Up, Up, and Away

Last year about this time I posted a preview of the upcoming Fall TV season focusing on the new shows that I planned on checking out.  Of those six series, four of them (A to Z, Selfie, Gracepoint, and Constantine) were cancelled, one (Gotham) I gave up on after a weak season and truly horrendous season finale, and one (The Flash) I have stayed with because it’s actually…you know…entertaining. 

I considered doing the same thing for this season, but I quickly realized that there’s really no point.  Yes, lots of new shows are premiering, but I can’t say that I’m very interested.  Out of everything that’s been announced, I’m only going to be checking out two of them.

First is The Muppets.  I have to admit that my interest here is more about my own love for the characters than anything about the show itself.  The promo reel, which makes it look like The Office was sporadically amusing but also struck me as trying too hard in spots.  I also haven’t been thrilled with getting the entertainment news media to report on the breakup of Kermit and Miss Piggy; although, I have to admit that it’s a brilliant way to get the characters back into the public eye and raise awareness of the upcoming series.  They’ve been using social media well, with Kermit responding to the rumors on Twitter.  I also witnessed Piggy and William Shatner flirting with each other via Twitter.  Between that and the ads for the show that have Piggy checking out Nathan Fillion’s butt and then him slipping out of her trailer early one morning looking quite disheveled, it’s apparent that Miss Piggy has a thing for spaceship captains.  Makes me wonder what was going on behind the scenes (and behind Kermit’s back) on the set of Pigs in Space.

Now I’m wondering about their personal lives.  See how effective the show’s viral marketing has been?!?  I’ll definitely be watching the first few episodes.  Hopefully the rest of the show will be as smart as the ad campaign has been.

Otherwise the only show on my radar for this season is Supergirl.  The announcement of this series surprised me, not so much because of the subject (It’s superheroes all the time now), but because of the network.  CBS is known more for crime procedurals and sitcoms than anything else.  Supergirl is a very different direction for them, but one that I’m glad to see them taking.

I had seen Melissa Benoist, the actress playing Kara Danvers/Supergirl, on Glee.  She joined the cast in that show’s fourth season as one of the new McKinley High students after most of the originals headed off to New York City.  While I stopped watching Glee in the middle of that season, Benoist’s character, Marley, was really the only one of the new arrivals that I liked.  Nothing about her screamed “superhero,” though.

Then I watched the promo reel for Supergirl.  Sure, as has been said elsewhere, the beginning had a bit of a The Devil Wears Prada feel to it, but once the “super” part began, I was hooked.  Benoist is very engaging in the footage, and show looks fun!

I shouldn’t be too surprised, since the series is created and produced by Greg Berlanti, who is also the produce of The Flash and Arrow over on The CW.  Yes, Arrow is a bit on the serious side, but The Flash has remembered that comic book heroes can be fun.  That series has jumped into the comics material without reservations, and has managed to make a telepathic gorilla and a suit that fits into a ring work.

While the DC movie universe seems to be going all-in on gritty, dark, and brooding, the TV universe is remembering to bring in the light sometimes.

As I was preparing to write this, I had the thought that this is a good time to do a Supergirl series, since the effects should be easier to pull off.  But then I realized that Superman has been on TV in live-action far more than the seemingly much-easier-to-do Batman.

The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves ran for six years from 1952 through 1958.  Then in 1961 there was a pilot for The Adventures of Superboy.  Almost 30 years later, another Superboy series premiered in syndication and ran for four years from 1988 through 1992.  The following year Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman began on ABC and ran for four seasons until 1997.  Most recently, Smallville had a decade long run from 2001 through 2011 starting on The WB and ending on The CW.  That’s almost a quarter century of the big blue boy scout on television in live action form.  In cartoon form, you could probably add another 25 years.  Meanwhile, Batman has the three seasons of the Adam West series and two “Batman without Batman” series, the short-lived Birds of Prey from 2002 and Gotham, which is about to start its second season.

Back to Supergirl, the character has had very few live-action appearances.  There was the 1984 Supergirl film that was spun-off from the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and was not successful enough to launch a franchise of its own.  Over two decades later, the character appeared regularly in the seventh season of Smallville and a couple of additional times in seasons eight and ten.  She has had more animated appearances, but compared to her cousin, she is something of a clean slate as far as the audience’s knowledge of her.

I fall into that clean slate group.  I didn’t see the 80s movie or any of her Smallville  episodes.  I don’t think I’ve even seen any of her animated appearances outside of a couple of the very funny Super Best Friends Forever shorts that aired on Cartoon Network.  I know almost nothing about the character beyond the very basics, and, as is true with many comic book heroes, even those basics have shifted over the years.

I’m looking forward to coming into the new Supergirl series with no preconceived notions.  As long as it’s as fun and entertaining as the promo and Berlanti’s other series, The Flash, I should be a happy viewer.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter