Welcome back to Channel Chaser! I don’t want to sound like a broken record because I feel like I’ve been talking a lot about TV shows based on comics recently, but there’s a few new shows out there that have me really excited. More than that, I’d like to make a rather controversial case about DC, one of the flagship comic labels of modern times.
I know I might be out of line with most people on this, but personally, none of the DC-based movies that have come out recently have really wowed me. Man of Steel, the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern have all failed to impress. DC’s rival Marvel, on the other hand, continues to churn out quality films time after time.
The problem Marvel runs into is that its success does not apparently translate well into episodic television. When they tried to expand their brand into TV land with Agents of SHIELD, things didn’t go very well; honestly, the show is pretty awful.
DC, on the other hand, has made some impressive strides on cable. While Smallville, which ended several years ago now, was a bit shaky, later additions such as the CW’s Arrow have shown a lot of promise with their fast-paced plots and interesting, dynamic characters.
I’d like to politely suggest to the people running DC these days that they readjust their focus and concentrate on doing what they apparently do best: episodic television. Let Marvel have their massive movie franchise and instead compete with them on a playing field that DC clearly dominates so far.
What’s my evidence? Well, it just so happens that DC released promotional information for a slew of new shows based on their characters. Here is what we can expect, in a nutshell.
1. The Flash (CW)
The Flash tops my list of shows to look forward to right now for several reasons. For one thing, it’s about time that Flash got recognized as a hero in his own right rather than a side character in a few animated movies and shows. Secondly, The Flash will be brought to the screen courtesy of the same team who created the CW’s existing DC hit Arrow, which makes me very optimistic about its quality.
The question now is how will the series handle Flash’s heroic journey? Clearly the Reverse-Flash is involved in Barry Allen’s life and killed his mother for some reason, so there’s going to most likely be some kind of conspiracy-theory element to it judging from Barry’s obsession with tracking down meta-humans. Also, seeing Weather Wizard appear as the primary villain of the trailer hints at more possible future encounters with the other members of the Rogues, although apparently with real super-powers.
It appears that Oliver Queen will be heavily involved in the companion series and frequent crossovers will occur between The Flash and Arrow. This is part of the reason I’m so into the idea of a television DC universe; cool things like this can happen. Here’s to hoping that The Flash can deliver in practice what it puts forth on paper.
2. Constatine (NBC)
I personally don’t know that much about Constantine other than the terrible Keanu Reeves movie from several years ago, so the quirkiness of the trailer took me a bit off guard in that sense. The idea of a human man who fights supernatural creatures like angels and demons is obviously old hat at this point, as Supernatural has been doing it for almost ten years now pretty much as well as it can be done.
That being said, the unique and offbeat angle Constantine seems to be taking could be what sets it apart from similar shows. Beginning the story more or less in the middle of things with Constantine rejecting his responsibilities and attempting to hide his gifts from the world is certainly not what I expected, but it could make the character much more compelling in that the viewers will be very interested in knowing what has made him this way. That and the fact that the actor who plays the titular Constantine seems to be using all the snark and sass that make Sam and Dean of Supernatural so fun to watch makes me a bit more optimistic about this show.
Given the comic book’s history, there is also plenty of possibility for an appearance from one of DC’s other favorites, Swamp Thing. We’ll have to wait and see on that one. My only concern is that there may not be enough supporting roles and Constantine may have to carry the show on his own. It’s possible, but it certainly would make finding a successful formula a lot harder.
3. Gotham (FOX)
Okay, now this is the one that makes me a little nervous. While the premise of following the everyday side characters of Batman, especially James Gordon, and showing the life of young Bruce Wayne after the death of his parents seems like a classic formula for success, it’s the timing and circumstances that worry me.
Part of the appeal of The Flash and Constantine as TV shows is that the characters will be introduced in such a way that you don’t have to know anything about them beforehand to get into the action. Gotham is an entirely different story; if you don’t know anything about Batman, it just seems like another police procedural that just happens to feature some random Batman villains. Also, we as a comic-reading audience know that the end of the show is a foregone conclusion because the Gotham City police fail to stop crime before Batman appears.
If Gotham doesn’t do something to distinguish itself from the ranks of other cop and crime shows and insists on forcibly injecting Batman’s rogue gallery into a place where they don’t quite fit, I’m not sure how long the show will hold onto viewers. Then again, people seem to like cop shows in general, so I guess stranger things have happened.
I hope this brief glimpse into the possible future of the DC universe makes the case for why the comic book giant should trying going all-in on the TV medium. Stay tuned for part two in this series where I discuss a few more heroes who I think could make good additions to the world of television!
Update: Part two of this article series is up! You can read it here.
Channel Chaser is written by Kyle Robertson. You can check out more of his work on his website. Check back every Friday for new articles.