JOHN OSTRANDER: TV WEEK GEEK

Constantine-TV-showby John Ostrander

Once upon a time, when I was a boy, TV consisted of the three networks, one independent channel, and before long, one “education” channel. (“They actually had TV when you were a boy, Uncle John?” Yes. Quiet, you.) Every fall, each of the networks took a week to trot out their new and returning shows and they each took turns. And, if memory serves, that pretty much was it for the season.

If you were into superhero comics (and I was despite my mother), there were damn slim pickings. There was The Adventures of Superman, of course, and that was played pretty straight albeit it was considered a children’s show. Later on, there was the Batman series that was fun and interesting to me at start but got old real fast. Something along the superhero lines was Zorro. I loved that show. Guy Williams was my Zorro. Dressed all in black, masked, fighting injustice – yeah, I’d group him in with the superheroes.

But that was essentially it.

Not so today. Comics rule the cinema and they are taking over the small screen. Never so much as in the coming year and I thought I’d survey the new and returning shows and see what attracts my eye.

First up is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I started off last year with a lot of anticipation for Phil Coulson and his section of the Mighty Marvel Marching Society. That was quickly dissipated. Halfway through the season, I would not have bet you real money that the show would get a second season but it really picked up in the last third once they were able to tie in and elaborate on elements from the second Captain America movie. The people they’re adding to the cast and what I’ve heard of the projected storylines has me eagerly anticipating the series’ return. Please, don’t let it dissipate.

The other returning show is Arrow. To be honest, I like the show without loving it. It gets a little too sudsy for me at times and it can stretch my suspension of disbelief to the breaking point – but they also have a version of Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad in it. I loves me some Amanda Waller showing up, whatever her size, because she generates money for me every time she does.

Arrow is also generating a spin off with The Flash and I think I’m looking forward to it more than its parent. It seems lighter and brighter and that’s appropriate given the subject matter. I like the look of the costume although it seems a little dark; he’s more the Maroon Speeder than the Scarlet Speeder. One small touch, however, really appeals to me; they cast John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allan’s father. For those who don’t know, Shipp played the Flash the last time they tried to make a TV series out of the comic. It was a good show but ahead of its time and so lasted only a season. Bringing back Shipp is, IMO, a class act. That speaks well of the producers and makes me hopeful for the series.

The show with a lot of expectations on it is Gotham, the long prequel to Batman. Like Smallville, the series that told Clark Kent’s story before he became Superman, Gotham will presumably end when Batman actually shows up. However, at the start, Bruce is ten years old and his parents have just been murdered. The producers have a lot of hope for the show’s longevity.

I’m not so sure. Smallville at least had Clark Kent as its center. The city itself appears to be the center. Gotham has always been a major character in the Batman mythos, but the central character? We’ll see; I intend to tune in. I hope its great.

The show I’m most interested in, however, is Constantine. John Constantine is a great character, a charismatic anti-hero, a magician in a trench coat who drinks too much, smokes too much, a conman who is going to hell unless he can figure how to trick his way out. Yeah, that sounds like a show right up my alley. I think it’s also a good premise for an ongoing TV show. If it does nothing else but eradicate the stink Keanu Reeves made of the character, it will be a great thing.

That’s my list; tune in next summer and we’ll see which shows made it and which did not. I’m betting on Constantine.