Swamp Thing: Drive All Night
June 29, 2019 9:47 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Avery cooks soup. Suzie meets her roommate. Dan goes for a drive. Swampy communes with nature. Abby confronts her past. Maria goes wading. Liz has a flat.
posted by sardonyx (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have much to say about this episode. Plenty happened and we got a lot more background about the characters, but it was mostly a case of further complicating things rather than moving towards a resolution.

The random thoughts that hit me while watching this included the following: a) there's an awful lot of classic cars being used as daily drivers by the main characters; b) Abby's lipstick was a terrible colour, and while her coat was very stylish, it really doesn't seem to be the kind of thing to wear around Marais, and c) it appears that when the DC streaming shows want to replace a certain blond, English, Sting-like master of the dark arts, they detour as far away from that physical type as possible, instead preferring dark, portly and bearded types (see Willoughby Kipling in Doom Patrol and this episode's unnamed stranger).

Okay speaking of this stranger, I'm really of mixed opinions about him. I guess it's good that Swampy has got himself a (seemingly) nice, warm, caring friend--he definitely needs some support--but the old comic reader in me kind of hankers to see a pricklier, brusquer mentor/instigator push Swampy's buttons a bit.

As for our mysterious Mr. Nice Guy, I spent way to much mental energy trying to figure out which DC character he might be. It wasn't until I pulled up the IMDB page (to make sure I had the episode title and number correct) and glanced down at the cast list that I realized who he is supposed to be. I vaguely recall hearing that the character was slated to make an appearance, but I haven't really been reading reviews of this or following the coverage as the episodes have gone up, so the character certainly wasn't top of mind. And given how unlike his comic book counterpart he is, I'm not surprised I didn't put two and two together and recognize him. He's a character I've historically had a soft spot for (even if I haven't been too enamoured of relatively recent editorial decisions regarding his past and his place in the DC universe) so I'm, once again, unsure of what my feelings are for this interpretation. I think I may have to take the same attitude I did with most of the characters in Titans: this character may share the same name as one I've read about, but he's not that character.

Moving on to other characters, I'm not sure if we're supposed to interpret Sheriff Cable's actions as being residual effects of the swamp infection or if they're just her natural character traits. Even before being infected, I could picture her being overly protective of Matt (as demonstrated by her dislike of Abby). We also know that she has been seeing Avery, so her enthusiasm towards this episode's encounter could be what she said (life-affirming action celebrating her continued existence) or it could be something more. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

It really feels like they are trying to lay the foundation for a Matt-Abby-Swampy love triangle, that could have played out in future seasons. Since I don't expect to see it have the time to play out (given the short run of the show), it just feels like an unnecessary extra element the writers are trying to pack in.

I'm not sure where they are going with the ghost Shawna and Maria plot. Now that Maria knows the ghost wants her to die (or somehow join her in the swamp) I can't really predict how Maria is going to react. She doesn't really seem like she wants to sacrifice herself even if she wants to continue the relationship. I'm not seeing a way forward for her that makes sense (or maybe I should say makes sense from her perspective and for her as a character).

It's a good thing Woodrue is a botanist because he's certainly chewing the (wood and plant-based) scenery. I got the feeling when he was first introduced that he was going to annoy me, and this is the episode where the performer's acting choices really started to hit that threshold of "too much." When you add them to the acting style of the performer playing Avery, we're firmly in the midst of overacting territory. Even though we don't see much of her, I think I can say the same thing about the Madame Xanadu performance as well (but I blame the writers more for that that the actor).
posted by sardonyx at 10:45 PM on June 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

To be honest, this has been my favorite episode yet. It pretty much seems like they've turned what is ostensibly a show about Swamp Thing into a meandering late night soap starring all the weird DC heroes, and I am here for it. Macon Blair (!) as a hobo-slash-Tom-Bombadil version of The Phantom Stranger? I love it. I'm sure at least five other people love it, too.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:53 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Don't get me wrong. I'm enjoying the show, despite how my posts are probably reading. I just figure if I'm going to the trouble of putting stuff up, I may as well try to put a little bit of meat on the bone, even if I'm not writing actual reviews.

I think the people behind the show wanted to do exactly what you describe: turn it into a hodgepodge of every horror, occult, mystic, supernatural character in the DC stable. They're just not going to get a chance to do it.

I don't know if you saw this, but I missed the callback (but then again, Sandman somehow never really made it into my regular pull list, even though it was the hottest thing going at the time).
posted by sardonyx at 7:15 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, maybe it's shallow of me, but I really wouldn't have minded seeing a tall, elegant, silver fox version of the Stranger. As I said, I've had a soft sport for the character for quite a while.
posted by sardonyx at 7:20 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah! That probably was a callback to that Sandman issue. I mostly associate "In Dreams" with Blue Velvet. Between that, Motley Crue and Belinda Carlisle (in this episode alone!), we definitely can't say DCU's scrimping on the music budget. In fact, the show seems wildly expensive on every level, leading me to wonder if there's truth to the rumors that the show was canceled because it cost more than expected.

I didn't at all mean to suggest you don't enjoy the show -- clearly you do! But I do think it may be a little nichier in its appeal than they hoped.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:36 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I didn't think you were saying I wasn't enjoying the show. I just figured I should make it clear because most of my comments have been nitpicky at best.

I do suspect you're right in that this is more of a niche property than DC expected, but then again, I don't know how broad an appeal they thought it would have. If they cared about broad appeal, they would have treated Titans a bit differently. That set off a bumpy relationship with viewers who are expected to pony up extra to watch these shows. Neither Swamp Thing nor Doom Patrol can really be considered A or B-list properties, although I guess Swamp Thing has better name recognition thanks to the movies, but it's still a horror show on a super hero network. As for the upcoming Star Girl, I have no idea who they expect will watch that. If they're gearing it for a younger, female audience (like Supergirl) I can image that will be a tough sell for parents to add an extra streaming service. If it's for hard-core comic fans, I can think of dozens of characters that would come out ahead on surveys of which characters deserve live-action adaptations. Plus, Star Girl is so tied to the JSA and there's a whole pile of backstory that's just an added impediment to non-comic readers. Sadly, I suspect somebody just wants a show with a young pretty blonde in short shorts.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if costs played a major role in why this got canned. I can also see some TV executive flipping out because there aren't wacky characters (Doom Patrol) in colorful costumes (every other super hero show except maybe Titans). Somehow I get the feeling this was just a bridge too far.
posted by sardonyx at 7:56 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

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