And then there's the teenage sword-slinger Blade (portrayed by Bea Binene). Obviously, the first Blade you'd think of would be Marvel's vampire slayer, made popular on film by Wesley Snipes. But then, there's also a villain named Blade in the Masters of the Universe series (you know, He-Man?). And then there's Kamen Rider Blade and Tekkaman Blade, and I'm kinda sure there are a bunch of others. The CB writers were probably just thinking of a name for a sword-wielding heroine, and they just settled on Blade. So I'd chalk it up to laziness more than anything else.
Another member is Sonica, played by singer Frencheska Farr (why are most of the members female?), who has sonic-scream powers. Of course you'd say, "Heh, they're ripping-off Black Canary," but I'd give it a pass if only because the characters' backgrounds, personalities and appearances are different. Besides, there are other sonic-screamers like Siryn, Banshee and the Black Bolt, so it's a pretty common superhero power (I think even Superman did it once). Similar powers are fine, as long as you do something different with the character.
It may sound like I'm making excuses for these characters, but the thing is, what constitutes a rip-off to me is when you borrow/steal from an existing concept, present it in a manner that is virtually similar to the original with very little variation, and pass it off as a completely new creation. While it's a given that the Liga is capitalizing on the JLA, it doesn't really mirror them in any significant way. The way it looks, the show appears to be making some effort to avoid being a shameless imitation (or at the very least, they're trying not to be too blatant about it). Case in point, early teasers for the series actually referred to the group as Team Kalasag ("Team Shield"). My guess is that they changed the name after someone pointed out it's too similar to a certain US agency headed by a guy wearing an eyepatch.
There's hardly even a mention of Captain Barbell's origin from the previous series (which is just as well; let's just pretend that "Smallbell" crap never existed). It would seem that the new show has learned from the pitfalls of the old one. Although they did have a fakeout moment when, at the end of their April 5 episode, the preview for the next episode showed the Captain being summoned by A "CB" SIGNAL.
Fortunately, that little bit was removed once the actual episode aired, so either someone caught it in time and made the necessary corrections, or it may have been a deliberate prank to see if anyone was paying attention. Whichever the case, I'll let it slide, but I had better not see that damn signal again.
But you know what I find really weird? That in a show that has superhuman characters all over the place, the least believable part of it for me is that the Philippine government can afford things like an ultra high-tech law enforcement organization, futuristic weaponry and a supervillain prison. I don't know, I can buy stuff like that in a comic book, but I just can't get myself to go along with it in a live-action show. And CB isn't the only show who has done this, other shows tend to portray a technologically-advanced vision of the country. Sure, I suppose they just want to depict our nation in an optimistic light, but suspension of disbelief can only go so far. I just find it funny.
Speaking of funny, one thing that the show is largely lacking in is humor. Sure, there are humorous moments provided by child star Jillian Ward as Teng's adopted daughter Lelay, and they recently reintroduced Teng's comic foil Bobby (Ryan Yllana) from the previous show. And even TJ Trinidad as the villain Metal Man (these writers sure come up with such imaginative names) can get wickedly funny at times. But the series' overall tone (not to mention the title character himself) is still way too serious. I mean, let's face it, you don't come up with a title like "Captain Barbell" with a straight face. Humor is a significant part of the CB mythos; it's no accident that in previous filmed incarnations of the character, his alter-ego was always played by a comedian. Heck, in the original komiks, Tenteng was practically designed after Dolphy. Basically, Captain Barbell is a hero who shouldn't need to have a comic relief, because his alter-ego is the comic relief.
Unfortunately, Teng's angsty personality in the show is already too well-established to suddenly turn him into a funny guy, and I wouldn't know how good Richard Gutierrez is at comedy anyway. As for his portrayal of CB, he comes off as rather moody and somewhat distracted. He has this tendency of staring off into space; might as well call him Captain Catatonic. Okay, we get it, superheroing is serious business, power and responsibility and all that. But crack a smile every once in a while, quip at the bad guys, just... LIGHTEN UP!
I can go on about this show, but this review has gone on long enough, whatever else I have left to say is really little more than nitpicking, and I think I've already touched upon the show's main virtues and flaws. The bottom line is, it may not be quite as good as it could be, but it's not as bad as it could have been, and certainly not as terrible as its predecessor was. There's still room for improvement, but I'd say at least half the room's filled already. On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd rate it a 3.
But my warning stands. No more CB signals. Or else, I'll take your damn signal, shine it up real good, hold it up, turn it sideways, and shove it straight up where the sun don't shine. I mean it.