Sunday, April 12, 2015
Remember when having a comic book-based TV show was so rare? Back in my youth, they were either absolutely terrible and didn't last long ("The Night Man") or were absolutely terrible and lasted forever ("Smallville"). Either way, we didn't get many of them. Most of the ones we did get really had little to nothing to do with their comic book counterparts, which made viewing them straight from the beginning a chore, but we watched them anyway...because there were just so fucking few.
Fast forward to 2015, and now it feels like every show on TV is based on a comic book series or character. Just between the past couple years up till now, we've had "The Walking Dead", "Arrow", "Flash", "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", "Agent Carter", "Constantine", "Gotham", "iZombie" (which I had no idea was a comic), and I think there were more besides but right now I'm too lazy to look it up. All shows range in quality from melodramatic to boring to enjoyable, but all have either been around for more than one season or are already renewed (save for "Constantine", which is undoubtedly the best of that whole bunch, and will more than likely be cancelled...but that's a story for another day). There's more comic based shows on the horizon, including "Supergirl", a spin off of "Walking Dead", a possible spin off of "S.H.I.E.L.D.", another DC-based show in the same universe as "Arrow" and "Flash", some untitled show about planet Krypton (yes you read that right), an adaptation of "Preacher", and a show based on "Lucifer" (?!). Netflix is offering up a bunch of Marvel-based shows, most recently with "Daredevil", which made people's heads explode apparently (granted it is really damn good), and upcoming shows based on Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist; before all four characters team up as the Defenders eventually.
Now for some characters and concepts, having a TV show instead of full blown movies is actually better. It makes for writers getting the time to flesh characters out, and it doesn't make the viewer feel like the creators aren't in a mad dash to get to the end credits. I mean after all, these shows are based on comic books, why not have them adapted into a visual medium that allows for episodic and serialized content, so it should work perfectly right?
Well, sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't.
While binge-watching "Daredevil", I noticed the episode count is 13. Having that many (or few) episodes to a season is perfect. Not once throughout this season did it feel like there was any filler thrown into the show to pad it out. Every episode felt concise and meaningful to the overall arc, while still managing to plant seeds for future Marvel Netflix shows (or maybe even future seasons of "Daredevil"). "The Walking Dead", despite its faults, still manages to mostly keep their seasons concise and to the point as well. Granted they split the season in half, which would drive me crazy back when I actually did watch the show, but no matter its faults, it still managed to keep viewers interested, mostly because it's less than 20 episodes per season.
Now those shows manage to get away with having seasons of that length because they're either part of a subscription-based streaming service or on cable TV. Shows like "Arrow", "Flash", and "S.H.I.E.L.D." are all on network TV, and hence have 20-some episodes per season. Now when you have seasons that long, chances are they get padded out with a lot of filler to keep the episode counts so high. This is the first season of "Flash", which so far hasn't felt like it's had too much filler thrown into it, while "Arrow" and "S.H.I.E.L.D." feel so drawn out that it becomes a chore to slog through 20-some episodes and you pray to yourself that the season will conclude. Not to mention the fact the overall storyarcs for both shows has been all over the place and it feels like each season of the show is 3 years long. It makes the viewer lose interest...which is happening to me. I'm looking forward to the finales of both shows this season, and pondering whether or not I'll be back for the next go-around ("Arrow" probably, "S.H.I.E.L.D." doubtful).
At least in comic books, when a storyarc seems to go on forever with padding and filler thrown into it, once we get the overall payoff, it feels good to get there. With a TV show, not so much. With comics, it's just one more thing that the medium manages to pull off that another medium cannot do, which is why comics get mined by TV producers every single day these days. I'd rather read a year or two's worth of a comic storyarc than sit through 20-some plus episodes of a comic-based TV show any day of the fucking week. Keeping shows like this at 13 episodes makes things more concise and enjoyable...and keeps the viewers salivating for more to come.
Oh, and there's way too many of these shows popping up now. Having a show based on Krypton is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. It'd be like having a show about Batman with no Batman and using his whole rogues gallery to no avail...oh wait.
I guess the point to all this was to tell you guys to stick with comics. TV rots your brain. Ya know what? Don't watch TV at all. Read comics and fuck a lot. Believe it or not you can fit time in your life for both.