It seems that every single channel wants to have their own superhero show. We’re already loaded with them during this fall TV season; the only weeknight free of a DC or Marvel property is Thursday. And now, another one is coming: Krypton, a Superman prequel set on the doomed planet two generations before (SPOILER ALERT) it is destroyed. Syfy is developing the program with Man of Steel‘s David Goyer and Once Upon a Time‘s Ian Goldberg at the helm. Here’s a brief synopsis:
Years before the Superman legend we know, the House of El was shamed and ostracized. This series follows The Man of Steel’s grandfather as he brings hope and equality to Krypton, turning a planet in disarray into one worthy of giving birth to the greatest Super Hero ever known.
This could be a pretty cool show, because Krypton is kind of awesome. I love the Silver and Bronze Age comics set on Krypton, and one of my most prized comic book possessions is a digest of World of Krypton stories that tell the history and legends about the planet and its people. I’m definitely going to watch it, even though with the combined creative genius of Man of Steel and Once Upon a Time it’s probably going to really suck. Nonetheless, I am onboard. It’s something different, taking the whole “prequel” thing that shows have been doing lately to a whole new level. It’d be like if Gotham was set in the 1920s or something (also, THAT is a great idea; I’d definitely watch that).
However, I’m worried that we’re hitting a tipping point with super-based properties, especially from DC. They already have four shows airing now, plus iZombie is coming at some point next year. Supergirl and Titans are also in development at CBS and TNT respectively, and now we’re throwing Krypton into the mix. I’m a HUGE nerd, and I can’t even keep up with what we’ve got now. I’m months behind on Constantine because I just have too many shows on the go, superhero and otherwise, and I watch all of my favourites first. If I can’t keep up with four shows, how am I going to keep up with eight? And I’m their target demo.
I think Marvel is managing their television properties in a much smarter way. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is their only show that lasts an actual full season. Agent Carter is going to be an eight-episode event, while their slate of upcoming Netflix shows will run 13 episodes each and be released separately, creating a similar event feel for each one. The more contained approach seems like a better way to go about things. The shows don’t get drawn out or burn through all the cool characters quickly, and it requires less of an investment from fans.
In general, television is heading towards this model for serialized shows anyway, and this is how a lot of cable shows roll, but I think it’s a particularly good fit for superheroes. Especially on the major networks. There’s always a tension on network shows between serialization and stand alone stories, but comic books are all about serialization. People get bored when there’s a bunch of shows where the Flash just takes down some random dude and a bigger plot isn’t forwarded very much. Fans like the master plan, the build towards the big bad. That’s much better accomplished with a shorter, tighter season than the usual 22 to 24 episode run. All killer, no filler, if you will.
Plus, it keeps things special. A 13 episode show is an event you have to be there for because every episode matters. A regular show is just a show. It’ll pile up on the DVR and you’ll get to it eventually. Imagine if next year there’s an hour-long DC property on every single weeknight, which is a definite possibility. Imagine how full your DVR is going to be. You’re not always in the mood for superheroes, and shows are just going to end up falling through the cracks. Superheroes are a hot commodity and I understand wanting to cash in on that, but glutting the market isn’t good for anyone.
Anyway, I’m still excited for Krypton. I just have no idea when I’m going to watch it. I probably should get through this pile of Constantine first.