This year’s Fall TV slate seems tailor fit for the Comic-Con set. More series based on comic book properties are taking up valuable prime time real estate than ever before, with the weekly schedule dominated by no less than three new series from DC Entertainment — and that’s before you look at the mid-season “iZombie” launch!
Barry Allen is getting his second shot at helming a TV show with the CW’s “The Flash,” while John Constantine gets his first television series over on NBC. And don’t forget the much-anticipated debut of FOX’s “Gotham,” chronicling the pre-“Dark Knight” days of a young Detective Jim Gordon.
As the Fall TV season gets underway, here’s our handy guide to three different DC Universe-based series you need to make room on your DVR for, and be sure to check out CBR’s guide to your returning favorites like “Arrow” and “The Walking Dead.”
When: Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 8 PM on The CW
What’s It About? “Arrow” writers/producers Greg Bertlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns are giving Barry Allen another chance at TV stardom, featuring relative newcomer Grant Gustin reprising his role from “Arrow” in this spinoff. The new series centers on Allen’s struggles juggling his career as Central City CSI with becoming the Scarlet Speedster.
The pilot goes the “Batman Begins” route, providing a very (pun intended) fast-paced retelling of Barry’s origin story, but with a few updates to make it friendlier toward the storytelling demands of weekly television.
Helping Barry battle B and C-list supervillains — baddies created by the same accident that had a hand in making Barry one with the speed force — is Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), the wheelchair-bound head of STAR Labs. Wells may have a secret or three regarding his true agenda for helping Barry out — an agenda poised to change Barry’s life forever.
Co-stars Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes are on hand as Barry’s in-lab Tech Support, as his alter ego takes to the streets to face weekly threats (think “Smallville’s” “Freak of the Week” approach). There is also a heavily-serialized component running throughout the series, as Barry struggles to uncover the identity of the mysterious, super-fast figure that seemingly killed his mother one fateful night.
In short: Fans can expect lots of running, lots of punching, from “The Flash” 2.0.
Why You Should Watch: We’ve seen the pilot, and in addition to being one of the most fun hours of television the CW has ever produced, it also holds a lot of potential for becoming another must-watch hit in DC’s TV crown.
With Johns’ 2009 “The Flash: Rebirth” miniseries serving as a loose inspiration for the series’ overall narrative, fans can expect this series to fully embrace its comic book origins. In fact, the show is already proving that before its even aired.
The General (“Sleepy Hollow’s” Clancy Brown), Plastique (Kelly Frye), Firestorm, Heatwave (Dominic Purcell) and Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) are just a few of the DC characters visiting Central City in the first season. And one of the pilot’s last scenes hints to even more comic book-y goodness in the series’ future. (Think “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”)
While it’s too early to call how all this will shake out, it’s safe to assume that “The Flash” is off to a promising start. Make sure you watch this show, live if possible.
When: Friday, Oct. 24 at 10 PM on NBC
What’s It About? NBC is trading in the Keanu-ized version of DC/Vertigo’s popular anti-hero for something much closer to the source material.
This time, Welshman Matt Ryan tousles the signature blond hair and wrinkled trenchcoat to play the cynical John Constantine, a demon hunter battling supernatural forces pushing into our world — all while struggling to redeem what’s left of his soul.
Week to week, Constantine will be joined by Manny (“Lost’s” Harold Perrineau), an angel charged with keeping an eye on John and — occasionally — pulling a Castiel from “Supernatural” by lending a helping hand. Also on hand is the comics’ Zed Martin, played by newcomer Angelica Celaya. Martin serves as the audience’s entry point into a world infected by the dark arts Constantine trades in. Celaya replaces Lucy Griffiths following the pilot, which promises lots of atmosphere and scares.
Why You Should Watch: Early previews seem to indicate that the series is embracing its comic book roots, which is a big draw for fans.
Having “Game of Thrones” director Neil Marshall on hand to direct the pilot also shows that NBC wants to get the character right, and give audiences a unique genre show that’s more than just a snark-ier version of the CW’s “Supernatural.”
While this iteration of the character will not be smoking on screen, he will represent the most faithful adaptation audiences have seen yet. NBC has given the series a 13-episode commitment; let’s hope it does well enough in its problematic Friday time slot to warrant even more weekly adventures for our favorite chain-smoking exorcist.
When: Monday, Sept. 22 at 8 PM on FOX
What’s It About? Ever since they won a competitive bidding war for the hotly-anticipated series, FOX has been banging the drums on their Gotham-set show about a young Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his struggles to clean up the city’s pre-Dark Knight streets.
Loosely inspired by DC Comics’ popular “Gotham Central,” the TV series pairs Gordon with fan-favorite Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) as the unlikely duo bicker and spar their way through a gauntlet of Batman’s future Rogues Gallery. The origins of the Penguin (Robin Taylor), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy (Clare Foley) and the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) are all introduced in the pilot, as “Gotham” aims to go the “Batman Begins” route for both its heroes and villains.
Though his presence is felt, young Bruce Wayne takes a backseat to the show’s boots-on-the-ground detective work, as Gordon works the streets to find those responsible for murdering the young boy’s parents. (This narrative choice is no doubt a result of the limitations that come with having an 8-year-old future Batman, but fans shouldn’t worry; the series promises an interesting dynamic between Bruce and his two surrogate fathers — Gordon and Alfred [Sean Pertwee].)
And yes, fans, the Joker has a presence on the series early on — albeit in an Easter Egg capacity. Producers have gone on record to say that several episodes will drop hints regarding the Clown Prince of Crime, along with appearances by peripheral characters who may or may not turn out to become Batman’s arch nemesis.
All of this adds up to a very expensive, very ambitious live-action depiction of the events that lead to the birth of the popular vigilante.
Why You Should Watch:
While the pilot left us less than confident that this series is a slam dunk, “Gotham” does stand out from the crowded slate of comic book-based shows hitting the airwaves this year. As uneven as the show’s introductory hour is, there’s great potential to be found in taking the conventional idea of a procedural and setting it in the unconventional world of Batman and Gotham.
We’re hopeful that the series will find a more engaging balance between its Christopher Nolan-inspired roots and the unique voice that a live-action series about Gotham’s underworld needs and deserves.
For more info on the 2014 fall season, check out CBR’s guide to returning comic book-based shows including “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Walking Dead” and “Arrow!”
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