Currently we are in the middle of a comic book TV Renaissance. Or maybe it is more of a comic book TV age of enlightenment. Look, I never really paid a lot of attention in history class, and pretty much only learned that the USA is always the good guys and German’s are the bad guys like more than half the time.
Ignoring my lack of context for which time period is most analogous to the great wealth of quality live action comic book TV shows, I think I want to push ahead and try and rank the shows that are currently on the air. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to limit it to Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Constantine, Agent Carter, and Marvel Agents of Shield (MAS). I know there are other shows that are based on comic books, but most of those are more based on independent comics that don’t have several decades of source material and fandom to draw from.
Similar to my highly viewed Breaking Bad vs. The Wire post (37 page views!!!) I thought I would come up with a bunch of near random categories and then assign points based on how the shows rank in each category. Since these are comic book TV shows, I’m going to use some fairly unique categories that wouldn’t normally apply to other TV shows, such as “Acceptance of Source Material” and “costume integration”.
I’m not doing that second one now that I think about it. That would just be dumb, and really falls under the whole source material thing. Plus Gotham and Agent Carter would be at huge disadvantages.
The Categories are:
On Going Story
Acceptance of Source Material
I’m really not that good at distinguising good acting from meh acting, but I do feel fairly confident in my ability to recognize the difference between great acting, and pretty awful acting.
2. Agent Carter
I think that most of the shows that are on this list have done a great job of casting people who synch up well with their characters. So my top rankings my be influenced more on what the writers and directors are asking the actors to do versus how good the actors actual are. Case in point, Donal Louge on Gotham is a fantastic actor who I love in just about every thing he does, but he doesn’t have to do anything as interesting as what Matt Ryan or Haley Atwell have to do on their shows.
That being said, there is one show that kind of separates itself as having some really bad acting at times. That show is Arrow. Laurel crying over her suddenly killed sister was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen, and it didn’t seem to be an outlier really. While the rest of the cast is good, especially Stephen Amell and his adjustment between bad ass post island Oliver Queen, and scared pussy on and pre island Oliver Queen, Katie Cassidy really takes me out of a lot of scenes.
On Going Story
This may also be another unfair category since some of the shows by nature have bigger stakes and therefore should have a more interesting and compelling ongoing story.
4. Agent Carter
This is a tight race at the top with both Constantine and The Flash putting in a lot of work with foreshadowing future events. The flash wins out since it involves time travel and a guy pretending to be a cripple while Constantine doesn’t have nearly enough secret rooms covered in braille.
I feel bad ranking Arrow so low and MAS so high, but if I really remove the ongoing story lines from each and analyze them in a vacuum, Arrow right now is just a story about …. what? They ditched the list thing a while ago, and now they kind of have a big bad each season, but no one that is really memorable, and the glades getting F’d over each season is getting redundant. I guess the whole Ollie becoming the Green Arrow flash back ongoing story line stuff should rank it higher, but some how there just isn’t any mystery to that any more and it seems like more of a hindrance or an obligation that it was in the past.
MAS should be way more interesting from week to week than it is since it supposedly ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe but there is just too much unknown with not enough of a tease that you need in a good mystery. Also, Gotham is just a weekly procedural. I like it, but I know what happens to Bruce and his stuff doesn’t get interesting till after college.
1. The Flash
2. Agent Carter
This is a really tough category outside of the number one spot, which I put The Flash there since it really does the villain of the week thing well. It has fun with source material by having the characters organically (kind of) name the bad guys, and the relationship drama that is such a mess on Arrow (but getting better) doesn’t drag The Flash episodes down.
MAS on the other hand is very frustrating from week to week mainly because it has so much potential and usually doesn’t deliver especially when it comes to guest spots by characters from the comic book. Still, the difference between MAS at 6 and Agent Carter at number 2 is not very big.
This is a really unfair category for a show like Gotham since it doesn’t really need special effects, so I’m going to expand this to also include stuff like the sets and lighting etc…
1. Agent Carter
3. The Flash
I rank MAS so low mostly because of how disappointed I was with the stuff they did with Dethlock. Granted, MAS has the highest hurdle to jump, with the Flash close behind, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are more times in MAS where the special effects are distracting than they are in any other show.
Agent Carter on the other hand doesn’t have a high hurdle with special effects, but when they are needed they are good, plus all of the 1940s and 50s stuff is fantastic…. as far as I know. Gotham also has a little of that going for it, but I still feel there are too many day light scenes for a show that takes place in Gotham, but they do have the look of the interiors perfect where you can’t tell what time period it is.
Acceptance of Source Material
1. The Flash
5. Agent Carter
Agent Carter and Gotham rank low on this list since they are kind of at a disadvantage since most of the characters you know and care about really won’t show up till at least a decade or two has passed. Yes there are hints here and there, and some of them even show up in younger or child like forms, but it’s not the same. Constantine also doesn’t rank high on this list since…. honestly, I don’t really know much about it. I like how they are letting John smoke now, and him wearing the brown trench coat unlike what Keanu wore in the movie is a nice touch, but I just don’t know enough about Manny or Zed or anyone else to rank it any higher.
Before The Flash, Arrow did the best job of adding in the fantastical elements of the DC comics universe, mostly through Mirakuru (or how ever you spell it). Now that The Flash has gone all in, and the Arrow has Ras Al Ghul, and are helping launch the Atom soon, you have to give those two properties the top spots.
This is a more mercurial category so it will be hard to explain why one show ranks higher than another, but I think it is kind of the heart of comic books. They are supposed to be fun. Whether it is funny, dramatic, exciting, or artistic, comic books are supposed to entertain you.
1. The Flash
3. Agent Carter
I really think listing MAS so low may just be a result of it being on hiatus for a few months now, but I think I was getting to the point where the show was becoming more of a chore than something I really enjoyed. Like I was getting through it to see what the big pay offs were, but not really that interested in the ride. Flash on the other hand is too new to be repetitive, and the same can be said about Constantine and Agent Carter. Those shows also seem to have a lot of built in humor that Arrow is lacking at times and Gotham has too little of.
Speaking of things lacking humor, I’m going to wrap this up soon since I want to watch the latest episode of Girls. Ohhhhhhhh snap. (actually it really is a good show, I just had to write that since the episode’s download literally just finished.)
hahahaha yeah I’m totally going to do it but it won’t count in the final rankings.
1. Arrow – So so so many costumes, except Wild Cat, let’s get the guy masked up.
2. The Flash – really need more than just The Flash but his is spot on
3. Agent Carter – All the 40’s outfits are costumes in their own way
4. Constantine – nice wings on Manny
5. MAS – Dethlok looked terrible
6. Gotham – no costumes…. yet??!?!?!?!
BTW I have no idea what is going on with the costume being worn by Summer Glau there, it is… just terrible. holy shit is that awful.