Growing up, reading comics, I never even entertained the thought that one day superheroes would not only rule the cinema but a time would come when there were FIVE live-action comic book serials on television in the same week.
The underrated Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
(Channel 4) and the ever-popular Arrow
(Sky One) are already old friends. The second season S.H.I.E.L.D.
kicked off last week and the third season of Arrow
begins on Thursday.
Spinning out of Arrow
we have The Flash
(Sky One), which begins tonight. However, thanks to Sky's wonderful marketing ploy of releasing occasional pilots a week or so early - to generate word-of-mouth - I've already watched the first episode twice. This won't stop me from tuning in again though this evening.
While the Fantastic Four are my all-time favourite superhero team, I never wanted to "be" any particular member of Marvel's First Family, but ever since I saw my first issue of the Flash of the age of about seven or eight, I wanted to be him. There's a reason I have so many Flash T-shirts and a Flash hoodie!
The other day, Rachel was driving me into Tunbridge Wells and there was a giant poster advertising The Flash
on the side of the town centre bus station and inside me there was an eight-year-old geek whose head was exploding.
Last night I also discovered that Constantine
has been picked up by Amazon Prime Streaming and the first episode is already available.
There was no fanfare or big announcement though, I only found this out from a random TV blog I follow. Unfortunately - unlike Netflix - Amazon Prime has a really cack user interface and new arrivals like this aren't instantly obvious. I only found it by searching for it!
But it's there, folks. If you are in the UK and have the Amazon Prime streaming service, there are worse ways to spend 44 minutes than in the company of DC Comic's dishevelled occultist John Constantine. As a pilot episode it crams a helluva lot of character, story and action into its three-quarters of an hour, complemented by superb - and often creepy - special effects.
) absent from our screens, Constantine
glides perfectly into the contemporary urban horror hole that has been left - with the added bonus of comic book Easter Eggs. Even though it had already been leaked months ago, I still squeed at the sight of Dr Fate's helmet!
The final comic book show on at the moment (although more are being talked about all the time now, with Daredevil kicking off Netflix's slate of street-level Marvel shows early next year
) is Gotham
(Channel 5) on Monday nights, which, unfortunately, is the weakest of the bunch.
It is the story of young detective Jim Gordon, set against a tableau of police corruption and feuding mob bosses in pre-Batman Gotham City - and when it concentrates on that, it isn't half-bad.
But, while the first episode involved the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents (the inciting incident that would eventually drive him to become The Batman
), the show keeps returning every episode to 10-year-old Bruce - even though he has no involvement in the main story.
I'll be honest, I couldn't care less about young Master Bruce at this stage. Unless Alfred is going to stitch him a child-sized Batman costume so he can fight crime I'd rather not see him again until he returns to the city in ten or so years as The Dark Knight. Time spent with Bruce and Alfred is wasted time that could been devoted to developing the week's main story and the characters of Gordon, Bullock and co.
The prospect of a gritty police procedural - with a grimy '70s New York City feel to it - dealing with early costumed criminals is quite enticing on paper, but Gotham
seems unsure of its tone and has that hideous prequelitis symptom of the constant "oh, so clever" nods to its future mythology (the most grating being the couple of appearances by forensic scientist Edward Nygma - the future Riddler - who phrases all his revelations as contorted questions
Then again, it took me a couple of attempts to 'get' Arrow
- and I'm still not a fan of the flashbacks - so I won't be abandoning Gotham
any time soon (it's still far better than Smallville, for all its faults