‘Krypton’ May Signal The Downfall of DC Comics Television

The polarization of the two elite comic franchises continue as another one bites the dust. Two days after the Krypton Season Two finale airs, SYFY announces there will not be a Season Three.

It’s not like Marvel hasn’t had issues with its television products, but at least there is hope when one of its properties fart and fall down on the job.

  • Inhumans — The Hulu product was pretty much doomed from the start with absent marketing and lackluster writing. Promising characters. Pensive production. Still, fans have hope for a comeback.
  • Legion and The Gifted — The FX and FOX respective series were not part of the MCU, nor were ever intended to be. Instead, part of the “about to be whacked” X-Men universes. That may be why we never got a chance to embrace them…yet.
  • Agent Carter was only allowed two seasons to earn an audience, but apparently, ABC didn’t have the patience — although fans did. (She still came back for a dance.)
  • And, uh, should we even talk about the Marvel Netflix Universe that still has even the most loyal of Marvel fans completely butthurt and still clamoring for #SaveDaredevil and #SaveLukeCage?! We still demand justice. (Well, I mean, they do. Yeah, that’s what I meant. Need to maintain my journalistic objectivity.)

Despite those well-publicized foibles, Marvel is still the king of the nerd mountain. Kevin Feige treated Marvel as an architect would any structure — he built the foundation first understanding all else would follow and stand taller on that solid base.

If only all blossoming cinematic universes could buy that same foundation off the rack (COUGH…DC, this is for you…COUGH), or even order it from more thoughtful geeks (COUGH…Like, pay attention to them on social media…COUGH…WB, you too, you narrow-minded nerd haters…COUGH).

That can’t — and won’t — ever happen, which makes many stans and fans of DC Comics and Warner Bros. understand they can’t really say that…and it shows.

Home Sweet Home

dc TV

If you look at the landscape from the surface, what foundation plans do you see in place with DC? Absolutely nothing, if you only look at the movies.

That’s the problem with DC fans: They forget about TV when discussing the perils and current path of their preferred comic family.

While Marvel was plotting a course for cinematic domination, DC Comics and Warner Bros. television have been quietly creating a litany of TV shows, many of which have experienced a decent run in ratings, Comic-Con attendees, and TV binging fans.

Since 2001, the DC/WB tandem has been focused on one network, the CW.

They found a solid partner — one whose oversight is a collection of original tweenage shows and some syndication. CW — formerly known as “The WB” (yes, it’s theirs) — was searching for a network partnership and they found one in DC.

Together, they have developed:

  • Smallville (2001-2011)
  • Arrow (2012-Present)
  • The Flash (2014-Present)
  • iZombie (2015-2019; Vertigo/DC Imprint)
  • Supergirl (2015-Present; Season One on CBS)
  • Legends of Tomorrow (2016-Present)
  • Black Lightning (2018-Present)
  • Batwoman (2019-Present)

Each have been decent to really good series. The jury is still out on a few but it is clear these brands have the confidence, financial support, and marketing backing of its originators.

Now, let’s examine DC television outside of the comforts of home.

Perfect Strangers

Gotham

When DC Comics took to FOX with a novel prequel series, Gotham immediately became a fan favorite. Season One had 22 episodes that averaged 7.56 million viewers. FOX knew they had a ratings monster and Batman wasn’t even discussed. According to Nielsen Media Research, there was a noticeable drop in Season Two’s average (5.37 million).

Seasons Three through Five continued to drop before arriving at a series low dropping from 4.52 million (S3), 3.69 million (S4), and finally 3.68 million (S5). A drop-off in average viewers (also known as “cume” or “cumulative average viewing/listening audience”) is expected from season to season, but when it drops that much, it usually makes a thud. A loud one. 

lucFor some reason, the FOX / DC shows didn’t carry the fanfare and dedication like they do on the Warner Bros station / CW. Is it because the brand turned a blind eye to ratings or a deaf ear to bureaucrats trying to make a comic more “fan-friendly” and “mainstream”?

Look no further than Lucifer for that answer. 

This was a Vertigo/DC imprint, but only lasted three seasons on free TV before Netflix picked it up for Season Four, before it dropped from 7.17 million average viewers to 4.16 million average viewers. Sure, the fanfare and headlines were nice when Netflix stepped in, but after the shine wore off, even Netflix decided to can it after Season Five coming later this year.

Seeing a trend yet? No? There’s more…

Enter SyFy

krypton-season-2-trailer-release-date-cast-news

Krypton was a novel concept at another prequel series in the DC family. They found a way to leverage one piece of the DC Comics’ Trinity while still enthralling the fan base with newish characters — enter Superman’s grandfather, some time travel, and a not-so-well-known dude named Adam Strange.

This series had all the makings of a long-term series — a relatively unknown Cameron Cuffe who obviously dipped his toe in Lake Huge Nerd, a solid accompanying cast (e.g., Georgina Campbell, Ann Ogborno, Aaron Pierre, Wallis Day), serious commitment to the villains (e.g., Voice of Rao, Brainiac, General Zod, Jax-Ur, Doomsday), David Goyer (writer of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) produces the thing, and already planning the spin-off with Lobo the Bounty Hunter.

Seriously?! It’s only Season Two and this thing had all the mojo. Only one thing…it was on Syfy. As we have pointed out, when DC shows aren’t on a Warner network, things don’t end up so well.

So…Season Two ended (with a pretty spectacular splash) and two days later, Syfy gave the show some Kryptonite right up its super stinkwhistle. According to the THR report:

The show, which was produced by an outside studio — Warner Horizon — was unable to cut through and find an audience. Wednesday’s finale drew just 350,000 same-day viewers, with season two averaging a total of only 408,000. That’s down considerably from the 1.8 million viewers (with three days of DVR) from season one.

Yes, that is a tumultuous drop but someone could have caught that thing. Even some of the most hyped TV series had an off season, right? (Friends, TrueBlood, The ’70s Show, The Office…we’re looking at you.) 

Some series had followings that were challenged with its commitment. Others have been taken from mainstream TV and got purchased from a streaming giant. And then there are the few that found light with a refresh…like maybe a spin-off?! Back to the article:

Additionally, the DC Entertainment-produced spinoff Lobo has also been passed over at Syfy. Producers Warner Horizon will shop the project about the comic book character — played by Emmett J. Scanlan — to other outlets. Lobo was introduced and Scanlan recurred during season two of Krypton. The spinoff is overseen by Krypton showrunner Cameron Welsh. 

Among all the remakes in the nerdverse, this was a novel concept and it’s a real shame Krypton wasn’t given a real chance to succeed. Get this on CW and watch full story arcs happen with all those heroes and villains. If not CW, there are other opportunities.

If Not There, Where?

cancelled

The aforementioned “outside studio” — Warner Horizon — is shopping Lobo but they are also offering Krypton to the highest bidder. Note the first word there: Warner. 

You see, there is this Disney conglomerate that owns a myriad of sources where they can position anything they own, so Warner Bros. needs to think of their own platform owner: WarnerMedia.

Disney is huge, but so is AT&T, which owns Warner Bros., Turner Broadcasting, and HBO (which is unveiling HBOMax…). Warner, along with many channels, does have options to give Krypton and Lobo a second chance, like the Justice League gave Supes…but I digress.

Yeah, yeah…The DC Universe…um, do we really have faith in that network? They canceled Swamp Thing! The same show developed by James “Savior of DC Comics on Film” Wan. And they canceled that show!? 

Please!

For anyone who wants Krypton and Lobo to have a second chance on a second network, do you really want The DC Universe to put its mitts on those gems? David Goyer needs to find another “Warner” network and breathe real life into this thing so it can regain the 1.5 million nerds it lost. Shoot, Gotham could go there too.

Since Disney has Hulu, maybe Warner can cozy up to Netflix? Stranger things have happened. (See what I did there? Hopefully, Warner will too.)

 

 

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