Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Comic books on TV: Has fatigue set in?

The broadcast networks are presenting their fall schedules this week. By the end of the week, we'll know if CW, the current "superhero network", will stock their extended schedule (going from 5 nights to 6) with mid-season shows like Black Lightning (which ended season 1 last month) and iZombie (which finishes its 4th season on Memorial Day). In the meantime, it looks like Disney-owned ABC may be phasing out of the game.

Word came down today that Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, which wraps season 5 on Friday, will return for a 6th season-----in the summer of 2019. Declining ratings, likely coupled with the prospect of viewer fatigue among comics fans, contributed to the network's decision to delay the start of season 5, but Inhumans, despite the series premiere being released to IMAX theatres ahead of its broadcast premiere (a tactic that hadn't been used since Buck Rogers in The 25th Century in 1979, and back then, there was no such thing as IMAX), was, for all intents & purposes, dead on arrival. ABC made it official by outright cancelling the series, several months after viewers had already reached that conclusion.

Aside from Fox's The Gifted, which moves to Tuesdays this fall (more on that shortly), Marvel is ceding broadcast television to the CW. Marvel still has a presence on cable, as Legion, like Gifted a product of the X-Men line of books, is in its 2nd season on FX, or is wrapping up, and Disney-owned Freeform (formerly ABC Family) enters the fray June 7 with Cloak & Dagger, a pair of teenagers with odd powers who emerged in the 80's. Online, Marvel has Runaways, which reportedly has been renewed for a 2nd season on Hulu, and their Netflix family of series (Jessica Jones has been renewed for season 3, Luke Cage begins season 2 next month, and you'll have to wait a while for Daredevil & The Punisher).

DC, meanwhile, is moving into the online arena with their new DC Universe streaming service, which will include revivals of Swamp Thing and the animated Young Justice, and new shows such as Titans (which corporate cousin TNT passed on), Harley Quinn (a spin-off from "Suicide Squad" in animated form, bringing Harley full circle), and, as reported yesterday over at Saturday Morning Archives, Doom Patrol, which figures to be spun off from Titans. DC Universe is ticketed to launch their 1st run product next year, but fans are already calling for Lucifer, just cancelled by Fox after 3 seasons, to move there.

Fox also renewed Gotham for season 5, but it will be a mid-season replacement, and the series will end with that 5th season, which, if you believe the producers, was the plan all along.

Meanwhile, at the CW, they may as well offer stock to producer Greg Berlanti, who will contribute to the DCU service as one of the producers of Titans & Doom Patrol, as well as Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, to go along with entries for Lifetime, NBC, and a pair of frosh for CBS, including the fantasy dramedy, God Friended Me. As of right now, if the current schedule remains in place, aside from a Sunday lineup to be announced later this week, it looks like The Flash will air opposite The Gifted. The Fox series just can't get a break, as it was airing opposite Supergirl this season.

As of right now, this is what it could look like come the fall. Remember, CW launches their season in October, so Fox will get a head start on Tuesdays before the World Series:

Mondays: Supergirl (CW).
Tuesdays: The Flash (CW), The Gifted (Fox).
Wednesdays: Riverdale (CW).
Thursdays: Arrow (CW).

Airdates TBA (all on CW): Legends of Tomorrow, iZombie, Black Lightning.

Would CW be willing to checkerboard their entire 6 night string (Sunday-Friday)? We'll know in a couple of days.

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