Monday, October 7, 2013

Super Shows

Unless you're one of the 5 million or so American households that get all of their TV fixin's over the Internet via Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or whatever, then you still watch TV the old fashioned way: with a DVR. If you're anything like me, there are two ways TV shows end up on your DVR: purposefully or randomly. The purposefully-recorded shows you heard about either through word-of-mouth, reviews online, or commercials, and set your DVR to record accordingly. The randomly-recorded shows get thrown up there as you (mostly drunkenly) go through your Guide and pick and choose shows you've either heard about and been meaning to watch or just because they look interesting. That's how I do it, anyway....

I am here to help turn your random shows into purposeful ones. The following is a list of comic book-related TV shows that you should immediately program into your DVR. They are ranked by order of awesomeness, and include channel and time (EST; for those poor souls without a DVR), and a brief review.

(AMC, Sundays at 9pm - Season 4 starts October 13)

The Walking Dead: The greatest show on television, ever! (And, yes, I say that in the face of Game of ThronesTrue Blood, and even Breaking Bad.) I first discovered this show before I even knew it was based on a comic, when, in 2011, I found the first season lying on a random bookshelf and borrowed it. I've been hooked ever since! The Walking Dead takes character development to a whole new level. The show would be great even without the zombies. If you can handle the violence, and you like entertainment, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not watching this show. I also really enjoy Chris Hardwick's Talking Dead immediately after the show. That comic relief right afterwards really helps my brain get over the traumatic brutality I just witnessed.

(ABC, Tuesdays at 8pm - Season 1 on air now)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I was super excited for the first episode, and the whole thing seemed to buzz out of my TV and fill my living room with waves of excitement. Anything Joss Whedon touches is gold in my eyes, and letting him continue his Marvel Universe from the movies is awesome! Unfortunately, the second episode didn't really keep this same level of quality and quickly degraded into a random and pointless adventure into a cave in the Peruvian jungle... but, the Nick Fury cameo at the end saved it! Hopefully, they'll work the kinks out, and this show will live up to its potential.

(CW, reruns Weekdays at 5:30pm)

Batman: The Animated Series: This show is widely known as the greatest cartoon ever. I'm not sure I completely agree with that, especially when considering other great cartoons like X-Men: The Animated Series, Avatar, or any number of anime; but it is definitely one of the greats. Similar to Justice League Unlimited, the show sacrifices opportunities for action and slows the pace down to focus more on Batman's brooding detective skills, but the slowness is easily overlooked. The thing I love most about this show is how, much like other Batman films and TV shows, it is part of the official Batman canon, to the point where characters created specifically for the show (i.e., Harley Quinn) are now common appearances in the DC Universe.

(AMC, Sundays at 12am - Season 3 starts October 13)

Comic Book Men: I watched the first season on Netflix almost immediately after I decided to get back into this comic book thing. Hilarious! I love anything Kevin Smith does, and this show is no exception. Watching those dudes sit around their comic shop, talk comics, and make fun of customers is one of the motivating factors for me. I want to be just like that! How perfect a job would that be?

 (CW, reruns Saturdays at 9:30am)

Justice League Unlimited: This is a great cartoon. It does almost everything right, and delivers almost everything you could want out of a super hero show. The stories are intricate and complex, the villains and adventures are interesting, and the animation is solid. The one and only negative point about Justice League Unlimited is the pace--many times, I'll catch myself nodding off because it's so darned slow. They take their time developing story, which is a good thing... but it comes with a sacrifice to action.

(Disney XD, Sunday mornings - Season 2 on air now) 

Ultimate Spider-Man: I am lovin' this cartoon! But it is not for everyone. There is a lot of Spidey pausing the show to quip to the audience, and many other juvenile tactics. You can tell the target audience is boys aged 9 to 14 (as with the rest of the shows on Disney XD). The childishness gets on many people's nerves, but I find it highly entertaining!

(Disney XD, Sunday mornings - Season 1 on air now)

Avengers Assemble: The last Avenger's cartoon (Earth's Mightiest Heroes) was canceled to make room for this one, so as to jive better with the summer's wildly successful Avengers movie. While this latest rendition isn't quite as good as the last one, Avengers Assemble is still a pretty entertaining show. Unfortunately, much of the storytelling is sacrificed for the sake of action, but this isn't always necessarily a bad thing. If you like Ultimate Spider-Man, you'll love Avengers Assemble.

(Disney XD, Sunday mornings - Season 1 on air now)

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: They take everything good about Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble and make it better. The way they use frames to make the show look like it's jumping straight out of a comic book and onto the TV is brilliant. Also, while the stories are watered down and kid-friendly, they are still very entertaining.

(CW, reruns Saturdays at 9am)

The Spectacular Spider-Man: Most serious Spider-Man fans rate The Spectacular Spider-Man above the newer Ultimate Spider-Man and the '90s' Spider-Man: The Animated Series. I disagree. Spectacular Spider-Man is good fun; it is mature, and true to the comics. I think my major beef with it is I can't get over the animation style. The weirdly shaped and proportioned pupils in everyone's eyes just throws the whole show off for me. Regardless, I appreciate the show for what it's worth, and would highly recommend watching it, especially if the childish antics of Ultimate Spider-Man aren't for you.

 (CW, Wednesdays at 8 - Season 2 starts October 9)

Arrow: I've still got like six or seven episodes from the first season on my DVR. It's kind of interesting, but super slow. Being on the CW is really hurting the show, as they just can't seem to get over that thing the CW does where they get handsome white people with strong jawlines to stare uncomfortably at each other. I am looking forward to the Flash spin-off, if that ever happens!

(Cartoon Network, Saturdays at 10am - Season 1 on air now)

Beware the Batman: Even though it is a blatant ripoff of Marvel's Universe on Disney XD, I appreciate what DC is trying to do with their "DC Nation" on Cartoon Network. Beware the Batman has an interesting take on the classic Batman characters, as exemplified by the younger, fitter, Sean Connery-esque take on Alfred. I love the villain Anarky, and I'm looking forward to see what they're going to do with R'as al Ghul. The animation is terrible, however. It looks like something quickly and cheaply thrown together using an off-the-shelf CG program.

 (Hub, reruns Sundays 8-11pm)

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman: I remember watching this show when I was younger, and it was mostly a sappy love story. Luckily, it stars Superman and Lois Lane! I only recently stumbled across this one in the Guide, and I'm looking forward to watching it with my grown-up eyeballs.

(Boomerang, reruns periodically)

Teen Titans: I can't hate on a show that's all about fighting for "truth, justice, and a slice of pizza". These shows are really hit or miss. Some of the earlier ones are ridiculous and a little funny, while some of the later ones get a bit darker and more serious. It's not my favorite comic book show, but I don't hate it, either.

(Cartoon Network, Weekdays at 7:30pm - Season 1 on air now)

Teen Titans Go!: Less a show about superheroes, and more your typical brightly-colored, thickly-outlined cartoon for kids under 8 (think Powerpuff Girls/Dexter's Laboratory meets Adventure Time/Phineas and Ferb). Still, some of the antics the Teen Titans get into are pretty funny. Each episode is only about 12 minutes long, and I usually chuckle once or twice. Also, it is a great introduction to the DC Universe for kids. My 5-year old son can now recognized Cyborg and Beast Boy anywhere.

(Hub, reruns periodically) 

The Super Hero Squad Show: Where Teen Titans Go! introduces DC to kids, The Super Hero Squad Show does an even better job tossing kids into the Marvel Universe. If you can get over the squished look of the characters and the annoying voices, the show may be worth watching for the sheer magnitude of Marvel characters in it. Also, Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet is the primary plot device, and Marvel in the Cosmos is one of my favorite elements in all of comics, so that's pretty cool.

There! Now your DVR is filled with Super Shows, on purpose. You're welcome. And if there are any I missed, please let me know!