Television pilots are tough to make. It’s hard to introduce the concept and entire cast of characters of a show in one episode and still have that episode hold up on it’s own. But just because something’s hard doesn’t make it any more excusable when you fail spectacularly at doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Black Box, where we check out pilots that crashed and burned to see exactly what went wrong.
This week, we do another superhero show because I wanted to.
Justice League of America was a half hour television pilot produced by CBS with the intention of it being a part of the 1997 fall lineup. It was never picked up or even aired in the United States, but thanks to British television and widespread bootlegging, it eventually found its way to our shores. The plot follows meteorologist Tori Olafsdotter as she gains superpowers and joins the Justice League.
What they did right: The show is pretty clearly based on the Justice league International years of the team, which are pretty great. As a result, this pilot is fun, if completely insane on a lot of levels.
What they did wrong: This pilot is weeeeeeiiiiiiiirrrrrrd. First off, it’s crazy low budget in am embarrassing way. All the costumes look terrible as heck and the computer effects are kinda the worstestest.
Both my points are illustrated through this image.
So we start with meteorologist Tori Olafsdotter (Tora Oalafsdotter is the comics) who works at the Eno institute. She notices a freak tornado which is stopped by the Flash. The tornado was apparently the product of a super villain named the Weatherman (who is pretty clearly supposed to be the Weather Wizard).
Tori discovers a mysterious device in the lab where she works. She pours water down the back and is blasted with amazing superpowers, gaining the ability to… well, in the comics she can shoot ice blasts but in this show she just seems to be able to freeze water from a distance. She then meets the rest of the League, led by the wonderful Martian Manhunter.
Did I say wonderful? I meant soul-consumingly terrifying. The team welcome Tori and the Atom starts awkwardly flirting with her. The team heads out to adventure and we finally get clarification on which Green Lantern this is. It’s Guy Gardener. You know, the one who’s a dick.
Seeing the team altogether really just clarifies how hilarious everyone looks.
The Atom looks like he belongs to the American Gladiator Space Program. Fire looks like a stripper cosplaying as poison ivy. No, not the super villain, the plant. The Flash looks not super bad but still pretty bad. Green Lantern looks like Marty McFly on St. Patrick’s Day. Ice looks… great, i’m not gonna lie.
Then we get the most baffling part of the episode. This thing has reality show style interviews.
Not a joke.
I… I am confused. This was before The Office, so what is it trying to rip off? Who are these interviews being conducted for? Don’t they all have secret identities?
Whatever, so Ice and Green Lantern beat Weather Wizard while the rest of the league save civilians. (Except for Martian Manhunter, who just sits on his fat ass all day). And then our JLA is assembled once and for all.
Can I be honest? I really had fun with this pilot. I like fun, and it was kinda goofy fun.Seriously, if you got nothing to do get tanked and get some friends together and give it a watch.
Next week, I think I’m gonna keep reviewing superhero shows. It’s fun for me and there are a lot of them. but this next one is anything but Wonderful.