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Friday, 3 October 2014

62 Years of DC Superheroes on TV

Marvel may have spent the last five years pummeling DC Comics in movie theaters, but on the small screen, DC is king. With "Gotham," "The Flash," and "Constantine" premiering this fall, and supposed "Supergirl" and "Teen Titans" shows in the works, it's time to look back at the last 70 years of the live-action televised DC Universe. Here are some of the best, worst and weirdest adaptations of some of their most beloved characters.

"Superboy" (1988)
Unsurprisingly, "Legends of the Superheroes" signaled the end of superhero TV shows for nearly a decade. That, plus the tailspin of the Christopher Reeves "Superman" films, kept DC off the airwaves throughout most of the 80s, and when it returned, it did so with "Superboy." Kind of underwhelming, right? The show wasn't known for its quality; it was more of a poorly written version of the "Superman" movies. There's some joy in watching WWF Superstar Lex Luger in a Superman costume, but not enough joy to recommend this show.

"Swamp Thing: The Series" (1990)
Failing to match the sophistication of Alan Moore's mid-80s comic book run, the campy fun of the early-80s movies or the subsequent cartoon series’s theme song, "Swamp Thing: The Series" had a strong cult following but also some serious detractors. Watching the show now is a chore, but it somehow managed to wrangle 72 episodes between 1990-93. Nine years later, "Freaks and Geeks" would be canceled after 12, because life isn’t fair.

"The Flash" (1991)
While "Swamp Thing: The Series" and "Superboy" were enjoying an undeserved multi-season runs, and Tim Burton’s "Batman" was breaking records, CBS decided to take "The Flash" for a spin. With CBS investing $1.6 million per episode, "The Flash" needed to hit the ground, uh, running. So the show attracted big name guest stars, such as Mark Hamill and David Cassidy, to fill out the hero's Rogues Gallery, but scheduled for a Thursday night slot, "The Flash" was going up against "The Cosby Show" and "The Simpsons," which were embroiled in a heated ratings battle at the time. Armed with only the seemingly useless power of running really fast, things became too much for The Flash to handle, and the show was quickly canceled and forgotten.

"Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (1993)
"Lois & Clark" may have started the trend towards shows about out-of-costume superheroes, which continues to this day with ten years of "Smallville" and tonight's premiere of "Gotham." While Lois (Teri Hatcher) was a focal point for the series, which focused more closely on Clark (Dean Cain) than Superman, "The New Adventures of Superman" did have enough costumed adventuring to keep the show on the air for four seasons. And the show was a smash hit, with 15 million people watching new episodes every week by Season 3.

"Justice League of America" (1997)
This unaired pilot is a nightmare, a poorly scripted, acted, and directed sitcom that just happens to feature superheroes. It's a strange assortment of Justice League participants -- Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and The Flash being the most recognizable -- in a war against lousy special effects, ill-fitting costumes and a villain who really doesn’t help either of those things. With such nail-biting adventures as The Atom fixing the TV of his roommate Green Lantern, it's not hard to figure out why no network picked this one up.

Justice League America JLA TV Pilot by fmvgamer
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