The CW-TV-DCU- Trouble in the Multiverse?

The CW collection of DC superhero shows *might* be in a bit of trouble. I say this for a variety of reasons. 

*First, after 8 seasons, they no longer have Arrow anchoring the “Arrowverse”. This is not really that bad but it seems a tad awkward. I’m surprised that they not only allowed Ollie to die as Ollie but to also die as the Spectre in Crisis. Especially since the Spectre shouldn’t really be able to die, plus, it would have been kind of interesting to see Ollie pop up in the future in a green hood of a different, sepulchral nature. But that’s a small niggle, not really an issue.

1.Ruby Rose leaving Batwoman. *That’s* an issue. As is how they’re addressing it. Both officially and unofficially, the arrangement wasn’t working out for her *or* the production company and the rest of the crew that had to work with her. Tensions and attitudes on set made for problems, so both sides decided she had to go. The producers could just recast the role of Kate Kane/Batwoman but instead, they’re going to cast a new character to be Batwoman. This new character will be a former drug runner who made a lot of bad decisions but is also kind of goofy and an out lesbian. Not sure how they came up with this decision. They’ve stated that they’re looking to cast an out lesbian actress as well. 

I was initially happy to see Batwoman get a show on the CW, roughly based on the comic. IN the comics, Kate Kane is a pretty cool, formidable, capable character, with an awesome costume and impressive backstory. That being said, the CW screwed it up, in my opinion. For whatever reason, this Kate Kane didn’t seem that capable or impressive and when it came to villains, they focused almost exclusively on her sister Alice. I got bored and bailed after Crisis. She was fairly useless in Crisis as well– so was Ollie, but he got the honor of dying a couple times. All in all, the show was quickly taking a nosedive.

The producers now bringing in an entirely new character to play Batwoman makes no sense to me at all. Are they ditching the entire supporting cast? Because I’m not sure how a brand new character would just insert herself into the system of working with Luke Fox in the Batcave. I would have thought they’d just insert Kate’s old girlfriend from the academy or maybe even Julia Pennyworth, Alfred’s daughter, who’s also an out lesbian to take over. Keep it in the family. But no. Good luck to them and this entirely questionable new direction.

2.Supergirl has taken the biggest nosedive as far as ratings go, starting out with 12 million four years ago, and now trying to scrape by with less than a million. Mind you, I’ve heard the show is a bit better now that Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) is a regular in the post Crisis version but whether it’s helped the ratings, I don’t know. Although it’s worth noting that CW will gladly take any ratings, being a third rate cable network. I also don’t know how many more seasons Supergirl will last. I haven’t been able to stomach the show, mostly because the writers and Benoist made Kara/Supergirl out to be a bit of a nerdy, perky, wimpy, precious idiot. Usually acting more like an insecure sidekick to Superman than a hero in her own right. The majority of the supporting cast was decent, although there is the typical comic relief that undercuts the intellectual content thanks to Brainiac 5–although I’ve been told that’s changed since Crisis too. I think Supergirl’s going into its sixth season next fall, if filming resumes depending on COVID-19. It might be their last since Superman and Lois are getting their own show this fall. 

3.Heart to hearts and pep talks. The sheer volume of instances where heroes have a weekly crisis of faith in their own abilities and desperately need to be talked down off the insecurity ledge EVERY WEEK is frightening. This mushy soap opera crap is part of the CW “house style” and my god it is annoying. A few weeks ago in an ep of the Flash, in the span of 15 minutes, they wasted all of our time by having six straight pep talks back to back to back to back to back to back. It doesn’t matter that half the characters needed the same heart to heart talk the week before but evidently they are either just really really insecure or have crap memories. 

4.Legends of the DC Universe… it’s continued existence mystifies me. I mean, it has its fans but it’s not my cup of tea. Why these cartoonish buffoons are even allowed to call themselves “Legends” is laughable, but I guess that’s all part of the joke. I guess it’s offensive to me on one level because they’re taking established heroes and turning them into scatterbrained imbeciles and laughing stocks. But then it’s also offensive to me on a comedy level because the humor is aimed at the lowest common  denominator, and is not the slightest bit clever, just very remedial. The Hudson brothers had smarter material than this (look it up, kids). Somehow, the show even manages to offend me regarding its idiot handling of time travel. The producers claim to be big fans of Doctor Who but guh. You’d never know it from the writing quality.

5.Hartley Sawyer, who played Ralph Dibney/Elongated Man has been fired from the Flash because of sexually and racially insensitive tweets from a few years ago. Some really stupid, violent tweets that sat there like a digital time bomb for 6 to 8 years. You’d think by this point, producers would start including Twitter history in the background checks when hiring actors because it is astonishing how many celebrities came right out of the Tweet-box with incredibly career ending comments. The atmosphere is more more sensitive and intolerant today but even 8 years ago, these were deal breakers. See ya, Ralph.

BUT there are positives. 

1.Black Lightning is going into its 4th season this fall, COVID-19 permitting. This show has been an impressive production at almost every step. It runs with a shorter season of 16 eps, thus, a tighter narrative and far mess padding eps like all the rest of the CW selections. The characters and relationships are more real and grounded as well. Up until now, it’s been the best of the CW. And Black Lightning himself is resoundingly kick-ass.

2.Stargirl is three eps in and so far, it’s been hitting some home runs. Good performances and stories so far, that set the show apart from most of the usual CW fare. There are only 13 eps this season. Again, like Black Lightning, very smart. No huge, padded, bloated 23 ep seasons like Flash or Supergirl. Less soap opera. Better scripts. This is probably because this show was created for the DC streaming service as well as being made available to the CW. As such, it’s possibly not as beholden to some of the lame CW rules and “house style”. We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but Stargirl, so far, is a bright spot on the roster.

Sadly, the series starts with a flashback to ten years earlier, when the original Justice Society of America is killed in battle. It’s really a shame because first, they were all more interesting characters and second, I get the feeling a batch of inexperienced teens are going to try and take up the mantles. I see disaster awaiting –probably some really unfortunate deaths–but we’ll see which way it all goes. 

3.Green Lantern is another property being developed into a DC tv show, but I don’t know much about it other than it’s slated to appear only on HBOMAX, the latest streaming service, the second to hawk DC material and another service I won’t be buying. It’d be nice if they showed it on the CW, like they’re doing with Stargirl.

Honestly, I had hopes that they’d put together a Justice League of America show at some point, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. Even if it did, seeing as how the writers handled Legends, maybe it’s for the best. Besides, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever have Batman, Aquaman or Wonder Woman showing up, Green Arrow’s dead, Flash has only got maybe one or two seasons left in him and GL isn’t even here yet. So, probably not.

 All in all, the producers (the Berlanti group), still have some good cards up their sleeves. I just hope more are coming, because the thing IS.

Published by rickjlundeen

Storyboard and comic book illustrator/creator/publisher

One thought on “The CW-TV-DCU- Trouble in the Multiverse?

  1. The best of the Arrowverse were the first two seasons of Arrow and the first season of The Flash. Every now and then it hits a good moment (usually during the crossovers). I think if The Flash was a stronger show and didn’t have Barry Allen crying about he’s not good enough/fast enough/smart enough every week it would have kept it’s 4 million viewers (from it’s series premiere). As it was, Arrow had the lowest ratings of the Arrowvere shows by the end. The Flash was the highest rated.

    Supergirl started off strong in the ratings because the first season was on CBS. When it moved to the CW I think it dropped down to about 3 million. The move saved the show in one sense but the CW doesn’t have nearly the audience that bigger networks like CBS or ABC has. When Supergirl hit season 4 the politics threw a lot of people off. Once every now and then it’s ok to get political in a superhero show, but people watch these shows for superheroes in tights fighting supervillains, not to get preached at every week (especially when it’s the same message over and over).

    As much as I love Batwoman in the comics, the show has been a disappointment. Kate Kane had already been overshadowed by Alice in season 1 and while the series improved towards the end of the season it really needed to use a few different villains. Changing the lead character for one that was never in the comics (assuming they don’t change her name from “Ryan Wilder”) seems like a huge mistake given how much the show centered around Kate’s relationships with her family.

    Legends started out a muddling mess, became a fun romp through time in seasons 2 and 3 but then started going over the top and losing all sense of reality in season 4. It doesn’t help that the big name characters (Atom, Firestorm, Captain Cold, Hawkman, Hawkgirl) the show started with have all been replaced by characters who aren’t really superheroes and have no business calling themselves “Legends”, even ironically.

    Black Lightning doesn’t get the love the other CW shows do. If you go on Twitter or Youtube you can always find people tweeting or reacting to the other CW superhero shows, but Black Lightning doesn’t seem to get any attention. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s pretty disconnected from the other shows (existing in a separate universe before the Crisis) or if the more grounded nature of the show (no real costumed villains, etc.) turns people away.

    Stargirl (like Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol) was developed by a completely different team at DC Universe and is therefore outside the Greg Berlanti kingdom of superhero shows. It focuses a bit more on superheroics than soap opera elements at this point, but if the DC Universe service ends and it goes exclusively to the CW that could change.

    I’m still excited to see Superman and Lois, though I think if “Green Arrow and the Canaries” ever does get picked up (seems unlikely) it might be better to cut at least one of the Canaries from the show and just focus on Mia Smoak-Queen as the Green Arrow of the future.

    The Arrowverse can still survive and thrive if the writing was better. Everything starts from there.

    Like

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