues in Shogun, played Gimli, a dwarf, in the Lord of the Rings movies, like Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal McKenzie in Outlander, played in The Hobbit movies.

I hope one or more of these romantic TV shows gets you through Droughtlander!

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Missing Outlander? Try these romantic TV shows.

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