Everyone knows that superheroes are larger than life. Maybe that's why they have trouble fitting on the small screen.
Marvel's Avengers spin-off series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., exploded out of the gate with huge ratings when it debuted last month. But the numbers have dropped with each passing week, and the reaction from Marvel fans seems to range from "meh" to outright disdain.
The show is a bit silly and nonsensical, too self-aware yet not funny enough to justify that self-awareness. Which isn't to say it's a completely bad - there's action and gadgets and the odd joke that works, plus cute girls and handsome boys and mysterious character backstories that get revealed bit by bit each week.
But it doesn't feel like superhero TV. It feels like network executives desperate to cash in on the billions being made by The Avengers, the Dark Knight Trilogy and the rest of the superhero movie milieu.
And frankly, they're doing it wrong. Or at least they're doing it for the wrong reasons.
The day Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered, Fox announced it had acquired the rights to Gotham, an upcoming TV series based on Batman's ally James Gordon, long before he was police commissioner. In fact, long before he ever met the Dark Knight.
So it's going to be a Batman series without Batman. But apparently with a host of recognizable DC comics villains in their pre-infamy days. Because after Heath Ledger's defining cinematic performance as the Joker, what we really need is a young, TV-friendly version of the clown prince of crime, right? Ugh.
I'd love to be proven wrong on this, but I can't see how Gotham will work. If the Joss Whedon-powered Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is alienating fans and shedding viewers, what hope is there for a Batman series that can't plug into any of the present-day movie mythology?
And now Warner Bros. has said they're anxious to get Wonder Woman off the page and on the screen. A Wonder Woman movie makes some sense - while Marvel is already making movies about virtually unknown heroes like Ant-Man, DC still hasn't put one of their holy trinity into a film - but the awful David E. Kelly-directed Wonder Woman TV pilot that NBC rejected in 2011 should be a sign that a Wonder Woman series is simply a bad idea. (No disrespect to Lynda Carter. But that was a different time with different sensibilities.)
It seems the formula for doing good - or at least successful - superhero TV is to leave out the actual superheroes as much as possible, and aim for a younger-skewing audience. Smallville lasted 10 seasons because it was less about Superman - hell, Clark Kent didn't even fly until Season 8 - and more about a young man and his friends trying to sort out their lives in a complicated world. The CW's follow-up Arrow, starring Canada's Stephen Amell as the not-so jolly green archer, also knows its demographic and hits it like a bullseye, and the upcoming spin-off Flash will probably do the same.
Which isn't to say these shows represent what superhero TV could be or should be. But so far the formula is so elusive that not even S.H.I.E.L.D.'s best agents can crack it.
ON THE RADAR
He may be 71 years old, but Harrison Ford sure hasn't lost his interest in sci-fi. He stars in next month's Ender's Game, will be appearing in Star Wars: Episode VII and has even been talking to director Ridley Scott about Blade Runner 2.
Long road to Grayskull
Columbia Pictures has commissioned a new script for the upcoming Masters of the Universe movie, this time from the writer who penned some of the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks and The Lone Ranger. Maybe Harrison Ford can play He-Man?
Little man, big laughs
Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, who will also appear in next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past, will play a man who claims to be an honest-to-goodness leprechaun in an as yet-untitled R-rated comedy due to begin shooting soon.
Bloody good marketing
The upcoming remake of Carrie got a huge buzz boost this week thanks to a hidden camera prank video, in which startled patrons at a NYC coffee shop thought they were seeing a girl with telekinetic powers go nuts. See it at bit.ly/carriecoffee.
If the kids are especially quiet this week, it's probably because they've got their noses buried in the Nintendo 3DS games Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, the newest additions to the pocket monster empire.
Are you watching the new Showtime drama Masters of Sex, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as sex researchers Masters and Johnson? Well, you should be. It's smart, funny, sexy TV.
While it hasn't been cancelled as of this writing, things are looking very grim for NBC's reboot of Ironside, starring Blair Underwood. If you've got this ratings disaster in your TV dead pool, you're in good shape.
Stone cold criticism
Breaking Bad is done, but some people are still bagging on the ending. Including none other than director Oliver Stone, who ripped the finale's "fantasy violence" and how said violence is "infecting the American culture." Um, irony alert?
You know your show sucks when...
Murder Police, an upcoming animated series with the voices of Jane Lynch (Glee) and Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show), has been axed by Fox before a single episode aired.