MTV Geek's Steven Smith On Superhero TV Shows: 'Mining The Shale'

By Steven Smith

I haven’t watched "Arrow" yet. I know! And I only saw a handful of episodes of "Smallville". I KNOW! But I will give "Arrow" a view though I’m still irked no one can give me a good reason why they took "green" out of the title Not even Geoff Johns and we asked him! But I do back how Mike Grell is illustrating the comic version of the series. Well done. Someone was thinking. I wonder what Mike Grell thinks – he’s probably into it. He would be.

"Arrow" is a prime example of how I would work if I was a TV exec. 'Course if I was an actual exec, "Firefly" would still be on the air and Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse would have some serious explaining to do about that finale. SO disappointed. “No man, it is purgatory – kinda.” LAME. But I rightfully digress.

Oliver Queen aka "Arrow" is a commodity the general populace doesn’t know is based on a comic book. There are many amazing films based on comic books most of the world has no idea, from "A History of Violence" to "Scott Pilgrim" to "Mystery Men" to name a couple. Though "Mystery Men" should have piqued your Spidey-Sense that it was comic based.

Television hasn’t fared as well unless you count that "Batman" and "Incredible Hulk" series. You know, those two. That was the 60’s and 70’s respectively. 80’s comic book shows were mostly animated as were the 90’s. It wasn’t until the early Oughts when the generation of nerds who grew up reading comics in the 70’s and 80’s became adults and went to film school; plus technology caught up, and Ba-Kow kick-ass films with few capes. So where are the television shows?

There have been attempts, "Birds of Prey" and "Generation X" among them but these paled in comparison to "Buffy" and "Angel" and whatever else Joss Whedon was dreaming up. Then "Alias" came along and we know where that dude ended up. "Smallville", to me, was an anomaly. It’s an easy pitch, what was Superman like growing up – boom, give it a budget and hire someone with blue eyes, oh and dress him in blue and red for no apparent reason.

The fun part about "Smallville" wasn’t when is Clark going to fly, but all the fun side characters they threw in such as Impulse or Cyborg or even Aquaman. Oh, and of course Green Arrow (see, it works!). The majority of folks most likely know Aquaman but grabbing characters from straight-up comics adds to the story line.

Sidebar: I know "The Walking Dead" is a comic. No, I don’t watch it. Zombies scare the crap out of me. No, you shut up.

So with "Arrow" doing super well for the CW I’d like to see more, even deeper character cuts. Why not mine the same fun comic depths Neil Gaiman did and go for Prez Rickard or Brother Power the Geek. "Prez" would be an incredible television series -- who in this day and age wouldn’t be fascinated by the first teen president! I’d like to see the DNAgents come to the small HD 16:9 screen. People love super teams (and cloning) so it would work or at least be a good sounding off point.

There have been attempts, I’m not saying there haven’t. "The Crow: Stairway to Heaven" (seriously), "Birds of Prey" (liked it), "Painkiller Jane" (almost), and "Sable" (hey it’s Mike Grell again!) lasted one season but so did "Firefly"! There are too many characters out there to not waste television budgets on. Where's the Sandman series? "Transmetropolitan" would translate perfectly but only with a bald Hugh Laurie as Spider Jerusalem. How about "The Invisibles", maybe a TV version would help me understand it.

So congratulations "Arrow", I sincerely hope you are the first in a long line of comic based television hits. Trust me, there will always be comics to get ideas from. Speaking of, did the "Amazing Screw On Head" get made? What is wrong with Hollywood?!! That’s a win win!

Steven Smith watches way too much television, his podcast Going Off Track will not rest until every member of Man of Action Studios is on it, and he so Night of the Living Dead too young and it scarred him so enough with the zombie noise okay.

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