The nature of legacy shows resounds in their ability to highlight and enhance without losing what they were in earlier incarnations. “Two & A Half Men” has been the most prevalent viewpoint in the last year with the departure of Charlie Sheen and eventual replacement by Ashton Kutcher but approaching characters like Batman and the vastness of the Star Wars universe holds its perils as well.
Batman: Brave & The Bold Interacting with the lore and mythology of other characters within the guise of Batman allows the creators to show and gauge the interest of fans (or the writers themselves) of how interesting certain backstories run. Highlighting lesser known vintage characters like The Atom or exploring the essence of sequel prowess with Green Lantern’s handling of Star Sapphire shows the possibility of them against those backdrops without having to worry about logic. However, something like traveling through time to save different incarnations of Batman so he can exist in the current timeline is straining belief but the creative team knows that this is a chance to go off the rails before the next series inevitably return to darkness.
The Clone Wars Making the mythology more vast and intrinsic without overcoming the basic nature of the universe it has a created is a daunting task especially when you are writing the backstories of several of the species in later films. What this show tends to do, in short order, with adequate results, is create a depth of structure where the features just laid the ground work. Two story progressions this season so far show this both with the “Water War” progression with the Gungans and the Mon Calamari which dictate certain emotional responses in terms of war structure. By contrast, the episodes with General Krell where he displays a lack of empathy and regard to the clones results in a mutiny of sorts that creates a microcosm of battle command in its simplest form wrestling the idea away from being purely Jedi=centric.
The Big Bang Theory The indiosyncrasies of the core bunch continue to grow but what Chuck Lorre has learned to do is spin moons within the planetary configuration of the core five specifically with Howard’s fiance and Amy, Sheldon’s would-be girlfriend. The show has always been about social inadequacy and how technology and simple awkwardness make the possibility of these people connecting even more so. By changing the dynamic, especially with Penny, the idea becomes more of a wingman persona with all these people moving out in different directions on their own while still remaining a core group with varying circumstances and results.
Two & A Half Men In resurrecting the show after the unfortunate inevitable departure of Charlie Sheen, one would have thought it would be disastrous without him. The way however the writers have maintained shows a distinct undeniable truth that the writing, if done in a very specific way without negating or denying Sheen’s influence and still having a snarky but not mean edge towards its former star, shows an effective overhaul. You realize how key the bumbling mannerisms of Jon Cryer truly anchor the show and magnifies the everyman quality of it. Ashton Kutcher’s character is not a Charlie Harper but takes on a more cool quality from creator Chuck Lorre’s other show “The Big Bang Theory” in that certain qualities can be good and bad. An especially good two episode arch involves Alan (Cryer) and his worst day as well as a psychotic break where he reverts and tries to emulate his brother. It is neat because it addresses the good and bad sides of Charlie Harper while showing empathy. It might not be the Charlie show anymore but it does show that it can survive with dignity and darkness without him.
The aspect of mythology within some shows can often create a weight that they are unable to pull out from. While the ideas might be just, sometimes a simple idea combined with a cinematic superlative can be much more effective. The balance of this can be found in the latter two shows below on Cartoon Network which while not always on the mark are riveted by moments of brilliance. The key as always is balance.
Heroes The reflection of last year’s Jekyll & Hyde solution to the Sylar Problem created more plot holes than deemed inherently necessary. Despite this, the opening elements of Season 2 seemed to have a bit of epic in them before the progression reconstituted to a more “Carnivale” setting which was less than impressive. All the characters save really for Claire have undergone so many changes that their intentions and wants are quite unnecessary at this point. Sylar’s consciousness and mind grabbing in the life of the all powerful Matt is almost reduced to mere melodrama which doesn’t not intensify the viewer. The writing tends to be on the wall and the reality is that if one can see the lines then the possibilities of the show are in trouble. Despite its lore and the greatness of its first two seasons, unfortunately “Heroes” seems to have worn out its welcome because it didn’t make the stakes high enough. Disasters need to happen and villains (and heroes) must fall.
Dollhouse The conception of where the series leads depends on its ability to show a rebellion of sorts. The mythic conception of the show requires that there be inherent risks. This possibility begins but its outcome is unsure. The inception of this season begins to show the cracks in Echo (played by Eliza Dushku) as well as the false back perceptions of characters like Madeline and especially Sierra. The stakes start to be elevated in terms of having something to lose. The motivation of this series is that control will eventually be lost causing something undeniably bad to happen. However, the story progression still has not reached full stride despite the fact that its potential continues to grow. The problem becomes time because despite fan support, the maintaining of such a complex show is sometimes a quandry in itself.
Batman: The Brave & The Bold The continuation of this play against the norm works because it is a little out there. To initiate the season, a musical episode both made fun and embraced the zany element with Neil Patrick Harris guesting as “The Music Meister”. Actually the execution wasn’t too bad and offered an interesting dichotomy within the structure not unlike “Dr. Horrible” by extension with a bit of the old Warner cool look. The obvious parallel works in “The Phantom Of The Opera” while in the second episode the intent of a “Death Race” places villians and heroes in an all new structure. The genre game begins in earnest but unlike stayed and true formats, Batman overall has been done before. However, this new approach offers something quite niche but ultimately creatively inventive as the long as permission holds.
Robot Chicken The interim of this popular stop motion series depends greatly on being able to make fresh elements without retreading too much ground. This becomes more difficult over time as the creative team must bring into being new and decidely different comic approaches to material. Granted “The Dark Knight” is referenced more than a couple times in the first episodes and the Thor entry, only in play because of the impending movie, misfires. However a “Dark Crystal” rap parody despite being a bit outside the collective consciousness is surprising fresh. The banging robot and Stallone hitting the head with a girly magazine mumbling “Here we go!” still gets great response. The aspect becomes how far do you push? The Dr. Suess parody involving a blue elephant and crackhead kangaroo is gut busting but undeniably might run too far while Captain Kick Ass cleans up shop. The series is touch and go but still has a consistent funny.