If you’ve already listened to the second episode of The Superhero Hour Hour, PopFilter’s new podcast that focuses strictly on comic book TV, you know that The Flash (pun about speed) right into me and Mike’s collective heart. Could it be that TV has finally figured out how to a superhero show, as opposed to just a superhero-adjacent show? This is why my heart sank when, about 20 minutes into Kingdom, I thought to myself that this show might be good. And it is pretty good. They’re both pretty good, showing a lot of promise with a lot of flaws. I’m going to have to nitpick here.
Although both episodes are too busy for their own good (as pilots are wont to be), all of the balls The Flash is juggling seem to serve the same purpose: let’s get this fuckin’ world built, and this fuckin’ origin over with, so we can get on with our fuckin’ lives. Maybe an ideal world would give us a season long Flash origin, where we could slow play everything that goes into turning a geek into a super hero, but that seems like it would be asking for a lot, even from The CW. Instead, the pilot makes it so that the second episode is ready for its first freak-of-the-week adventure, while planting seeds about the origin that can bloom in future episodes. Again, not ideal, but as good as could be expected.
I’d say about 75 percent of Kingdom also gets the “origin” story right. We’re thrown into the middle of a family that has drama coming out of their cauliflowered ears. Between ex-MMA fighter Alvey and his failing gym, his rising star son, his piece-of-shit son, his friend that was just released from prison, and his girlfriend, who used to be with his friend that was just released in prison, Kingdom has enough family drama to watch in between the staging of fights. Unfortunately, this just isn’t enough for Kingdom, and it really buries an otherwise promising pilot. Not content to just focus on the people that run this gym, the episode is bookended by two cholos so stereotypical that Speedy Gonzalez would have to smack his head. Towards the end of the episode, we get a scene with Alvey’s piece-of-shit son handing money to a whore WHO IS ALSO HIS MOTHER for seemingly no narrative reason. Alvey’s ex-wife could have been a character introduced at any point in the show’s run, but they felt it had to be crammed in here.
Not to beat a dead horse, but one of the more helpful things that Kingdom can do is figure out what network it wants to be on. If it’s HBO, which it seems to think, then slow it down, and show us the small, more meaningful drama inside of this family. If it wants to be on FX, which is cool too, then the mother/whore shit is fine, but it needs to take itself more seriously. The Flash knows it’s on The CW and that – I never thought I’d say this – is a large part of why it’s moving on.
– Ryan Haley