Comic book adaptations are the big-ticket item in Hollywood right now. The movies have been box office smashes and now Fox hopes to replicate the success by allowing comic book adaptations to populate their TV lineup, an indication of a new direction being pursued by the company for TV. The television network has unveiled their new lineup of scheduled programming for the 2014 season. The company appears to be going into a more serious direction after their disappointing million viewer drop last season. Gotham – the Batman prequel focusing on James Gordon – is gearing up to be the spearhead of this new direction.
Fox has shown the door to its freshman comedies Dads, Enlisted and Surviving Jack. It seems the silly comedies did not strike a core with their viewership in the way that other television network companies’ shows have done. AMC’s Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead (also a comic book adaptation) have gained a large fandom and a slew of awards. HBO’s Game of Thrones has been setting records as the company’s most watched program in history. Fox is now looking to follow suit by canceling their selection of comedies, and they are now supporting a fresh batch of dramas – some being comic book adaptations – to indicate they are on board for this new direction in TV. They have even gone so far as to not devote so many hours to their reality show American Idol. Fox’s Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly stated that the show’s viewership has depreciated over the years, and the days of the show dominating the ratings are done.
Gotham, starring Benjamin McKenzie (Southland), tells the story of a young Commissioner Gordon trying to rise through the ranks of the Gotham City Police Department by taking down an eclectic group of villains. The show will also feature Donal Logue and Jada Pinkett Smith. Based on the trailer, the show is adopting the feel of the immensely successful Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy by mimicking the dark realism of the comic book in a modern relatable town. Reilly has predicted that the show will be Fox’s biggest success of 2014. The company’s other notable drama is Red Band Society, a drama about high school kids residing in a pediatric ward of a hospital. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer is the lead of the program, and its producers include Steven Spielberg and Justin Falvey.
Fox are not the only ones who are utilizing comic book adaptations to indicate a new direction for TV. The CW is planning to release a television series based on the popular comic book character The Flash, aptly named The Flash. The CW is also responsible for the comic book adaptation Arrow as well, which was met with mixed reviews but utilizes dark thematic elements. ABC as well has recently renewed the Marvel Comics-based series Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. The network has also picked up another Marvel Comics-based show Agent Carter, starring Hayley Atwell. Fox and other TV network lineups are capitalizing on the success of comic book adaptations and dramatic television in 2014, whether or not they will be as successful as their movie counterparts remains to be seen.
By Andres Loubriel