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Comic Culture: Analyzing Comic TV Properties

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With all of the upcoming comic TV shows I thought it might be fun to investigate what the various networks have on their slate. Nothing too fancy, just some of my thoughts on these new shows. So, strap in and take a spin with me, if you so desire for this trip into the Comic Culture.

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CW – Arrow, Flash, iZombie – The CW network is slowly but surely becoming the go to place for comic book TV shows. Arrow was the test, and with a little bit of a rocky start it has quickly taken off. The number of viewers each week, as well as the fans on social media prove this point. Because the CW isn’t considered one of the main networks, I feel they have a little more flexibility with their programming slate as well as the ability to take more chances on things. Hence, why they greenlit the forthcoming Flash adaptation and iZombie show too. While Arrow is mostly grounded in reality, The Flash and iZombie clearly have some more fantastical elements at their core. This shouldn’t be seen as a far stretch from what the network is used to though, what with shows like Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries already network mainstays. iZombie also plays into the zombie craze that is currently in full swing with The Walking Dead breaking records day in and out. It’ll be interesting to see how well The Flash and iZombie fair, but if I were a betting man I would guess that The Flash is more of the sure thing, while iZombie is more of the wildcard. Introducing Barry Allen in Arrow and tying his superhero creation to an already successful superhero show was a brilliant move. Doing so should carry over some of the Arrow audience to The Flash.iZombie will need to market more to find it’s footing, but as long as the story and acting are spot on it should be able to carve out its own niche.

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NBC – Constantine – Aside from the movie adaptation with Keanu Reeves, which I am well aware was a far cry from the comic iteration of John Constantine, I don’t have too much personal experience with the character. Other than knowing the basics, I have never actually read a Hellblazer comic. I know they’re good, and I find the character to be very intriguing, but there is just SO much of it that I find it just too daunting. That withstanding, from what I am seeing from the promotional materials and the first trailer I am intrigued. The effects look great and I am a sucker for a good supernatural show. I may end up checking out the first few episodes to see how it is. One thing that has me nervous, though, is the fact that this is a new show and NBC has chosen to air it on Friday nights. NBC is known for axing shows without giving them the proper time to really grow and flourish and this move kind of makes me feel like they aren’t 100% confident about it. On the other hand, Hannibal is on Fridays and that show is liked by many and does very well in its spot. So, perhaps Constantine on Fridays isn’t that bad of a move at all given its subject matter and graphic nature. The one two punch of Constantine and Hannibal might just be the right formula for the network, and fans alike.

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ABC – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter – It’s no secret that Marvel knows how to handle their comic, movie, and now TV properties. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a slow start (as many new shows do until they find their footing), but now that they have tied into the fallout of Captain America: The Winter Soldier the show seems to be firing on all cylinders. They are beginning to really dig into their comic mythos and are also bringing in a few characters from the movies. Since this is a Marvel property, and Disney owns Marvel as well as ABC, the future of this show seems to be pretty stable. I checked out the first few episodes of the show, and while I am aware it’s gotten a lot better, it’s just not for me. My dislikes aside, the mass appeal of Marvel and its properties has multiplied into spawning an Agent Carter show (starring Hayley Atwell) once again as Peggy Carter in the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. This seems like a no brainer for the network because with the success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. they can now have a “current” S.H.I.E.L.D. show, as well as an “old” S.H.I.E.L.D. show of which they can tie together. The network is even so confident that they are moving ahead without a pilot.

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FOX – Gotham – This is probably the newest show that I am the most excited for. I am a HUGE Batman fan, and while this show doesn’t center around Batman it does feature many of the main players in his world. If we’re going to be real, this is basically a modified version of Gotham Central, which is a fantastic series and you should all read it. Focusing on Jim Gordon in his early years in Gotham is a great idea (imo). They have casted two great actors in Ben McKenzie as Gordon, and Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock. I have faith that both of these guys will bring something interesting and unique to these great characters. I am a little on the fence about bringing in the rogues (Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman) to the show, but the fact that they are mostly “pre-rogue,” aka showing how they become villains and their subsequent rise to power, is an interesting spin. Also when you think about it, having Gordon and Bullock take out just mobsters and crime bosses week in and out would definitely get boring, and lose viewers fast. So, perhaps this is a smart move. Lastly, there is a young Bruce Wayne in the show. It was inevitably bound to happen, and it doesn’t really surprise me either. If we’re not going to get Batman, then we have to at least have Bruce Wayne. Showing the dynamic between a young Bruce and Gordon could be interesting considering their long history in the comics. We’ll just have to see how it plays out. But, this is probably the aspect of the show I am least excited for. I want Gordon to be the focal point as much as possible because the character deserves it. Let’s all hope that happens. Either way I am going to give this show a long leash and see what the showrunners have to offer.

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CBS – The Big Bang Theory – Currently CBS has the most watched comic show on television, and the funny thing is that it’s not really a “comic” show. It’s more of a show about nerds who are into geeky things, which happens to include comics. So, if we are being truly nitpicky, this show counts by default. I was anti Big Bang Theory for quite some time because I found it to be too cliched, but once I gave it a chance it warmed up to me. I just think it’s cool that so many people dig a show that will frequently take place in a comic book store, or show the characters dressed in a Flash or Green Lantern t-shirts. I don’t know the actual viewership numbers, but I do believe it is one of the most watched shows on network television. The fact that they were picked up for another 3 seasons is a testament to its popularity. Hey, I’m all for anything that gets more people interested in comics and the genre as a whole. Bazinga!

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Streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Playstation, XBox Live etc.) – The comic TV landscape is probably the newest in this avenue, but with the upcoming Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and The Defenders shows on Netflix as well as Powers for Playstation it is becoming clear that is a definite option. Out of all of these, I am easily the most excited for the Daredevil show. We don’t know too much about any of these properties yet, let alone a few casting choices for Daredevil specifically, but given Marvel’s track record and the ability to control their properties more going this route, I expect these series to be nothing more than stellar.

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Cable – Anyone ever heard of a little show called The Walking Dead? This show is a cable juggernaut, that I can’t even imagine Robert Kirkman thought would be this successful. The fact that viewers, who pay good money, to watch cable seek out this show says a lot about the quality of the show as well as overall comic book appeal right now. I don’t personally have cable, but did check out season 1 of the show on DVD and it just wasn’t for me. I’ve heard (and read) that the show has strayed quite far from the comic, and I think that’s fine because it keeps people interested. It’s hard to say how long the show will last, but if the numbers keep up I see it going on for awhile. Also, Kirkman has another TV adaptation in the works at AMC (where the Walking Dead airs) based on his series Thief of Thieves as well as deal with Showtime for his forthcoming series Outcast. Needless to say Mr. Kirkman is doing alright for himself. A few other shows are currently in development at other cable networks that I just want to mention quickly. They include DMZ, Letter 44, Pax Romana, Ronin and Clone at SyFy as well as Scalped at WGN America. I expect more to surface as these shows move along.

So, what are you planning on watching in this list? Anything? Everything? If you’re like me it’s going to be hard to keep on top of all these shows and some of them will have to be weeded out. All I know is that it’s a damn good time to be a comic and TV fan. Hmmmm….maybe it’s time to investigate one of those DVR things.

Happy reading.

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