Sunday, 19 June 2016

Live-action TV super-hero shows - the best and worst!

As I rampage around the streets of Sheffield, throwing cars at people and bending street lamps, I often tell them, "I told you you wouldn't like me when I'm angry!" and they reply, "So what? We never liked you when you weren't angry."

And that raises the subject of the Hulk.

And that raises the subject of his TV show.

And that raises the subject of other live-action super-hero TV shows.

Despite the oft-impracticality of such a venture, many of our comic book favourites have transitioned to the small screen. But whose show was best?

The first super-hero show I ever saw was Adam West's Batman which, at the age of four, I totally failed to realise was a comedy and was therefore gripped by.

In the 1970s, I was never a huge admirer of the Hulk show, as he wasn't anything like as dramatic as the comic book version and he never spoke.

I remember vaguely enjoying the Mark Hammond Spider-Man show, mostly because of its sheer hopelessness but I haven't seen it since it was first broadcast and so cannot say if I'd still find it as endearing as I did back then.

Having recently re-watched several of the old Lynda Carter Wonder Woman episodes, I can only describe it as amiable and harmless.

Maybe there's something wrong with my memory but I can't recall any 1980s super-hero shows at all.

In the 1990s, there was the Dean Cain/Teri Hatcher Superman show which, for some reason, when I first blundered across it, whilst zapping through the channels, I thought was Mexican. I was intrigued by the idea of a Mexican Superman show and thus kept watching. I seem to remember finding it charming but couldn't understand why Superman always used to stand there smirking like a wally whenever confronted by bad guys, thus giving them the chance to use their latest deadly weapon on him.

Smallville never grabbed me at all and I can remember barely anything about it.

I remember Channel 5 showing the Justice League TV movie from time-to-time. From my bargings around on the internet, I gather that everyone else hated it but, possibly because I had no emotional investment in the original comic, I enjoyed it greatly.

I also enjoyed the David Hasselhoff Nick Fury TV movie. I don't know if there's something wrong with me but I thought he was well-cast in the part and it seemed like good fun at the time.

I have some vague idea that there was once a Flash TV show but know nothing of it.

I haven't seen Gotham. I keep seeing it in the listings but I get the feeling it doesn't feature Batman, so I've not been tempted.

I managed to make myself watch the first two series of Agents of SHIELD but finally gave in to apathy after the first episode of the third season and haven't seen it since. Clearly, it needs a good injection of the Hoff to get it going.

I've seen bits of the Supergirl show and it seems pleasant enough but I haven't quite managed to make an effort to see more than bits of it.

I've seen no sign at all of the Daredevil show, nor the Green Arrow one.

So there you have it, my thoughts on TV super-hero shows. It should be blatantly obvious that, when it comes to anything made after the mid 1990s, ignorance is my watchword. But what about you? Do have any favourites and do you have any that you can't bear to be exposed to? If so, here's where you can make your voice heard.

Speaking of making your voice heard, don't forget to vote in the Barbarism poll to the right of this post. Remember; the lives of Nemedian Slime-Dwellers could depend on it.


dangermash said...

The 1960s Batman wins it for me. I can't imagine anyone in Agents Of Shield getting away with a line like "Felix, you may brush my pussywillow."

I've seen a couple of Incredible Hulk repeats on The Horror Channel recently and actually think they hold up pretty well.

And I've come to the conclusion that Agents Of Shield is a hospital drama in disguise. Characters that wouldn't look out of place if you put them in hospital gear and plopped then into the middle of Holby City with no memories of their previous existence. Like Don Blake.

Aggy said...

90s Flash can best be described as very 90s. The best episodes are the 2 with the Trickster. Mark Hamill in full overacting brilliance.

Not sure it ever got any UK showing but Birds of Prey is worth tracking down. Good cast. Worth checking out on Youtube or importing the DVDs.

Recently picked up the Captain America 3 movie pack. Which includes both 70s films and the Marc Salinger 1990 version. None of them hold up but the 70s ones have a charm.

I think the 90s where dominated by the Animated series. Both Batman and Xmen are worth finding (Random Xmen discs sometimes appear in places like Poundland or The Works)

Teri Hatcher was a Goddess in The adventures of Lois and Clark and was an easy choice over Baywatch on the other side.

Agents of Shield was ruined by a 1st season treading water waiting for the next Cap film. And since then has really failed to be a Shield series in all but name (Hail Hydra). Strip out everything but Clark Gregg. Reform a proper Shield and go for a Man from Uncle feel. At least next year should bring LMDs.

Agent Carter was great in its 1st series. But the second just seemed to exist to fill gaps in the Shield Story arc. Hailey Atwell deserved better.

The current DC series are pretty OK. Flash is probably the best. Although Legends of Tomorrow seems to promise a JSA in series 2.

If you look around file sharing sites the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman and Roger Corman Fantastic Four can be found. Both worth a watch in the same way the Star Wars Holiday Special is.

Other comic related properties worth finding? The Filmation Flash Gordon series. Loses its way in season 2 but Season 1 is worth splash a few quid for on Amazon.

Also Youtube the various theme tunes from 90s animated shows that went no where like New Muta... I mean Youndblood. Ultraforce. Wildcats.

Anonymous said...

I think Daredevil is on Netflix or something like that, so I don't get it, but I have seen scenes from it on You-tube and it's really not too bad. James D'onofrio plays the Kinpin, and that's interesting.
Worth a look if you're bored.

TC said...

I must admit, when I was seven or eight, I had no idea that the Batman TV series was a comedy. Neither did my classmates, AFAIR. To us, it seemed just as dramatic as Gunsmoke or Dragnet. It wasn't until years later, watching reruns, that I caught the campy jokes that had gone over my head the first time around.

The fifties were (barely) before my time, but I did see the Superman TV show, starring George Reeves, in reruns sometime around 1970. It was a reasonably faithful adaptation of the 1950's DC comics. Its last season/series was more tongue-in-cheek than the previous ones, although it never got as self-consciously campy as Batman.

Wonder Woman was fun, the kind of show where you could turn off your brain when you turned on the TV. It was campy, but didn't lay it on as thick as Batman.

The Flash premiered sometime around 1990, IIRC. It starred John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen. It seemed to be emulating the Batman movie, with a semi-grimdark tone, rather than adapting the Silver Age DC comics.

The Hulk was not a bad show, judged on its own merits, but it was, IMHO, a little too reminiscent of The Fugitive. And fans of the comics may have been disappointed and annoyed by the changes.

There were a couple of Hulk TV movies ca. 1990 with Bixby and Ferrigno, including one with Rex Smith as Daredevil, and one with (IIRC) Eric Kramer as Thor. They were obviously pilots for spin-off series that didn't sell.

After seeing David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury, Lewis Van Bergen as Jon Sable, Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy, and George Clooney and Ben Affleck as Batman, we can all look forward to Hollywood's next masterpieces: Woody Allen as the Terminator, Rita Rudner as Xena, Tina Fey as Lara Croft, Richard Simmons as Tarzan, Paul Reubens as Conan the Barbarian, Tim Westwood as James Bond, and Boy George as Judge Dredd.

hobbyfan said...

Daredevil is on Netflix, Steve. My bro & I don't binge. We watch 2 episodes every couple of weeks. Did the same with Jessica Jones.

FWIW, it was Nicholas Hammond who played Spider-Man.

Steve W. said...

Thanks to you all for the info about the various shows.

Hobbyfan, you're right. Sadly, I always get Nicolas Hammond mixed up with Mark Hamill and Mark Harmon, hence the slip.

Colin Jones said...

I was really looking forward to the new Hulk TV show and then I saw it...he was so obviously a man painted green wearing a wig (but I don't know what else I was expecting), he couldn't speak, he was called David Banner rather than Bruce and there were no other Marvel characters. And of course I remember Batman and Wonder Woman but I never saw the Spider-Man TV series - the pilot episode and another episode (I think) were jammed together and released in cinemas as "Spider-Man The Movie" which I saw around Easter 1978. It was only a couple of years ago that I discovered the Spider-Man TV series had even been shown in the UK, it definitely wasn't broadcast in my area.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I realized the Batman T.V. show was meant as a comedy until decades later when I was about thirty-six, and some girl explained it to me when I was getting drunk in a bar.
Like my father always said when I was little, "Not too sharp but he means well."

Anonymous said...

Marc Salinger? James D'onofrio? Who are these people?

Phil said...

My favorite was John Wesley Shipp's Flash followed by the 50s Superman. Adam West's Batman was great fun but wore out after a while. Wonder Woman was worth watching only for Lynda Carter.
Smallville was embarrassed to be a show about superheroes so I gave it the respect it gave me.
Hulk eh. It was good drama but it wasn't our Hulk.
Green Hornet was pretty good I mean Bruce Lee!
Agents of Shield..Egad. What can one say. It's awful. A show about comic books and super heroes where super heroes are all villains or suspected villains. What a great way to celebrate comic book heroes, let's make them all bad guys! Plus the acting ... It's the Skye show. Fortunately her acting is getting better but season one she was bad.
I get the most fun watching George Reeves crash through walls and jumping out windows. He enjoyed bashing walls down and it shows. His Clark and Superman were the gold standard for me, when he looked at the camera and winked, what can you say. This is the Superman I can believe in not mr mopey from the new movie.

Warren JB said...

This reads like my experiences of superhero TV shows (smirking wally, heh), except:

I never saw the Wonder Woman show and this is the first I've heard of a 90s Flash.

I was bored of Agents of Shield after I saw the first trailer for it. I did try watching the first episode of season three or something, but Dangermash is absolutely right - it's more like a hospital drama, with creatures and effects somehow worse than the 90s Star Trek shows.

I'm with Aggy: the 90s animated shows were my thing. So much so that I'm disappointed in the swelling, 'inspirational' soundtracks of the recent Spider-Man films, 'cos I think the vaguely rock/metal intro to the 90s cartoon fits Spidey better.

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