Two Tivos To Paradise 11.08.13: The 10 Best Live Action Superhero Shows Of All Time
Posted by Al Norton on 11.08.2013
From Arrow and Wonder Woman to The Tick, Heroes and more, 411's Al Norton counts down the top 10 live-action superhero TV shows! Plus news on Steve McQueen's new HBO drama and more!
Hello friends. What's good? Can you believe it's November?!?!? We're less than two months from 2014, people! Mrs. Tivo has already started her holiday shopping, with the stated goal of being done before we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner.
Believe was Mrs. Tivo's favorite pilot this spring, coming to Sundays on NBC after the Winter Olympics…
Speaking of mid-season replacements, ABC is looking forward to bringing Mixology your way…
She told me to news but I was already there.
Late At Night I Toss And I Turn And I Dream Of What I Need
A HUGE week for superhero-centric TV news, with the biggest announcement being a Disney and Netflix for four live-action series featuring Marvel characters that will lead into a mini-series event. Things will begin in November of 2015 with a 13 episode series about Daredevil, followed by similar 13 episode runs focused on Jessica Jones, Iron First, and then Luke Cage, all culminating in The Defenders, a mini-series where the characters come together as a team.
Also breaking this week was the news that The CW is working on Hourman – a take on a DC Comics' character who has visions of tragic events one hour in the future – which means the network could potentially have THREE superhero shows in its lineup in 2014-2015 (Arrow, The Flash, and this new show).
We've also told you over the last few weeks about multiple other superhero shows in development for next season (Gotham, Constantine), so now seemed like a great time to bust out a list of…
THE TEN BEST LIVE-ACTION SUPERHERO SHOWS IN TV HISTORY
10) The Tick
A woefully under watched superhero comedy starring the genius that is Patrick Warburton. If this came along now on FXX, it would do well.
9) Wonder Woman
It's pretty sad that we haven't had a successful female-driven superhero series in 30+ years but that doesn't take away the impact Lynda Carter had an entire generation of TV viewers.
8) The Adventures of Superman
The oldest show on this list but that doesn't mean it should be forgotten. It was, for anyone 45 and older, the first glimpse we got of a superhero on TV.
Not my personal favorite – thought it could be have been a couple of seasons shorter, and I was always more interested in Clark Kent/Superman than I was just Clark Kent – but there's no denying the success and overall quality level of the longest running live action superhero series in TV history.
From the ages of 5 – 10 this was far and away my favorite TV show, and I take great pleasure in how much my now 5 year old son loves it, too. At first viewing I didn't grasp the camp factor – I was just thrilled to have a superhero show on TV every day in the pre-cable world – but now I have a much greater appreciation for the satire. If nothing else the show is totally worth watching to learn more about stars from the 50's who guest as villains.
5) The Greatest American Hero
The first hour long show I can remember watching live every week, or perhaps I should call it the first hour long series my parents let me watch live every week. While I had certainly enjoyed afternoon reruns of The Waltons, Streets of San Francisco, Kung Fu, and Hawaii 5-0, and was a regular viewer of comedies like Three's Company, MASH, Barney Miller, Happy Days, and Laverne and Shirley, this was a major step in my maturity as a TV viewer. The show mixed comedy and drama and what worked very well is that some weeks the bad guy was a small time hood and other weeks it was a larger scale, so it kept you interested.
If it had ended after one season it actually might be # 1 on this list but, sadly for its legacy, it did not, which is not to say the seasons that came after were terrible (they had their moments and were always very well cast), it's just that Heroes season one was a breathtaking thrill ride of viewership in ways TV hadn't had in some time. I still get chills when I think of future Hiro visiting current day Hiro on the train, and we got a look at the warrior he would turn into. And if you can get the audience excited about the reveal of one of the characters real names, you're doing something right. It couldn't keep it up but there has never been a superhero show that matched Heroes quality level when it was at its best.
Only a few episodes in to its second season and it ranks # 3 on the list? Some of it is that there haven't been a ton of great superhero shows but most of it is that this shows kicks some serious ass, knowing when to keep a straight face while fighting the good fight and knowing when to wink at the audience. Easily the best action sequences on TV today, and it doesn't hurt to have a cast this uniformly easy on the eyes. By the time it's done Arrow could easily move up to # 2 on this list.
2) The Middleman
This may get me some arguments about whether or not The Middleman is actually a superhero show but hell, it's my list and I say it is – they fight evil using all sorts of special gadgets and technology not available to the average person, they keep their jobs a secret to their friends and family, and they wear costumes/uniforms…if Batman is a superhero and The Green Hornet is a superhero, The Middleman is most definitely a superhero, and the one season series was genius. In my many, Many, MANY years of watching TV I've never seen a scripted series blend in as many pop culture references as this show did, making me laugh out loud and also feel for the characters at times, too. It's really a great show and I urge you to check it out if you aren't familiar with it.
1) The Incredible Hulk
No TV show – OR MOVIE – has better captured the duality of the secret identity/superhero relationship, the angst that comes with carrying that burden, better than The Incredible Hulk, and I'd easily put Bill Bixby's performance up there with Christian Bale (Batman), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), and Christopher Reeve (Superman).
There you have it, and now it's your turn – use the comments section below to list your favorite live action superhero TV shows as well as to thoughtfully point out to me where I epically failed and/or lost all credibility.
Always Saying Little Girl, Don't Step Into The Club, Well I'm Just Trying To Find Out Why Cause Dancing's What I Love 12 Years A Slave is one of the best reviewed movies of the last few years, a surefire Oscar and Golden Globe contender to the point where other movie companies are rethinking the release dates on their movies so as not to compete with it on the awards stage. Because of this, the folks involved with the movie are now quite in demand and two of them have put projects into development in the world of television.
Steve McQueen, the movie's director, is teaming up with writer Matthew Michael Carnahan (World War Z), Russell Simmons, and Oscar winning producers Iain Canning & Emile Sherman (The King's Speech) on an HBO drama about a young African-American male entering the world of NY high society and the secret past he is hiding. McQueen and Carnahan are writing the pilot, which McQueen will direct.
John Ridley, who wrote the movie, is writing and executive producing a new drama in development at ABC; American Crime looks at a Central Valley, CA murder trial from various points of view, with aspects of race, class, and gender in modern day USA under the microscope. Ridley got started writing for TV, with a resume that includes Third Watch, Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and The John Larroquette Show. He also wrote the great book Stray Dogs, which was turned into the highly underrated movie U Turn.
The movie has been playing in limited release for several weeks, going wider as we head into November, so I included the trailer above in case you weren't familiar with it yet. While I know some people think racism is no longer an issue facing our country, that's of course not true, but even putting that aside, there are still issues of racial and cultural identity that exist for most people and I love the idea of a show/shows that take a thoughtful look at them. One of the keys to projects like this working is the recognition that no TV show is going to offer up actual answers, but a well-made TV series may go a long way towards opening eyes and furthering dialogue on just what the questions are.
It's Time To Play The Music, It's Time To Light The Lights The Muppet Show video of the week…
But You Were Up To Your Old Tricks In Chapters Four Five And Six
Ratings Notes From The Last Seven Days…
THURSDAY It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown DOUBLED the demos that Once Upon a Time in Wonderland put on in that spot last week...Scandal won the night in the demos...CBS started with a Big Bang rerun, which did well but nowhere near what a new episode pulls in, causing The Millers (-26%) and The Crazy Ones (-17%) to drop...Sean Saves the World was up a bit, The MJF Show down a bit, and Parenthood matched last week...Vampire Diaries and Reign matched last week's demos...
As usual, Shark Tank won the night in the demos and Blue Bloods was the most watched show of the night...Dracula was down 28% in week two but still tied for the 10pm demo crown…Grimm was down double digits in totals and demos...Undercover Boss won 8pm in total viewers & demos...
Kerry Washington's red-hotness isn't contained to Scandal; her SNL hosting debut led to the show hitting a season high and posting its best numbers since Justin Timberlake joined the 5-timers club in March…ABC's Saturday Night (College) Football is up 15% from this point last year…
A week after hitting a season high, Homeland went one step further on Sunday and hit a series high; the total combined two airing audience of 2.75 million was a new record for the Showtime drama, topping the season two finale two airing total of 2.75 million. When all the various viewing platforms are combined, season three is average 6.6 million viewers, an increase of 24% from season two... The Walking Dead has been the top demo performer among regular series for some time but for the last two week's its topped even NBC's Sunday Night Football (aka THE NUMBER ONE SHOW ON ALL OF TV), with last night's 8% margin of victory matching last Sundays...Sunday Night Football was up a bit from last week and, as usual, won the night in total viewers and demos for broadcast TV...Revenge was up 11% in total viewers and 21% in the demos, while its lineup mates Once Upon a Time and Betrayal were each up a smidge in both measures...The Good Wife hit a season high in total viewers and tied a season high in the demos...Fox's animated lineup was back after several weeks of baseball preemptions and everything but Family Guy was down, with The Simpsons (-17%) taking the biggest tumble...
MONDAY HIMYM was up 12% to its second best demos of the season, winning the night in that measure among scripted series...Mike & Molly was down 16% from last season's premiere but up from last spring's finale...Hostages was up in total viewers but down to tie a series low in demos...Castle was up double digits in totals and demos, hitting a season high in the latter...The Voice was down double digits in totals and demos but still easily won the night in the latter...The Blacklist hit a season/series low in the demos but still won 10pm...Beauty and the Beast was down 19% in total viewers, meaning that just under 675K people watched (a low for the night among broadcast networks and quite likely the least watched show on the big 5 for the week)...
Strong night for Fox, with Dads & Brooklyn Nine Nine gaining in total viewers and staying even in the demos and New Girl (+11%) and The Mindy Project (+15%) up in the demos...Marvel's Agents of SHIELD was down for the 5th straight week, which led to The Goldbergs and Trophy Wifee down in totals and demos (that means those two comedies performer better last week with a SHIELD rerun!!!!)...NCIS was the most watched show of the night with 19 million viewers while The Voice posted the night's best demos...
A big night for the CMA Awards on ABC, up 24% in the demos and with the highest total viewer numbers in four years, winning the night in both...The X Factor set a new series low for a live performance episode...Revolution was even for the 4th week in a row, which is good news on one hand but that also means 4th at 8pm for four week in a row...Arrow was up a bit in the demos, as was SVU...
All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors…FXX has signed a deal for Ali G: Rezurection, a "new" show that will feature all the episodes of Da Ali G Show that aired on HBO, each with new introductions from Sacha Baron Cohen (in character) along with six episodes of the show that never aired in the US before (only in England) plus several "Best of" episodes. Also mixed in will be all the Ali G segments that were a part of The 11 O'clock Show. Look for it in the first quarter of 2014…ABC picked up the back nine episodes of Trophy Wife and The Goldbergs, meaning each will have a full 22 episode first season, and ordered four more episodes of Super Fun Night. The network also cancelled Back in the Game, saying it would air the 13 episodes it originally ordered but wouldn't be moving forward with any more…Damon Wayans Jr.'s return to New Girl was originally set for 4 episodes but they've now signed him for the rest of the season…While it's not exactly a traditional crossover (there will be no characters in common), the episode of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD that will run on November 19th will incorporate the plot of the movie Thor: The Dark World, which opens in theater on Friday November 8th; the story finds Agent Coulson and company helping in the recovery from the events of the movie. The hour will be directed by Jonathan Frakes…Rob Thomas' post-Veronica Mars movie finds he and Diane Ruggiero teaming up on an adaptation of the Vertigo comic iZombie, about a med student who has become a zombie but keeps her human side/appearance strong by eating brains. She gets a job at a morgue to give her access to her "food" and finds that by eating people's brains, she absorbs their memories, which she then uses to help her Medical Examiner boss solve their murders…Lifetime cancelled The Client List after two seasons... History has acquired the rights to Alex Haley's Roots: The Saga of An American Family as well as to the classic 12 hour mini-series that was based on it and is planning an 8 hour remake that will likely air in 2015. The 1977 ABC mini-series earned 36 Emmy nominations and set all-time ratings records, including the final installment pulling in 100 million viewers (which, at the time, was almost literally half the country)…WGN is getting into the original series game, having ordered a 13 episode first season of Salem, a historical drama focused on the Salem witch trials, and now we know that Shane West (Nikita) will play John Alden, with Janet Montgomery (Made in Jersey) as the female lead. Also in the cast are West's former Nikita co-star Xander Barkeley, Seth Gabel (Fringe), and Tamzin Merchant (The Tudors)… Fox was very happy with the World Series numbers, up 17% in total viewers from last year, with over 19 million watching the Red Sox win on Wednesday night. Overall the network's postseason coverage (ALCS & World Series) was up 26% in total viewers…Fox won a competitive situation to land Pomona Kings, a drama series spin on Romeo and Juliet set in the world of Southern California drag racing and custom car shops. The project comes from Jaime Paglia (co-creator of Eureka) and James Middleton (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)… In a brilliant casting move, the great Khandi Alexander (Treme, CSI: Miami, The Corner, ER, NewsRadio) has signed on for the recurring role of Olivia Pope's (Kerry Washington) Mom on Scandal…TTTP fave Jason O'Mara (Terra Nova, Life on Mars, The Good Wife, The Closer) will star in Complications, a USA pilot from Matt Nix (Burn Notice, The Good Guys), playing a Doctor who, after surviving a shooting, realizes he needs to take a bigger interest in the lives of his patients... Alexis Denisof (Angel, HIMYM) will co-star in Finding Carter, an MTV pilot about a teenager who discovers she was abducted from her family as a baby and now tries to get to know them. Denisof plays her Dad, a writer whose only success was a bestselling memoir about losing his daughter... Anna Gunn will guest on an episode of The Mindy Project later this season as an ob/gyn who is the focus of the title character's girl crush…Amazon is launching their new original comedies later this month, with Alpha House available on November 15th and Betas on the 22nd. The first three episodes of each will be available for free, with episodes 4 and on only for Amazon Prime subscribers. They also will differ from the Netflix formula of making the full season available at once by going with the more traditional one episode per week format…We told you a few weeks back about Syfy ordering a pilot for an adaptation of 12 Monkeys and now comes word that the two leads will be played by Aaron Stanford (Nikita) and Amanda Schull (Suits, Pretty Little Liars). Natalie Chaidez (In Plain Sight, V, Heroes, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) has come on board as the showrunner, with Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights, Awake, Caprica) directing. Stanford will play Cole, who travel back in time to current day to stop the spreading of a virus that wipes out much of the world, and Schull plays a doctor who gets caught up in his seemingly insane quest. The script was written by Travis Frickett and Terry Matalas, who worked together on Terra Nova and Nikita…
Turns Out Not Where But Who You're With That Really Matters
AKA The Best Thing I've Watched In The Last Seven Days… Saturday Night Live is off to its worst start in recent memory in terms of breakout cast members, characters, and/or genuine laughs, but Kerry Washington did a pretty decent job righting the ship last week, doing great work with the strong material and finding laughs in the weak sketches, too.
The above sketch may be my favorite since the Justin Timberlake episode aired last spring, with some great punch lines mixed into legit socio-economic observations – aka it makes you laugh while it makes you think – and reminds me of what the show can be what clicking on all cylinders.
People Say I'm Crazy Doing What I'm Doing, Well, They Give Me All Kinds Of Warnings To Save Me From Ruin
What's flashed before my eyes the last seven days…
I know Taylor Swift can be treated as a punch line for her romantic endeavors but spend 8 minutes watching the presentation/her acceptance of a CMA Pinnacle Award from last night's CMA Awards and there's no way you won't come away impressed with all she has accomplished in such a short period of time. Find all the reasons to mock her music if you want but she's an impressive young woman…I always wanted to have something in common with the Sharks on Shark Tank and at the end of Friday's episode I did - tears...Overall a great hour of television, one that had me yelling at the TV throughout; sometimes happy yells, sometimes "say yes, SAY YES!!" yells, sometimes emotional mess on the inside yells, but always fully engaged. It's simply a great show…For the second week in a row Grey's Anatomy made some very odd style choices that took away from the content of the episode; last week was the odd "wipe away screen scene transition" and this week were the bizarre music choices, where it was painfully unclear if they were going for humor as it was a Halloween episode or serious tension/drama. That aside, I do think they are doing a strong job establishing all the newer/younger characters, with Shane (Gaius Charles) and Leah (Tessa Ferrer) in particular coming into their own... Three weeks in and my love affair with @Midnight seems to know no bounds; everything about the show seems to make me laugh, even the digs at Boston last week. Right now it's 100% at the top of my Guaranteed Good Mood list…Mrs. Tivo is really the big Vampire Diaries fan in the house but I give the show credit for being perhaps the fastest paced show on TV as they always seem to have six different scenes/stories happening at once, cutting between them quickly (but not distractingly so), and even though what is being discussed is usually more than a little over the top, after 15 minutes or so you totally buy into the dramatic tension/stakes the show is going for. It doesn't hurt that everyone is ridiculously attractive, either... Another week, another charming and funny episode of The Crazy Ones, which managed to use The Bangles' Eternal Flame in a way that was both ironic and sweet. I've talked about the strength of the cast before but the one person I haven't mentioned is Amanda Setton, who was foolishly cut from The Mindy Project last year but whose comedic talents are being put to great use now; I certainly never thought she had this skill set when she was playing one of Blair's minions on Gossip Girl over the show's six season run…This week gave us very funny episode of Trophy Wife, with the added bonus of a great Nat Faxon guest spot. Also, note to writers - more Natalie Morales, please!!!... I feel like all I've done the last few weeks is bitch about HIMYM but it's amazing to me that after this many seasons, the writers could know their audience so little; the Marshall story simply hasn't worked (even though last night proved Ted's stepfather Clint is always good for a laugh), and the scrambled egg thing was just ridiculous (I am sorry but I just couldn't buy in to Robin not knowing how to scramble an egg)...It's too bad because the end should have felt like a true heart punch from Ox Baker (in a good way) and instead I was like, "ok." Seriously, if they can't get ME to cry then they clearly need to reevaluate…Very much enjoyed the premiere of Restaurant Express, if for no other reason than it was such a treat to see Robert Irvine eat food he liked for a change. It was also was nice that by the end of the hour you weren't left wondering how it was some of them made it on the show - seven of the eight brought their A game, and the one that didn't went home. There's nothing particularly original about the show but the prize is pretty damn cool - winner gets to create a restaurant at a new Vegas hotel - and as long as they stay away from the challenges and the twists being too silly (yes, I'm looking at you, Great Food Truck Race), this will be a fun seven weeks…While last Thursday's Wizard of Oz themed episode of Supernatural had a ton of highlights, the best of the best for me was when Crowley referenced the Wicked soundtrack while talking to the Dean and Sam. The highlight of this week? "Dennis DeYoung is not a punk; he's Mr. Roboto, bitch"…Easily the best Once Upon a Time of the season - especially if you include the clips for next week, which give us our first real look at what's been going on in Storybrooke this fall - as we got to see all the major players in the same hour, were introduced to a couple of characters from Disney's history (with enough references to the movie they came from to keep fans smiling all hour), had some deep dark secret sharing, and Regina finally got something to do other than to roll her eyes in the background. Good stuff and a reminder of why this is one of my favorite "watch before bed" shows…
TV Pick Of The Week
With the anniversary of the assisination of JFK almost upon us, there are documentary specials and news features all around us, and the most high profile of programming related to this important piece of US history is Killing Kennedy, a scripted drama adapted from the NY Times best selling book.
Don't miss the premiere of Killing Kennedy, Sunday at 8pm on National Geographic.
Two Tivos To Paradise 3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, @Midnight, After the Catch, American Idol, Antiques Roadshow, Archer, Arrow, Around the World in 80 Plates, Auction Hunters, Baby Daddy, Back in the Game, Boardwalk Empire, Being Human, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Burger Land, Cake Boss, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Chicago Fire, Chopped, Comic Book Men, Community, Cougar Town, Counting Cars, The Crazy Ones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Dancing with the Stars, The Deadliest Catch, Deon Cole's Black Box, Destination Truth, Fact or Faked, Falling Skies, Family Guy, Feed the Beast, Flipping Out, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Star, The Fosters, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Lab, Ghost Mine, Glee, Graceland, Great Food Truck Race, Grey's Anatomy, Haunted Collector. Haunted Highways, Haunted Treasure, Hawaii 5-0, Hollywood Treasure, Hostages, House of Lies, How I Met Your Mother, Inside Comedy with David Steinberg, Inside Amy Schumer, Iron Chef America, The Jeselnik Offensive, Justified, Key & Peele, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, The League, Longmire, Lost Girl, Louie, Mad Men, Major Crimes, Men at Work, The Michael J Fox Show, The Middle, Mike and Molly, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Monster Man, Nashville, Necessary Roughness, New Girl, The New Normal, Next Iron Chef, The Originals, Outside the Lines, Parks & Recreation, Project Runway, Psych, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook Off, Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off, Raising Hope, Ray Donovan, Real Time With Bill Maher, Rectify, Restaurant Impossible, Revenge, Revolution, Royal Pains, Rules Of Engagement, Saturday Night Live, Shark Wranglers, So You Think You Can Dance?, Sons of Anarchy, The Soup, Suits, Suburgatory, Supernatural, Top Chef, Top Chef Just Desserts, Top Chef: Masters, Tosh.0, Trophy Wife, The Vampire Diaries, The Voice, The Walking Dead, Warehouse 13, Worst Cooks In America,
People Love You When They Know You're Leaving Soon
Here ends another Two Tivos To Paradise.
We'll be back in seven days with all the latest in TV news.
Sources for this week's column include Daily Variety, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and Hollywood Reporter (plus the web sites for those publications) as well as Aintit.cool.com, TVline.com & Deadline.com.