Parades and pigskin aside, there wasn’t much happening on television during the week of Thanksgiving. But for the past seven days? The box has been overstuffed. While various series are racing toward their seasonal end games, the networks have begun trotting out some early holiday diversions, hoping to capitalize on the viewers who are already eager to surround themselves with mistletoe and holly. There were even a few premieres last week, including a sneak preview of NBC’s new sitcom Superstore, the return of Bravo’s Top Chef, and a single-episode sneak-peek for the return of Amazon’s Transparent. (Look for more on this show next week once the whole phenomenal sophomore season has been uploaded.)
This week, we’re taking a moment to praise one powerhouse finale (which we’re hoping won’t be for the whole series) and soak in a holiday special from a most unlikely-but-welcome source. Ah, but are there superheroes, you may ask? How about a half-dozen or so, packed into two hours, spread across consecutive nights, bringing joy to the world … or at least to the part of the globe that likes comic books.
5. The Big Crossover: The Flash and Arrow (The CW)
Consider this paradox: Both of these DC superhero series are at their shakiest whenever they’re piling on characters and juggling subplots — and yet each time these shows have done crossover two-parters, they’ve been among their respective best episodes. Last week’s “Legends of Today”/”Legends of Yesterday” double-dip was designed to set up next year’s spinoff series, called, inevitably, Legends of Tomorrow. The result: They were a bit of a mess on the storytelling side, introducing the all-powerful immortal villain Vandal Savage and then quickly besting him with an iffy bit of loophole-closing time-travel. And yet, for a certain breed of geeky aficionado, these episodes were a too-brief trip to masked-crusader nirvana.
For two nights in a row, DC Comics fans got to see Barry Allen palling around with Oliver Queen, and Felicity Smoak nerding out with Cisco Ramon, and big action sequences involving Black Canary, Speedy, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and John Diggle. In a way, these two shows don’t really fit together all that well, given that Arrow is moody and gritty and The Flash … well, Barry put it best last week when he told Oliver, “My world is stranger than yours.” But the darkness of one series balances the lightness of the other. And while it’d be exhausting to follow all of these heroes week after week, it’s a gas to get them all in one place, thus realizing the dreams of every kid who ever spent hours sprawled out on the floor with stacks of old Justice Leagues.