Comic book TV
I know I just talked about Smallville last week, but since it was recently announced that Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson have “The Graysons” in development, I felt the need to take a look at the subject of comic book TV in general.
Of course, the old Adventures of Superman show in the 1950s was great. I can’t say that I own the seasons or have spent oodles of time analyzing them, but the writers, and the actors, got it right in the context of the time frame in which they operated.
And then, we get the Batman series from the 1960s and the Wonder Woman show from the 1970s. Honestly, I’ve seen more of the Batman show than Wonder Woman. I think Adam West and Lynda Carter are still trying to recover from overdosing on campy television. We sure know their careers never recovered completely, though Adam West still takes advantage of his former status whenever he can.
I’m not even sure the Superboy series from the late 1980s deserves mention. The few episodes I watched didn’t hold up over time, simply because it looked like the production company was more interested in exploiting the big S more than it was interested in picking talented actors, coming up with good scripts, and making the effects look believable for the late 80s. The Flash was actually a good series, but it got absolutely no backing from CBS, who constantly was shuffling the show within the TV schedule and forbidding it from getting a good following. I will say that John Wesley Shipp doesn’t make a good Barry Allen to me though, and that the Flash costume looked more felt-like and snuggly than the sleek and vibrant red that I normally relate with the Flash.
This paragraph is dedicated to Birds of Prey and will last about as long as the show itself.
Most people remember Lois and Clark. Good show for the relationship aspect of those characters, but not so much when it came to the villains. I also believe that the producers let DC push them around too much when it came to what they could and couldn’t do on the show. Of course, DC made them put off the wedding, which turned out to be the one thing that was keeping the show interesting in the first place. Once they were married, there was a collective bye-bye wave to the romantic tension and therefore any purpose for the show.
I don’t think I need to talk too much about the success of Smallville. Say what you will about how much they’ve changed of the Superman mythology, but the show is on its eighth season and now finally starting to move Clark toward his destiny. The producers have made changed to his history, but none of them have been so drastic as to completely ruin the character and make him unrecognizable. If nothing else, the show is successful because it made the world aware of the awesomeness that is Tom Welling, who has proven to us that not only can he play a dopey Clark Kent, but he can be funny, play the bad guy, look really good without a shirt on, and direct multiple episodes of the show all without ending up on the front page of the tabloids.
I don’t want to make snap judgments about The Graysons yet, since the concept was just announced a couple weeks ago. However, I have to wonder what could be so compelling about a family of trapeze artists. I like the character of Dick Grayson, but I’m of the mindset that a series with him as the central character would work better if he was Nightwing. The failure of Aquaman was a BIG mistake by the CW network executives; I think everyone agrees on that point. There’s just something wrong when an unaired pilot is the most downloaded show on iTunes.
From the popularity of the Green Arrow on Smallville, I would think that the producers would build off the character and give Justin Hartley his own show already. Possibilities for supporting cast are already built in, with the likes of Black Canary, Roy Harper, Arthur Currie/Aquaman, Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Bart Allen/Impulse. And let’s not forget that Oliver is a bit of a ladies’ man at heart – he had a child he didn’t know about as well as cheated on Dinah a number of times before they finally tied the knot. The possibilities to add on to the Justice League are there, as well as guest appearances by Smallville cast members he has built relationships with during his stints on the show.
Regardless, Smallville surviving for eight seasons proves that there is a market for superhero shows on television. The question is whether or not they can be done convincingly and well. I hope so, because I hate writing one sentence paragraphs.
By Mandy Stegall