DC superheroes on TV this fall

28-May-14 2:41 PM by
Filed under Television; 3 comments.

Superheroes are cashing in big at the box office — but on television, they're a gamble. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., despite being renewed, has received mixed reviews, while other shows such as The Cape haven't survived a single season. This fall, several shows are taking the bet that they can buck the trend and be a success on the small screen.

Capitalizing on the recent trilogy of Batman movies (and the successful line of Arkham video games), the Dark Knight comes to Fox this fall — though he's a minor character in his own show. Set in Bruce Wayne's youth, shortly after his parents are murdered, Gotham focuses on Detective James Gordon, the officer who would one day be police commissioner, as he investigates crimes and encounters characters such as Harvey Dent, Edward Nygma, and Selina Kyle, years before they become the villains that would haunt the city's night. It's a combination of superhero and police procedural that hopes to last longer than the other show to be set in Gotham and not feature Batman, that being 2002's Birds of Prey, cancelled after just 13 episodes. Check out the trailer for Gotham:

Why is comic book publisher DC capitalizing so heavily on the iconic character of Batman? Lest you think they've forgotten their rich cast of other superheroes, joining Arrow on The CW this fall will be the Scarlet Speedster himself, The Flash:

The FlashLook familiar? This character already had a television run with a 1990 live-action series starring John Wesley Shipp. That incarnation of the Flash lasted only one season and 22 episodes, with the high cost of production cited as a reason for its cancellation. But with special effects now more affordable and accessible than ever, it's not just the Flash that's getting a second chance: Shipp has been cast in a recurring role as the hero's father, Henry Allen. Lightning does strike twice!

I'm more excited about that casting decision than I am about 24-year-old Thomas Gustin as Henry's speedy son, Barry. He seems too young and similar in build to Andrew Garfield, whose second Spider-Man movie debuted earlier this month. I don't know how old Barry was in the comic books when he received his powers, and I'm not opposed to rewriting and adapting the source material — but Tobey Maguire did such a great job of showcasing powers thrust upon the young that I'd like to see a more mature hero in this role.

With Arrow and The Flash on the same network — and set in the same universe, as seen in the above trailer's crossover — is DC positioning itself to create a television pantheon to rival Marvel's silver-screen Avengers? If so, what role will Smallville play in this lineup? Superhero cameos were the norm in that decade-long incarnation of Superman, though the Green Arrow that appeared there is seemingly not the same character who now has his own show. Where will they go from here?

Of course, Marvel isn't going to let DC have all the fun. Complementing the second season of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be a precursor to the agency in Agent Carter, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role from the Captain America films. Based on the Agent Carter one-shot that was released with the Iron Man 3 DVD, the series will be set in 1946, during the post-WWII founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whether this show will be like Gotham in the unlikelihood of featuring superheroes, or will be closer to S.H.I.E.L.D. in its encounters with the unknown, remains to be seen.

Movies take only two hours to judge, but as fans of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Joss Whedon know, television shows can take years to mature and for characters to develop Let's hope these superhero spinoffs get that chance.

(Hat tip to Charlie Jane Anders via Gene Demaitre)

Ice Age 4 begins breaking ground

14-Jan-11 11:21 AM by
Filed under Trailers; 1 comment.

Fox's Ice Age trilogy of films will become a quadrilogy on July 13, 2012, with the release of Ice Age: Continental Drift. The films thus far have successfully used CGI animation to present a family-friendly series of tales of slick action, witty dialogue, and heartwarming themes, courtesy the voice acting of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, and Denis Leary. But Rotten Tomatoes shows a trend of declining ratings with each release, which isn't surprising when a series reaches so many installments. It seems inevitable that gimmicks that were once original will eventually be worn and tired.

Will the fourth film continue the slide into mediocrity? It's too soon to say, but I found its trailer — in essence, a stand-alone animated short — as cute and quick as ever. Well in advance of the film's release next year, it is now available for free online:

What are your hopes for this series? Did you already stop counting after the first or second film?

Family Guy: Something Something Something Darkside

22-Dec-09 9:18 AM by
Filed under Star Wars, Television; Comments Off on Family Guy: Something Something Something Darkside

Here's yet another TV preview, this time for Family Guy, which two years ago performed its own rendition of Star Wars: A New Hope with its animated spoof episode, "Blue Harvest". Faster than LucasArts can pump out sequels, you can already catch the Family Guy's Empire Strikes Back, "Something Something Something Darkside", released today on DVD. Here's the trailer:

The timing of this DVD release means it's already available as a stocking stuffer (and in Blu-Ray, too!).

A sequel parodying Return of the Jedi titled "We Have A Bad Feeling About This" is planned.

The Star Trek Family Guy

28-Mar-09 9:09 AM by
Filed under Star Trek, Television; 1 comment.

With the new Star Trek movie due in just six weeks, there is hope that JJ Abrams' take on Gene Roddenberry's vision for the future will revitalize the entire franchise. The last time Star Trek needed a rebirth, it received it courtesy The Next Generation — and that show's cast is eager for a swan song and the chance to reprise their roles in another TNG film.

That day may never come, as that show's actors have mostly aged and moved on, the set dismantled, the public ready for something new. But diehard fans can be very un-Vulcan-like in their passion for these memorable characters. For them, the animated series Family Guy offers a special reunion in this Sunday's episode that reunites the bridge crew of the Enterprise-D:

Trek lore is rife with tales of on-screen characters played by actors who loathed each other, and it's refreshing to know the cast of TNG is not immunue to such petty rivalries, even twenty years after the show's debut. Their seven-year mission must've been laced with false politeness that just barely masked their contempt for each other:

(Hat tip to Levar Burton)

Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting

23-May-07 11:12 AM by
Filed under Television; 1 comment.

I've never seen either Family Guy or American Dad! (or most any other show in the eight years since I cancelled my television service), but even I marvel at the sheer genius and execution of this crossover promotion:

American Dad! vs. Family Guy Kung Fu II Turbo! Hyper-Mega Edition

Check out this 1- or 2-player, Street Fighter-style, Flash-based fighting game. Wild!

(As a side note: can anyone identify what remix version of Carl Douglas' song is playing in the background of this game's title screen?)

D'oh! A Deer, A Female Deer

09-Mar-07 2:52 PM by
Filed under Films, Television; 5 comments.

This summer, theaters will be embiggened by the silver screen debut of Springfield's first family.

The Simpsons Movie, premiering July 27th, will be an opportunity for fans old and new to indulge in this long-lived piece of Americana. And it is indeed a mainstay of our culture: though kids today may no longer express their contempt for authority with a snappy "Eat my shorts!", a variety of other cromulent phrases have entered our daily vernacular.

My earliest memory of this jaundiced clan features one of my own siblings hosting massive "Simpsons Sunday socials" in the basement, laughing uproariously at each quick, verbal punch in the latest round of animated sparring. I don't know if such parties are still held somewhere out there, and sadly, my own exposure to the Simpsons ended years ago, though not for lack of desire. Surely anything that's been on the air for nearly two decades — probably more than half the life of any one of its viewers — has some staying power.

OTOH, I'm a bit worried by what I'd find, were I to tune in again. Has this show, in my absence, jumped the shark? Could this film mark that point? Few shows have transitioned well to cinema, especially while the show is still being aired; witness X-Files and South Park, both of which met with mixed reviews. There just doesn't seem to be much incentive to pay $10 to see the same quantity of show as two free episodes back-to-back.

Based on the three trailers I've seen, I have no doubts that I'll be opening my car hole and heading to the theater this summer to reintroduce myself to Homer, Bart, and the gang.