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DC Entertainment: The superhero of television

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MUMBAI: Long before she became famous as Susan Meyer of Desperate Housewives, Teri Hatcher played Louis Lane in the cult 90’s series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. This was one of the first few series produced in association with DC Comics after Superboy (1988 – 1992).  

It ran from 1993 to 1997 and soon afterwards was on Star World India during the late 90s.

In 2001, Tom Welling, with the blessing of the original Superman, Christopher Reeve, donned the superhero's cape in Warner Bros’ (WB) original production, Smallville that won both critical acclaim and commercial success.

It enjoyed an average viewership of 8.7 million and WB's second-best 18-49 adult rating ever, according to Media Life Magazine. 

The series follows the adventures of Clark Kent right from his pre-Superman days in the fictional town of Smallville in Kansas to his career at the Daily Planet while introducing other DC comics superheroes and villains.

As earlier reported by indiantelevision.com, Smallville was aired in India on Star World with the first few seasons on Wednesday nights at 8 pm, later moving to Saturdays at 7 pm before being pulled off air.

In an earlier interview with the website, Star English Entertainment business head, Kevin Vaz had reasoned, “Since moving Smallville to Saturdays, we weren’t receiving as much traction from the audience as we did during its initial run on Wednesday nights, and there was also new content then which received good response from the audience. Ergo, we had to discontinue airing the new seasons of the series.” 

Smallville was a milestone in the journey of DC Comics' Entertainment, which created a niche for itself in the global television market with the series. 

Buoyed by its success, DC followed suit with Human Target, which however, failed to get the viewership it deserved and was hence taken off schedule and eventually cancelled. All the same, the series did air in its entirety on Warner Bros’ Indian channel, WB India.

DC's TV endeavours post Human Target have met with much greater success.

In 2012, The CW, formed as a result of the merger between WB and Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), ordered its first drama series based on a DC Comics character Green Arrow

Arrow revolves round billionaire playboy Oliver Queen, portrayed by Stephen Amell (Dante’s Cove, New Girl), who, after five years of being stranded on a hostile island, returns home to fight crime and corruption as a secret vigilante with a bow and arrow as his ammo of choice. As the series develops, more characters from DC Comics were introduced like Black Canary and The Flash.

Coming to 2014, DC Entertainment has five new properties currently in production with various broadcast and cable networks. 

Arrow, the CW Original series has made way for The Flash, an upcoming American television series developed by the writers and executive producers of Arrow. It will be based on the DC Comics character Flash reprised by Barry Allen, a Central City assistant police forensic investigator who by virtue of being caught in a chemical explosion, gets the power of superhuman speed. 

The second new property is Gotham, an upcoming television series by Bruno Heller, creator of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-nominated series Rome and The Mentalist. As the title suggests, Gotham is based on the DC Comics characters Detective James Gordon and Bruce Wayne created by Bob Kane and sundry other characters in the Batman franchise. Interestingly, the series will go into the origins of iconic villains like the Penguin, the Riddler, Cat woman, Two-Face, the Joker, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow. According to inside sources, both The Flash and Gotham might premiere on Star World Premiere HD.

The third newbie is Vertigo, based on an imprint of DC Comics originally created to do stories that could not meet the stringent guidelines of the Comics Code Authority. 

NBC's upcoming supernatural series Constantine is based on DC Comics' wildly popular series Hellblazer which revolves round seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult, John Constantine, who specializes in “giving hell... hell”. 

Given the number of Warner Bros Television and DC Comics properties acquired by Indian broadcasters in the past, one can expect Constantine to end up airing on Star World, Zee Cafe or AXN.

The CW's upcoming drama series iZombie is loosely based on the series created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred and published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint. 

iZombie, developed by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, revolves round a medical student who becomes a zombie, and joins a Coroner's Office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat so that she can maintain her humanity. For every brain she eats though, she also inherits its memories and must now solve the deaths of these persons with help from the Medical examiner and a police detective.

Also, American Movie Classics (AMC) Network - home to Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning drama series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad - in association with Sony Television, will soon bring to the small screen the satirical and supernatural comic series, Preacher, with comedy writers/actors Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Superbad) and Evan Goldberg (Neighbours, This is the End) spearheading the project for the cable network. 

Preacher follows hardened Reverend Jesse Custer. Accompanied by his ex-girlfriend and a vampire named Cassidy, he searches for God after finding out he has left heaven. The series' antagonist is Saint of Killers, a Western lone gunman type, hell-bent on killing Jesse.

Since iZombie will air midseason next year and Preacher is still in development, it is too early to speculate on which Indian broadcaster will air these adaptations.

While the past decade has seen a slew of movies (The Dark Knight trilogy, Green Lantern, Superman: Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice) based on a wealth of characters from DC Comics, perhaps it's time television followed suit as well!

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