DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow has become one of The CW’s—nay, television’s—most consistently entertaining series. It’s also one of the most self-referential (example: An earlier episode this season included reference to an office’s Taco Monday, leading one character to say they “dare to defy.”) But it didn’t start that way! The first season had some highs, but it also had lots of lows. And last night, Legends flexed its “we’re very entertaining and also self-aware” muscles by directly quoting our own Oliver Sava’s D+ review of season one’s “Last Refuge.”
The context is very Legends: Sara Lance (Arrowverse MVP Caity Lotz) and partner Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan) are in bed, settling in to watch a (fictional) horror movie called Swamp Thaaaang, a film which horror buff Sara doesn’t recognize. They look it up, learn it’s called Thaaaang because it’s the fourth in the franchise, and that it’s based on actual events at a summer camp in the ’90s. That’s the part that’s actually relevant to the plot, because they rightly suspect that a magical “swampy monster thing” (though not actually Swamp Thing) has popped up and corrupted the timeline. Then they go back in time to save the campers through the power of magic, martial arts, and outdoor survival skills. (This is a good show.)
But on that Metacritic-lookin’ page they reference, they also find a pull quote from a review. Ava: “The A.V. Club gave it a D+, saying, ‘The production design is as lazy as the action staging.’” Sara: “Harsh!”
Feast your eyes on this paragraph, from Oliver’s aforementioned review, which bears the headline “Legends Of Tomorrow hits a new low with a nonsensical Terminator riff”:
The design is as lazy as the action staging, which there is hardly any of because The Pilgrim can manipulate time in the immediate area surrounding her. So instead of a dynamic fight, we get a sustained shot slowly moving through bodies frozen in time, showing characters leaping into action and shooting a variety of colorful beams. It’s cool at first and then it starts to get tedious as the camera lingers over to each individual member, but it does end with the dramatic tableau of the final shot showing what all these disparate elements look like from a distance. That image requires a certain amount of care and specificity to construct, but it’s unfortunately one of the only elements in this messy episode that can be described as such.
Reviewing a show that then references your publication’s reviews is a very strange, but not unpleasant, experience. Thanks for the shoutout, Legends! And for the record, last night’s episode would have been an A- without the nod.