I’m back, baby! If you were an avid follower of this blog I apologize for the hiatus, but let’s be honest after a few years away you are probably not checking back for new material by this point. You’ve moved on to bigger and better blogs. *snif* *snif* If you’ve made your way back, then thank you for your ongoing support. During this break I have been venturing more into the world of podcasts and you can hear all the nerdy conversations from the past two years with “Geekspotting.” Let’s just jump right into this. We are far enough into pilot season to fully analyze the new shows of interest (I was mostly waiting for Constantine to show a few episodes).
Honestly, TV shows based on a comic book are not anything new. When it comes to currnetly-running TV shows we still have the likes of The Walking Dead, Arrow and Agents of SHIELD for older audiences (there will never be a shortage of cartoons, but those come and go). The strange thing about all of the newcomers this year is they all are coming from the same publisher, DC Comics. It seems, as of late, that the fashionable thing to do amongst the nerd community is to crap all over DC. I attribute this mainly to the overwhelming success of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Mainstream culture can easily grasp onto box office reports and we can easily forget that nowadays intellectual properties easily span across mediums quite easily. Just because DC may not be showing as much promise on the silver screen doesn’t mean that everything they make is garbage.
The advantage that DC‘s model has over Marvel is that they will let other creative group’s make something from their properties. This comes with uncertainty of quality sure, but luckily for DC (and us) the newest batch of superhero TV shows seem to be really, really good. Between Gotham, Constantine, and The Flash there is a different type of show for various audiences. Now we can only hope that the quality stays up to par with pop culture snobs like me. More often than not it seems that shows start hot and fizzle out. We’ll wait to see how the general populace responds to this sudden influx of DC.
By far The Flash is my favorite when it comes to new comic book shows and mostly because of the superhero cliches. For a while the popularity of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy made everyone clamor for a dark, gritty version of every superhero. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The only problem with this mentality is that we have forgotten our superhero roots. The Flash has reminded us of what we once loved about DC. The purity of the superhero genre is to have fun. Sure there can be some dramatic moments where Barry Allen gets all emotional, but it’s nowhere as brooding as the Arrow can be. It also sets up plenty of future stories and characters in upcoming seasons without being heavy handed (I’m getting to you Gotham). Even though it’s a spin-off of Arrow you need to know nothing except that the Arrow exists in a neighboring city. It’s the one superhero show that I look forward to all week and is the first one that I recommend when talking to anyone.
As a straight up police procedural Gotham gets a “B.” It’s interesting, but to the comic book layperson it’s not incredibly compelling. For those familiar with Batman characters in this Batman-less universe the journeys of the characters are interesting if you’re curious where they are going to end up, but often the references as to who their comic book counterparts are seem to be shoved down your throat. These references seem to exist for this weird subsection between die-hard Batman fans and normal people that need the *wink wink nudge nudge*. For everyone else it is either obtrusive or goes by as incredible stiff dialogue. I may seem like I’m dumping on the show, but I actually really enjoy it. When you’re touching a property that’s as popular as Batman you can’t help but analyze it this thoroughly. It’s not quite as good as the comic Gotham Central, but that show wouldn’t work without Batman already existing. Who knows maybe the show can evolve into a world where Batman is rarely seen and we only see Gotham City from the viewpoint of a disgruntled and seemingly powerless police force. For more of the subject be sure to listen this episode of Geekspotting about what we thought of the show.
Out of the new comic book shows this is the one that I am the least familiar with the source material. At the time of writing this post there have only been two episodes that have aired. The casting seems perfect and the production value of the show is top notch. It has the basics of any successful show, each episode seems to hold their own while at the same time threading a through story to keep you watching week to week. It has the feel of a supernatural procedural a la Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The effects are actually pretty frightening especially considering that the show airs on NBC. If you like Doctor Who but are more into demons than science fiction you might like this show. Really makes me want to go and read the Hellblazer comics as well.
Let’s see how audiences react to this new wave of comic book shows. My personal guess is that Constantine won’t do as well considering most people are not familiar with the material, NBC didn’t advertise it particularly well, and it airs on Friday nights. Not usually a winning combination for anyone.