A New Hero! A New Legend! So much to unpack and examine!

Hey, let me talk about Doctor Who for a minute.

I got into Doctor Who in 2005, same as a lot of modern fans. Chris Eccleston, Russell Davies, Billie Piper, that whole crew. I was aware of Doctor Who before that, of course. I had friends who grew up on Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy, were in fan clubs and ead Doctor Who Magazine. But it always looked so cheesy to me, hopelessly retro. If you don't have the nostalgia of youth, those rose-colored glasses, it's difficult to see past all of the cheap sets and corny music and stilited performances. It was a different era when those shows were made, but I'm watching them in this era. It wasn't until a fresh, modern version of Doctor Who came along that I could really invest in the franchise, where I could enjoy it without having to excuse anything. It was a fun, well-made show, not some relic of the past.

Hey, speaking of "relic of the past":

So, Kuuga. I, uh, I was not prepared for Kuuga.

I am going to try very hard to judge this show on its own merits. Very hard. Because, you guys, it would be so, so easy to just shit all over the production values. It would be totally unfair, after having just watched 2018's Build, to compare it to 1999's Kuuga. Unfair, but so easy. The video tape looks laughably outdated, the pace is glacial, the fights are mostly two men who can barely move shoving each other, the special effects call the wrong attention to themselves... It's a lot to ignore. It is a lot.

But, why shit all over it? What would the point be of that? You don't need me to chastise a 1999 TV show for looking like it was shot in 1999. Yeah, it looks cheap compared to 2019 visuals, but there's always been more to Kamen Rider than production values, right?

On its own terms, the first couple episodes of Kuuga are solid, if not terribly exciting. Godai comes off as a slightly goofier take on your standard superhero. Ichijou is the gruff lawman, looking to sideline the vigilante until he realizes that he gets results, dammit. Sakurako has some cute scenes, showcasing her skills without really pushing the story forward. No one really made a huge impression on me, they were all just sort-of there.

It's weird how light the stories seemed. The monster fights take a while, which eats up screen time, but the rest of the episodes don't do that much. A character goes to a place, leaves, comes back, fights a monster. The monsters thus far don't have any apparent goals, there's no sense of what they want. They just menace people, and Kuuga has to fight them. There isn't much specific motivation yet for Godai, just Justice and I Don't Want People To Cry. The stories so far hit the beats, they tell a story, but there's precious little to talk about from them. They're just there. Thematically, they aren't about anything. Visually, they're not shot or staged in dynamic ways. Character-wise, the performances are professional but lacking idiosyncrasy. (Okay, Godai gets some fun line readings, and the way he throws himself into being a Masked Rider has an appealing earnestness to it, even if it feels lower-key than I'd like.)

I don't want to say these episodes were boring. It wasn't that, exactly. But it just felt so generic. It felt like I was watching Superhero Show, not Masked Rider Kuuga. I wanted some specific flavor, and I got a bland but filling broth.