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Tag Archive: CW Network


If you thought audiences may be souring on the onslaught of television series based on superheroes and comic books, you’d be wrong.  Hollywood is fully engaged in the realm of continuing to adapt comic books to the small screen.  Along with all the current series moving into next seasons this year, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Gotham, iZombie, Riverdale, Supergirl, and Wynonna Earp, you’ll have at least three more new series featuring superheroes to check out this Fall.  Check out previews for all three below after the break.

Black Lightning is the latest character from DC Comics coming to the CW.  Cress Williams plays the title character who is Jefferson Pierce by day.  On paper Black Lightning sounds a bit like The Incredibles, with a retired hero returning to the superhero business.  The superhero debuted in the comic book Black Lightning Issue #1 40 years ago.  Tony Isabella and Dennis O’Neil wrote the original stories, with artwork by Trevor Von Eedon.  Black Lightning also stars China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, and Christine Adams.

The Gifted hails from a pretty powerful TV combo: Bryan Singer, known for everything from House, M.D., to The X-Men movie series, is co-producing the show with series creator Matt Nix, showrunner on the successful series Burn Notice.  The series stars Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker (Angel) as parents who take their family on the run after they discover their children’s mutant abilities.  The series producers have said it will not intersect with the X-Men movies, but you’ll see familiar characters like Blink, Polaris, Thunderbird, and Eclipse.  The show co-stars Burn Notice’s Coby Bell, Sean Teale, Jamie Chung, Emma Dumont, Blair Redford, Natalie Alyn Lind, and Percy Hynes White.  The show will air on Fox.

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Surprisingly CW’s Riverdale not only teased the answer to the show’s big mystery in last night’s penultimate episode–instead of dragging viewers into a season finale cliffhanger–it delivered the goods.  The result is a tightly written, highly watchable and addictive first season that will stand alone as an example of how to get your characters and plot right from the very beginning, and a easy watch for new viewers wanting to jump on for Season Two.

Satisfaction.  Above all else, it’s what matters to the viewing audience.  Writers can throw twists and plenty of shock and awe onto the screen, but if they cannot tie up all the loose ends without a deus ex machina event or similar trickery, viewers won’t come back for the second season.  How many opening seasons of series give the audience enough interest to keep watching, yet they are full of ups and downs, episodes that don’t quite work, too many red herrings, and tangled plot threads that seemed to be stuffed into the show for filler?  Heroes, Lost, and Twin Peaks garnered immediate cult followings, yet they dragged the big secrets out until we just didn’t care anymore.

How few television series have been as tightly written as Riverdale?  CW’s other comic book adaptations weren’t this good in their freshman year–Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, CBS’s Supergirl–none created a finely stitched together bookend set of episodes that will be fun to watch again and again once they arrive at Netflix or other streaming services.  Riverdale took an idea: adapting a classic, 75-year-old, well-known set of characters from a beloved comic book, added in that comic book’s own modern updates from the recent past, and then gave it a dark twist.  Both Twin Peaks and the look and feel of Archie Comics’ own dark title Afterlife With Archie are owed plenty of credit, along with a great story writing team and a top-notch cast.

You’ll need to watch the series for yourself to discover who killed the Laura Palmer of Riverdale, Jason Blossom.  In fact you’ll think you have it all figured out until the big reveal at the end of last night’s episode, “Anatomy of a Murder.”  But you’ll probably be wrong.

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If you’re enjoying CW’s new Riverdale series as much as we are, then you probably have a new appreciation for Archie’s pal Jughead Jones.  The classic Jughead has always had an insatiable appetite, practically living at the Riverdale diner.  Actually we wouldn’t be surprised to see him move into the back of the joint on the television series since he lost his home at the drive-in theater, which recently closed.  This month Archie Comics is taking Jughead to a dark place and asks: What if Jughead’s hunger came from a sinister place?

When a murderous menace is on the prowl, taking the lives of some of the most well-known and esteemed inhabitants of Riverdale, Jughead and his family’s dark legacy comes to light. 

It’s Jughead: The Hunger.  It’s a story that will be a prime target for fans of the successful and popular series Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

   

Writer Frank Tieri (Wolverine) and artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers) team-up for an oversized Archie Horror one-shot.  Check out this preview courtesy of Archie Comics:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Viewers know in the first ten minutes of Riverdale that the show is going to be a winner.  Archie Comics has had 75 years to perfect its ageless story of a guy, two gals, and a bunch of friends living in Everytown, USA.  Not many comic book series are so good to successfully draw in fans year after year for so long.  With The CW’s drama Riverdale, you’ll wonder why it took so long to bring these characters to television.  The series may also give the Twin Peaks reboot some competition this year.

World building is still a requirement for a TV pilot–the writers can’t assume we all knew each character and where they fit in.  So it’s impressive most of what viewers need to know is delivered before the first commercial break.  By the end of the pilot episode, one of the age-old questions is answered, too, at least temporarily: Is Archie Andrews (played by a perfectly cast K.J. Apa) going to go after sweet and innocent Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) or seductive and fiery Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes)?

Riverdale -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: RVD101g_0002.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): KJ Apa as Archie and Lili Reinhart as Betty -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved.

Jughead (Cole Sprouse) serves as narrator for the first episode, a loner documenting the summer’s big event: death in a small town, via laptop at his table at the all-night burger joint.  But it’s new girl Veronica that we follow through town via a path similar to Buffy Summers looking to find a friend or two in the pilot to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Veronica befriends Betty and the chemistry is instantaneous.  Appropriately distracted Archie is almost a third wheel.  We’re immediately in Veronica’s corner after she punches the head cheerleader in the face with a perfectly delivered, dressing-down, and we’re equally cheering for Betty to get all the good that she deserves.

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In the latest ads for CW’s new teen series Riverdale, the live-action series looks even more like an updated Twin Peaks than in the initial teaser trailer.  CW’s television adaptation of the 75-year-old Archie Comics characters and hometown is only weeks away.  More and more we’re thinking the series has the look and feel of the Archie Comics’ recent successful expanded universe in its Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series.  Let’s face it–if the new television series really were to look like the monthly comic book, which has run relatively unchanged for its 75-year span, it would basically be a remake of Happy Days. 

However CW’s Riverdale turns out, our fingers remain crossed that we’ll see the infamous Sabrina drop in as a guest star or that the writers will find a way to incorporate at least a good Halloween episode.  Zombies, anyone?  Another classic franchise family, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, are getting their own update next year when Dynamite Comics releases a new monthly series adaptation with a noir, true crime twist: Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie.  The common theme seems to be bringing back the classics, but trying to spin them in a way to make them appeal to current audiences, which is nothing really new as adaptations go.

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The first full-length trailer and a second teaser for Riverdale were both released this week. Every classic property should get the CW teen soap opera treatment like Riverdale and Smallville and all the great DC Comics series currently running.  The shows may not be entirely loyal to the source materials, but you can bank on some interesting characters and well-told stories ahead.

Check out this first extended trailer for Riverdale:

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With DC Comics’ summer Rebirth reboot, many monthly series turned bi-weekly, and we’ve now already seen the first eleven issues published of many series.  Like the many reboots before it, DC Comics introduced the Rebirth continuity to re-ignite its fan base after the success of the prior reboot–the New 52–dissipated.  So many shake-ups and change-ups occurred in the New 52 that you’d pretty much need to read the entire DC Comics line to keep up with what has happened to even the key Justice League superheroes.  With two issues per month that’s difficult for any reader to keep up with.

One of the better sellers in this year’s Rebirth line is the Green Arrow title.  Under the New 52 Oliver Queen encountered as many changes to his character as anyone.  In fact fans of Green Arrow were probably better served subscribing to the Arrow tie-in comic book to the television series to get a dose of the classic crusader.  As likely as not the success of the CW Network series coupled perhaps with fans’ hopes for big changes from the New 52, and a restoration of the essential Oliver Queen, could account for the sales success of Green Arrow in DC’s Rebirth universe.

Otto Schmidt served as artist and colorist on the series in the introductory chapters.  Bringing Oliver’s older look back to the character, complete with the goatee, was a move in the right direction.  Schmidt used the supersuit of the modern update yet his style conjures up both Neal Adams and Mike Grell’s key design elements that defined Green Arrow’s look for decades.  Writer Benjamin Percy, who was the writer on the series before the Rebirth kicked in, re-introduced the second key element that defines Oliver: his partnership with Black Canary.  The lack of the Arrow-Canary partnership contributed to the wane of Oliver’s story in the New 52–as a solo character Queen was just too much like everyone else.  Percy’s other shift is reminding everyone that Queen is first and foremost a fighter for social justice.  In contrast to the billion dollar company he sometimes owns and sometimes loses, Queen is the ultimate anti-corporate superhero.  So these three elements: his look, his partnership with Black Canary, and his brand of justice, form the framework for what could be a solid Green Arrow series going forward.

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Plenty is left to be done.  Queen’s social justice efforts have only scratched the surface with eleven issues already in the can.  Instead, Percy has opted for some frivolous, but fun, nostalgia: several scenes are spent restarting a romance between Oliver and Dinah, and he’s brought back classic secondary characters like Shado and Eddie Fyers, both from Mike Grell’s definitive Green Arrow series The Longbow Hunters.  With the story now firmly set in Seattle, also as Grell had done with the setting–and not Star City–we can see some good attempts are being made to rediscover what made the 1980s and 1990s Green Arrow worth reading about.

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In the first trailer for CW’s Riverdale, the live-action series looks more like an updated Twin Peaks than the classic comic book.  But what a way to make an update!  How will we know if Riverdale is a success?  CW’s television adaptation of the nearly 80-year-old Archie Comics universe is only weeks away.  Yet if you look back on your favorite teen television shows you may find writers and casting agents have been pulling from the Archie playbook before.  Just take a look back at Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Who was a better Jughead than Xander?  And did you ever see the original best frenemies Betty and Veronica in the love-hate relationship of Buffy and Faith?  What about the dynamic of the leads in CW’s previous successful teen-driven, comic book series Smallville?  Will Archie Comics’ own tried and tested formula prove to make Riverdale a keeper?

However CW’s Riverdale turns out, our fingers are crossed that we’ll see the infamous Sabrina drop in as a guest star or that the writers will find a way to incorporate at least a good Halloween episode banking on the success of the publisher’s recent Afterlife With Archie series.  What sure-fire way to please a current audience than delivering a zombie episode?

Riverdale -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: RVD101g_0002.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): KJ Apa as Archie and Lili Reinhart as Betty -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved.

The first teaser for Riverdale dropped this week.  Although it doesn’t give us much, we get a look at the characters and a glimpse of the creepy tone of the show–a very CW teen-focused looking series.  These kinds of shows have proven to be CW’s niche realm, along with its recent success with superheroes in its five DC Comics series: Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, iZombie, and Supergirl. 

Check out this first teaser for Riverdale:

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Is a Crisis on Infinite Earths adaptation on its way at last?  Never before have all the pieces been laid out so well to adapt such a major comic book storyline.  We have key player Barry Allen from The Flash, which spun-out of the Arrow series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow have enough timey-wimey time travel to be able to see, view, and undo anything, and then the CW pulled over Supergirl from ABC this year and brought Superman with her.  So the building blocks are ready.  Is CW and DC Entertainment willing and able?  Next week we’re going to see a step in the right direction with a mega-superhero week.

Monday, the CW begins a four-night crossover event with its four DC Comics-inspired series–and nothing screams comic books louder than a good crossover and major league team-up.  The villains are a bit obscure–the Dominators–aliens Supergirl will encounter Monday night.  The Dominators first appeared in the 1960s in Adventure Comics with a brief reprise in a mini-series called Invasion in 1989, and that’s the take-off point for the villains in next week’s event.

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So it’s “Heroes vs. Aliens,” comic books coming to life in perhaps the biggest character showdown ever, actors donning Academy Award-winning costumer Colleen Atwood’s pantheon of more than 17 hero supersuits (Green Arrow, The Flash, Diggle/Green Arrow 2, Supergirl, Superman, Black Canary, Vixen, The Atom, White Canary, Steel, Wally West, two Firestorms, Speedy, Death Stroke, Martian Manhunter, Heat Wave, and more).  We haven’t seen this many superheroes on TV since the animated Super Friends.

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In the middle of the week, Arrow will see its landmark 100th episode Wednesday night.  Who would have thought any superhero series would survive this long?  Take a look at these previews for crossover week:

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It’s arrival brought us a new age in superhero television series–arguably the best comic book TV adaptation since the original 1980s series The Flash that starred John Wesley Shipp.  It’s Arrow, the CW Network’s groundbreaking story of Oliver Queen starring Stephen Amell.  Unlike the successful Marvel Comics movie series, Arrow looked outside the comic book’s core stories and expanded the source material to allow the inclusion of B, C, and D level villains plus many superheroes, ultimately including most of the second tier Justice League members.  Surpassing the DC’s movie efforts and Marvel’s attempts at small-screen serials, Arrow has continued to make comic books come alive for four years since we first reviewed the world premiere viewing of the pilot at San Diego Comic-Con here at borg.com back in July 2012.

The stories have been different but loyal to its origins.  Instead of Star City or Seattle the stories were based in Starling City.  Sidekicks nicknamed Speedy became split into his sister Thea and Roy Harper.  Two Black Canary characters were formed from two sisters instead of the mother and daughter split in the classic stories.  And Green Lantern is not in the picture at all.  Along the way the series split off Barry Allen’s Flash into his own fun series, a dozen other heroes and villains joined DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and this year CW’s DC on TV ties in Supergirl.  So many untapped stories can now be told as the DC universe is apparently unshackeled barring only interconnected stories with Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Aquaman, who will be featured on the big screen next year instead.

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Tomorrow night the fifth episode of Season 5 airs.  For those fans who want to delve into an “in-universe” look at Oliver Queen and his efforts to save his city, Titan Books has released Arrow: Oliver Queen’s Dossier, a detailed, 160-page scrapbook of notes, newspaper articles, documents, and records collected by Starling City’s emerald archer as he investigated crimes in the first three seasons of the TV series.

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Where DC Entertainment has been limping along in its efforts to bring superheroes to the big screen in recent years, it has ruled the airwaves on network television thanks to the CW Network and the creative team of Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg.  What Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan have failed to capture–the same interesting, exciting, rich stories, character development, action, and fun of comic books–these guys have delivered, tapping into what fanboys and fangirls want most.

Are their shows perfect?  Definitely not.  The budget for television series doesn’t allow the freedom of big budget movies.  The stories adapted to the small screen have also changed many things from the comics and when the characters themselves have fans of multiple versions of each character… well, you can’t be all things to all people.  Yet, DC on TV has fared better than on film.  We’d all rather see the relationships build between superheroes, even if they are the B-team superheroes, than costly explosion-filled disaster movies posing as superhero stories.  Yes, we’re talking about you, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and The Dark Knight Rises.

The CW Network has cornered the market on the best of DC on TV.  And this Fall with the addition of Supergirl from ABC, we now will have a superhero series every night from DC and Warner Bros.  If DC really had its act together it would see that Fox’s Gotham switched from Monday nights to Fridays, for a full weekday schedule, but that doesn’t look like it will happen.

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This past week, to preview the new season and what characters we can look forward to, including–at last–Martian Manhunter (the last remaining key Justice League character to make it to the modern live-action DC Universe) the CW released a follow-up to last year’s Superhero Fight Club video.  Check it out:

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