What is wrong with you people? Yesterday, I heard that CBS might not renew Supergirl for a second year, which generally happens to a television show because not many people are watching it and so I ask again, what is wrong with you? It’s not like you’ve got anything better to do with your Monday evenings! I could tell you that as this is being typed, in a few hours, Supergirl will deliver to your screens a first. (Well, actually a second, but we’ll get to that.) But you won’t read this until four days from now – unless you’re too busy to read it! – and by then what I’m about to reveal will be history. The way you young people reckon time, ancient history.
Well, fudge. I’ll reveal it anyway. The current episode of CBS’s Maid of Might entertainment will feature a crossover! The Flash, hero of another show, will visit Supergirl and… they’ll do some pretty darn interesting stuff, I bet. Probably catch a villain or two, maybe more. Now, of course, such events aren’t exactly boggling in tv these days. Just recently, the cops of Law and Order SVU, set in Manhattan, visited the
Chicago cops and… caught a bad guy. Both SVU and Chicago PD have the same producer, Dick Wolf, and appear on the same network, NBC, so although the crossover was a big deal it wasn’t that big a deal. And it had happened before and may happen again.
But The Flash and Supergirl? Here’s what makes this a socks-knocker: the shows appear on different networks! Those of you who read comics – there are still some people who read, aren’t there? – may be aware that comics publishing’s two Giant Gorillas, Marvel and DC, have been staging print intercompany crossovers beginning, I think, with Superman vs Spider-Man in 1976. There have been others since – I’m not sure how many, but some. That’s print, an ancient technology of which you may have heard. But television? Count the palling up of Supergirl and the Flash as revolutionary.
Or maybe not. Way back, characters from two lawyer shows, The Practice, broadcast on ABC, and Fox’s Ally McBeal, met on each other’s turf. Both programs were created by David E. Kelley, so maybe the stunt wasn’t earth-shaking, but it was unprecedented. And it set a precedent which I, at least, will witness at eight tonight. You? Well, you don’t seem much interested in watching Supergirl. You certainly don’t watch it enough to keep it on the air. Is what’s on C-SPAN really all that enthralling?
One great thing about Dragon*Con is that sometimes it inspires me to check out new shows or genre fiction, and sometimes it inspires me to re-visit a past favorite. After this year’s Battlestar Galactica panel I had a super-cravi ng to go back and watch the show again; thanks to Netflix I’ve been re-living the intensity that is BSG.
What I love about the show, as someone pointed out in the panel (BSG – Bright Shiny Futures Are Overrated) is that it uses the harsh situation that the few remaining members of the human race find themselves in to explore numerous complex themes that resonate with real world conflicts and historical events. Along with plenty of action and drama, it’s an intellectual show that challenges viewers to think about the choices being made, and highlights the complexity and imperfections of the main characters as they constantly make difficult decisions that will affect the whole of humanity. It’s also sometimes exceedingly grim – so much so that the first time I was watching it, I found that I had to take a break for awhile about half-way through the series and go watch something a little less bleak. But that is a testament to the way the show tries to confront the cruel realities that must be faced in times of war; and is balanced by the way it also celebrates the kindness and heroism that can be drawn out by the same intense situations.
Another thing that’s great about the series is that since it appears at first to be set in a far, far distant (though not technologically unrecognizable) future, it’s aged well. Also, in tune with the recurring theme that “all of this has happened before; and all of this will happen again,” the stories and interactions follow cycles of our own human interactions that we can identify with, so they do not seem not dated, and the themes are still relevant. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend giving it a try. Even if you have, you may not have known (as I didn’t, the first time I watched) about the tie-in material like Razor and the webseries, so you could always check those out as well. In the meantime, here are a few words from some of the stars of the show, who I got to talk to while at Dragon*Con (although I sadly missed getting to chat with Katee Sackhoff).
While discussing film projects, James Callis (a.k.a. Dr. Gaius Baltar, who looks and sounds uncannily similar to his character in person, but is thankfully much nicer) shared with me the interesting tidbit that his favorite TV or film character – not one he wants to play, per se, but one he loves – is Frank-n-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (as played by Tim Curry). I can’t deny that he’s a fascinating character! And Callis’ favorite part of the con? “Meeting all of you guys.”
Jamie Bamber (a.k.a. Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama), who was wearing a fantastic “My Other Ride is a Viper” shirt, told me he’s currently involved in a new series based on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s novel Monday Mornings(also starring Ving Rhames and Alfred Molina). The show will be produced by Gupta and David E. Kelley and is centered around the Monday morning morbidity meetings at a Portland hospital, where the doctors reflect on what went wrong the previous week. Bamber says, “I’ve seen the pilot, and it’s really the best start to something that I’ve ever done.” High praise, considering how awesome Battlestar Galactica was! And Bamber’s favorite part of the con is “catching up with old friends, like the Battlestar Galactica group and everyone.”
Michael Trucco (a.k.a. Sam Anders), who is super tall in person, let me know that next on his agenda is at least six episodes of season eight of How I Met Your Mother… “and I can say that my character takes a turn that’s… ‘ironically comical.’“ As for what he loves about Dragon*Con, that’s pretty much everything, i.e. “the panels and the Walk of Fame, as well as the interactions with the fans.”
Richard Hatch, (a.k.a. Tom Zarek, and also Captain Apollo on the original 1978/80 series) and I chatted about a number of upcoming events in his life, including (alert, alert!) a Battlestar Galactica con from May 23-26, 2013 in Houston, Texas, with actors from both the original series and the new series. And we just re-launched battlestargalactica.com, which is sort of like a Facebook for fans.” Also he recommends fans check out whothefrak.com. “We’re developing it into a reality show with me and some industry friends. I’m also hosting a cruise to the Mediterranean next year, and will be teaching my seminars and everything during the cruise.”
There’s also an album out called “From Apollo to Tom Zarek: The Battlestar Galactica Memoirs,” regarding his career in both of the series’.”And I’m also working on a big epic sci-fi series that’s in development called TheGreat War of Magellan, for which we are developing a game and a novel.” Whew! Busy times in the life of Richard Hatch! But he still has time for the fans, and at Dragon*Con, says “I love the Battlestar party and the steampunk ball and the panels.”
Thanks to the stars of BSG for their time and awesomeness! And that’s it it for this year’s Dragon*Con experience, but stay tuned, because Baltimore Comic Con, which is next up, was just as fun!
Until next week, Servo Lectio!
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis Goes Back To High School
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and Archie’s Sex Change
As is well-known, the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Comics a little over two years ago. Marvel joined the Muppets, Pixar, ABC and ESPN as tentacles of that great evil media empire that has done so much to homogenize the American culture. After all the jokes died down, some people wondered why the Mouse wanted the House that Jack Built in the first place.
Disney is a movie company, and Marvel’s shiniest family jewels – Spider-Man and The X-Men – were in the hands of competing studios (Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox, respectively) and aren’t likely to revert any time soon. The sundry Avengers characters were in the hands of Paramount Pictures, although Disney was able to purchase a nice reversion deal here. But, still, the motion picture revenue picture was severely compromised by the Spidey and X deals, and made all the more expensive by the Paramount buy-back. So, the question “why” certainly is valid.
Nobody that big buys a publishing venture – certainly not a comic book publishing venture – for the profits it will generate on its own. The phrase “fart in a blizzard” comes to mind. Merchandising and licensing revenues can be fairly attractive and Disney/Marvel/Muppets are a good fit. But… still… why?
I think we’re beginning to see the real reason. Disney owns ABC, which includes ABC Family, the Disney Channel, Disney XD (which already carries many of the Marvel animated shows), Playhouse Disney, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama, Jetix, Radio Disney, SoapNet, WABC-TV New York, KABC-TV Los Angeles, WLS-TV Chicago, WPVI-TV Philadelphia, KGO-TV San Francisco, KTRK-TV Houston, WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham, and KFSN-TV Fresno, and as the various ESPN channels – possibly excluding “El Ocho.” Plus all kinda stuff overseas.
One can argue that teevee in general doesn’t have much of a future, and I might agree. But teevee programming has one hell of a great future no matter what platform we’ll be enjoying in the future: cable, satellite, computers, tablets, integrated teevee/computer systems, visors, brain implants, whatever. And that’s where the Mighty Marvel Money Machine will become the Mouse’s cash cow, true believer.
Disney already has The Hulk, Cloak and Dagger and Alias in development. Of course “Alias” has to be renamed – it’s working under the title “a.k.a. Jessica Jones” right now, and the show includes both Luke Cage and Carol Danvers. Mockingbird is also in development as a Miley Cyrus style kids show, possibly as fodder for the ABC Family network.
Step back a pace and take a look at what’s going on here.
Most of these shows are built around female superheroes. As headliners, such characters are anathema to motion picture studios. But Disney is betting heavy, heavy bucks that the distaff side will draw a sufficient audience to warrant the investment.
That’s pretty cool – and very risky. Women heroes haven’t fared much better on the small screen: Nikita was renewed by the skin of her teeth, The Bionic Woman revival flamed out, as did Charlie’s Angels redux. David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman didn’t make it past the pilot stage. Yet Disney is developing no less than three Marvel shows built around women.
So no matter what I might feel about Disney’s predatory influence on our culture, they are showing a great deal of courage here – courage they developed by purchasing Marvel.
We’ve got more secrets to share from SyFy‘s SANCTUARY, as Amanda Tapping gives us hints on this season’s shocking finale (still a few weeks away). Plus DC sells five million comics in just a few weeks, and NY Comic Con is ON and we are on the floor.
Oh, alas. Rest your sorrowing gaze on the gap, the fracture, the breach, the crack, the cavity, hole, crevice – might it even be a lacuna? – and join my lament.
And what, exactly, is that lament? And the gap/fracture/breach and the rest…what are we referring to here?
Well, in case it’s not obvious by now…we’re complaining about the absence of superheroes in the television season that’s a’borning. Not that such an absence is exactly novel. Since Superman made his video debut in 1952 – the Man of Steel was TV’s first costumed superguy – there have been more years without broadcast superheroes than years with them. But they have been sprinkled throughout the schedules in an odd, here-and-there fashion.
Some of them may have been among your favorites. Remember Captain Nice and Mr. Terrific? The Hulk? Electra Woman and Dyna Girl? Shazam? Isis? The Flash? The Greatest American Hero? How about Sesame Street’s Super Grover? If you can tolerate your superheroes minus costumes, the list can be expanded: The Six Million Dollar Man and his female counterpart, The Bionic Woman; The Dark Angel, which introduced many of us dirty old men to Jessica Alba – and yes, we are grateful; Buffy the Vampire Slayer (more gratitude from the DOM squad); the SyFy channel’s Alphas…
I’m not going to insult you by mentioning Batman, but do you recall the show that was apparently meant to capitalize on Batman’s popularity, The Green Hornet?
This list is, I’m sure, incomplete, but you get the idea. Superheroics have been almost television staples for a long time – not as constant as cop action or goofy folks doing goofy things in the sitcom universe, but pretty familiar.
Not currently, though. We thought we’d have an adaptation of one of the classic comics characters to amuse us in prime time and I, for one, eagerly anticipated the new Wonder Woman, as presented by David E. Kelley. Mr. Kelley – he deserves the honorific – is, arguably television’s best scripter, especially now that Aaron Sorkin’s gone elsewhere. I’ve been aware of him ever since Picket Fences in the 90’s and I think Boston Legal was a small weekly miracle. (His current show, Harry’s Law, is pretty damn good, too.) One can’t help wondering: what would Kelley, whose previous work never got near fantasy-melodrama in any form, have done in such unfamiliar territory? I can’t say that we’ll never know because, these days…DVD? Limited cable exposure? YouTube? But we don’t know now. (Or do we? Do you have information that I lack?)
Life is tough.
Know what would be swell? To see Wonder Woman as I first saw Superman 1952. Not knowing that some of the scenes depicting the destruction of Krypton were borrowed from theatrical movies, or noticing that the special effects were less than awe-inspiring – did they even qualify as special effects? No, just looking and accepting whatever was there, without judgment, being amused or bored as the occasion demanded.
But I’ve seen and read and written so much much much…and hell. I’ve even been an editor. I don’t have the capacity to look with an innocent mind at superheroes, or anything else, and that’s the real fracture in my life.
Evangeline Lily has found her way to the big screen again, starring this weekend with Hugh Jackman in this weekend’s REAL STEEL. We talk about the film, her passion for writing and life after LOST plus Horror Genius Wes Craven reports on how SCREAM 4 begins that francise all over again – plus NBC drops the axe on two shows.
On Tuesday, Fox announced that it was canceling [[[Human Target]]] (starring Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earl Haley and based on the DC Comics character created by Len Wein, Carmine Infantino, and Dick Giordano) after two seasons, and also declined to pick up Locke & Key, the pilot from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (the minds behind Fringe and the Star Trek reboot) based on the IDW comic from Joe Hill.
Now word has come from Deadline Hollywood that NBC will not be picking up [[[Wonder Woman]]], the series that would have been produced by David E. Kelley and starred Adrianne Palacki as the amazing Amazon.
Between these developments, and Smallville ending its decade long run tonight, we are suddenly going from a lot of comics adaptations in broadcast prime time to none at all for the first time since 1996– and that was when Sabrina the Teenage Witch first aired.
Right now, all eyes are on whether Disney’s fabled corporate synergy will mean sister companies Marvel and ABC will go ahead with a new version of Hulk with Guillermo del Toro and David Eick, and/or AKA Jessica Jones with Melissa Rosenberg– or whether they’ll be shunted to ABC Family or some such solution.
In case you’ve been at a con, under a rock, or recently kicking your 5-a-day Fabergé Egg habit… the brothers Warner and Mr. David E. Kelley have released a photo (err.. now 2 and then some, thanks to our pals at io9) of the forthcoming Wonder Woman television series costume. Part classic Wonder Woman, part updated comic book costume, part stripper costume? Well, I’m no Alan Kistler (of Newsarama’s Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., and ComicMix fame) … but let’s break it down:
• Starting at the top, we get new Diana-Prince-In-Waiting Adrianne Palicki’s ebony locks pushed behind a fairly classic headband. While less of a tiara than the Lynda Carter era costume, we still have a nice throwback here. I’d like to note though, the Wonder Woman I think of is a natural beauty, and when I see the bright red lipstick and pink cheeks here, all I can think of is “Homer! You had it set to whore!”. If we look at the studio shot, it seems they toned it down. Thank Ares.
• Moving down, yes past the ample bosoms, we get to the top part of the costume. The shiny red bustier is topped by the always-classic eagle motif that Wonder Woman has sported for as long as she’s thrown a golden lasso of truth. Just as the Wonder Woman of the first series had, we have a glorified tube top. Is it the most appropriate thing to wear when fighting crime? No. Does it make dudes excited in their what-nots? you betcha. And look above? Proof that it holds up under … hrm…. stress.
• A little bit further down the line, we really start to separate us from the vintage look. The yellow lasso aforementioned above connects to a rather interesting looking belt. Almost a tiara-of-the-hips, if you will. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be metal, or leather… but if it’s metal, well, Diana ain’t gonna bend down too often. And while we’re about waist high, lets mention the classic bullet-deflecting bracelets. While longer than the Carter administration models, they do reinforce the attempt here to stay true to the character. Even if they look like a quite-plastic version of metal bracelets, perhaps purchased with a WW Halloween costume.
Deadline Hollywood reports that Friday Night Lights alumna Adrianne Palicki has been tapped for the title role in NBC’s Wonder Woman pilot, executive produced by David E. Kelley for Warner Bros. TV.
Palicki won the role of Wonder Woman, closely associated with Lynda Carter, who played Diana Prince in the 1970s series, in a decisive manner – she was the only actress invited to test for it.
The Daily Beast got a look at the current draft of the script for the pilot, wherein Wonder Woman/Diana Prince is a vigilante crime fighter and a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to have it all. It’s a bit… oh, lordie:
Diana’s first appearance, here in her guise as Wonder Woman, is a Hollywood Boulevard-based action sequence set, cringingly, to the outdated tune of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” the first of many musical cues—including tracks by Lady Gaga and Kanye West—in the script, all of which seem to prove that a) Kelley is a few years behind the times, and b) he watches a lot of Glee, since nearly all of these songs have been covered by the show choir.