Speed and Superheroes

I haven’t been much aware of a good number of superheroes during my childhood, most of these people being popular ones these days – it was mostly the game of four at that time, with the four people with names ending with “man”; Spider-Man, He-Man, Batman and Superman along with some regular dose from The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician. Due to Defenders of the Earth cartoon, the one Flash whom I came to know later was Flash Gordon and I never really liked him.

The Flash became known to me more with those animated movies having Justice League of America as the centre of attraction. But the first version of him which was not animated, came to me with the television series called Arrow about which I have mentioned before on this blog. The episode featuring him as the superhero was not that interesting, but he surely caught some attention with that one. Then there was this television series with him as the central character, more like a spin-off from Arrow.

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The television series has been a pretty interesting one; The Flash is without doubt another nice superhero stuff for us to watch. I have felt that a movie would do just fine with this superhero and the stories of lightning speed. As you would guess, I had my doubts about this superhero, but they were erased in a flash. Grant Gustin rightly makes the character enjoyable here. My favourite one here would be Danielle Panabaker as Dr. Caitlin Snow whom I surely remember from a number of horror movies – Friday the 13th, The Crazies, The Ward and Piranha 3DD; that is a nice list even though not exactly the ones to be rated very highly as individual movies.

Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Harrison Wells and Jesse L. Martin as Joe West are two others whom I have felt to be deserving the mention – I have felt something special about these characters too. Carlos Valdes provides the humour here as Cisco Ramon. Well, the characters work really well with this television series, and there are some episodes which really make us want to watch the next – I have only watched the first season, and all my thoughts about the series came from there. With how that season ended and from what I have heard about the next season, I am surely looking forward to watching season two soon.

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Even though I like both Arrow and The Flash, I have been more attached to Arrow than the latter as it is darker, and has the super-powers kept to minimum – there is just the presence of some vaccines rather than the meta-human, super-villain, superhero collection in The Flash. I have also felt that all the characters in Arrow have something more – the love angle of The Flash remains a let-down too, with the two main characters. Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak is the best possible factor in both the series combined, and the hardworking hero also makes Arrow closer to the heart.

You know that the action sequences are better with Arrow too; but The Flash uses the special effects to its advantage, and this difference between the two has been more like the same between Batman and Superman – I used to like that latter more when I was a kid, and now I prefer the former. There is one is the grand hero with those special powers and the other, a millionaire who has changed to become the vigilante who fights in the darkness. The world itself has changed, and so the change of preference was to come at some point.

The suspense factor also has Arrow edging ahead, and the tension in both series remains pretty much high, even though The Flash has the terrible romance between the two main characters making things go wrong. The love triangle of The Flash is the one thing that stretches the series and brings it down. Romantic melodrama should be the least of one’s concern in a superhero flick or series, if you ask me. But in the end, you will love this television series too. Well, The Flash has some very nice villains, and that is a strong point there – the series also remains steady, unlike Arrow which has its ups and downs.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of the television series, The Flash.

TeNy

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Satire of White Elephants

Even though Marimayam of Mazhavil Manorama is the better known satire on Malayalam television channels, there is another program which is aired at 10:30 PM every Saturday and Sunday, keeping a high standard for itself too. Vellanakalude Nadu, the satire shown on Asianet has its name inspired from the 1988 drama satire directed by Priyadarshan, scripted by Sreenivasan and produced by Maniyanpilla Raju. It had Mohanlal and Shobhana in the leading roles supported by a fine group of popular names of that time.

With its memorable comic scenes and its work as a political satire on the system as well as the people who were around it, the movie is often considered as a classic even though its Hindi remake Khatta Meeta with Akshay Kumar and Trisha Krishnan in the lead roles didn’t do that much. Translated as “The Land of White Elephants” with its title, this television series deals with the random situations that a common household come against, and it usually has someone from outside trying to interfere with their lives.

The last week’s episode had the protagonists, Sivadasan and Kunjumol being fooled in the name of providing visa to work in the Middle East. It is a commonly used idea, and the episode actually added an addition layer to it along with creating some more funny situations with the neighbours and the relatives. Cheating related to visa has been quite common with agents making fools of the people who are in need of an urgent job. Such characters are also common, making an appearance also in the recently released realistic flick, Pathemari.

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All the stories revolve around the two protagonists, and the rest of the cast actually changes their personalities. Susu is the neighbour and friend of Kunjumol, but both friends are jealous of each other. Susu’s husband is played by two actors, one playing the character called Vinod and another Jimmy. Both characters are part of the television series in one role or the other, with one who doesn’t play the husband role plays another person in the locality. Another character is Manjulan who comes up with something new every episode.

The rest of the characters include the sister and brother-in-law of Sivadasan along with two other characters from the locality. The need for them arises according to the story of the episode. There are times when the story is almost fully shot inside one house only. Sometimes there will be more focus on the different offices. The episode usually starts with Sivadasan and Kunjumol, ending it also with them, with other characters dropping in between. There have been a few exceptions about it though.

There have been a good number of interesting episodes in Vellanakalude Nadu, and almost all of them have left some nice and valuable messages on the society. There was one episode which dealt with the mobile tower related issue and another one with the phenomenon of fake certificates. The issue of companies making false promises towards its customers, was one of the best taken episodes. They could even take the common problem of alcoholism and bring the message in a very interesting way.

The advantage of this program is that the cast is not just very good, but they are also a lot suitable for the characters which they play here. The earlier episodes were different though, set more in the offices than anywhere else in the Marimayam style, and the characters were also somewhat different, even with the core remaining the same. The change of the focus to houses instead of the offices has helped the program to bring an identity of its own, different from Marimayam, and it has been a good positive thing which will make sure that the program does better!

***The image used in this blog post is a screenshot of the first screen of a video shared by Asianet.

TeNy