The Hourman Television Hour?! Who's Next?!

By now, I imagine you've heard that of all DC properties, HOURMAN has been selected to go into television development at the CW. Surprised? It's a bit early to call it, but from the news items about the proposed show, they might be missing the boat. Rex Tyler was a down-to-earth hero who boosted his natural abilities one hour at a time with the Miraclo drug, and sounds perfect for a gritty, suspenseful action thriller à la "24", with a protagonist struggling with drug addiction. Now though Rex (if that identity remains unchanged) will still be a "brilliant-yet-troubled pharmaceutical analyst" (so this element might still be in play), he also "discovers that the visions that have plagued him since childhood are actually glimpses of tragic events occurring one hour in the future", which sounds like a ton of other shows in which crimefighters have some uncanny ability or other, often a kind of super-guesswork or outright prophecy (including Heroes). It's the one element that makes me go "meh" though the rest could work.

But Hourman?!! Well, yes. I think it makes more sense for low-powered premise to get the television treatment, leaving the big guns for summer blockbuster spectaculars. DC should be developing MORE properties like this (the recent Human Target series is one example, the Young Commissioner Gordon in the works is another, Hellblazer a third, and if you count creator-owned stuff published at DC, Preacher), properties that can be done on that kind of budget and that don't necessarily get thrown into the "can't compare with Avengers" column. Because if Hourman is viable, then more might be on the way. So here are a few suggestions (all DC properties) from yours truly...
Sandman Mystery Theatre: The photo covers already give away what the series would look like. A pulpy mystery series set in the 1930s, a simple gas mask as a costume, a man haunted by prophetic dreams, and a series of dark killers, kidnappers and other criminals... it seems like a no-brainer for today's mystery-loving television.
Suicide Squad: I'm not suggesting they have costumes or anything (think the later issues of Ostrander's run), but super-criminals who risk life and limb on wetwork, Mission Impossible-style con jobs and anti-terrorism to get years knocked off their sentences is a natural Dirty Dozen set-up, with powers and cool gadgets. DC could even tie it into the movie and TV universe and use guest villains caught by Arrow, Hourman, Batman and Superman. Maybe they wouldn't be in such a rush to kill off the villains until they had a shot at an anti-heroic death as members of Task Force X. I also think the Belle Reve staff were great characters that could form the backbone of such a series.
Secret Six: Not the villain team, but the original version of the concept, in which people with various talents were roped into going on dangerous missions by the mysterious Mockingbird. The twist - Mockingbird was one of the Six! Plenty of room on TV to toy with the audience with clues and red herrings.
Warlord: With the success of Game of Thrones, Merlin, Thor, etc., a fantasy series from DC TV might be viable. I've never been a fan of any of them, but I think Warlord is probably the most potable. It's got a strong, striking title, plenty of beefcake and cheesecake, a world to explore in Skartaris, and it's a fish out of water story since Travis Morgan is from our world.
Time Masters: Doctor Who currently reigns supreme in the time travel category, so there's probably room for a different take on the idea. Rip Hunter is a strong contender, and Time Masters had a good hook in that they ran afoul of the Illuminati everywhen they went, an Illuminati controlled by Vandal Savage. Conspiracy theory stuff across history, with plenty of opportunities to give DC's historical heroes - Anthro, Viking Prince, Golden Gladiator, Nabu, Tomahawk, Black Pirate, all those western stars - a cameo without losing the casual audience (a caveman, a viking, a Roman, etc. to them).
Invasion!: Take the superheroes out of the event, and you get an invasion conducted by an alliance of various alien races. Think Babylon 5 or the later seasons of Deep Space 9, but the station is Earth under siege. Heroes rise against the invasion, of course, but would be mostly human, perhaps the archetypal alien defector, and so on. Perhaps the prison camp that spawned LEGION could be used as a means of getting the main cast together.
Hero Hotline: Got a C-level power, need to pay the bills, and have your heart in the right place? This would be DC's superhero sitcom, kind of like The Tick, about the a service you can call when the emergency ISN'T so great. Cats out of trees, free of charge. I'm available to play Zeep the Living Sponge, by the way.

Seven ideas, one for each day of the week, but there's plenty more where that came from: Challengers of the Unknown, Resurrection Man, Ghost Detectives, Deadman, El Diablo, Mad Dog, House of Mystery (the recent Vertigo version, with its continuing storyline), Unknown Soldier, Rose and the Thorn, Roy Raymond TV Detective... DC better get on it if they don't want to get scooped by similar concepts. Atlantis Chronicles SCOOPED! Fables SCOOPED! Checkmate SCOOPED! It's happening all the time. Just like a DC series or a creator-owned series at DC/Vertigo, but just different enough to avoid lawsuits. You gotta be quick if you want your show on the air.

10 comments:

Craig Oxbrow said...

The description I've read actually sounds like they're borrowing the name for a show about someone seeing disasters in the future and having to stop them, with a limit of an hour instead of, to pick an example purely at random, Seven Days.

Which is a shame since, as noted, "I have superpowers for one hour in a day" is a great hook too.

Siskoid said...

The descriptions of the project don't exclude it, but focus on the Early Edition element.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Siskoid: I've mentioned to you my love of Hourman. Having cerebral palsy, I've always liked the idea that while I take a pain pill to stop spasms, I can play off of it as super-strength for an hour.

But you should know the answer to who should be next after Hourman. THE RED BEE, of course.

Siskoid said...

Of course.

If Ant-Man does really well, it helps RB's chances too.

Jeff R. said...

It is a clear progression from Seven Days to Early Edition to Hourman. In a few years we'll have a TV series based on someone who can see three seconds into the future. (And just occasionally, not all-the-time, since that would be a useful martial arts type power.)

Siskoid said...

It's basically what Spider-sense is.

Moriarty said...

Don't know if you've been watching Arrow at all, but it actually feels to me like they're driving toward some Suicide Squad hijinks. Amanda Waller, Bronze Tiger, Deadshot and Count Vertigo have all made appearances. If a few more charter members show up, we have ourselves a Squad ready for their own show.

Siskoid said...

Only seen the first few episodes and plan to watch more. Didn't they kill Deadshot in that episode I saw though?

Moriarty said...

Nope. He turned up alive and kicking in one of the most recent episodes (in a Russian gulag, no less).

Siskoid said...

You can't keep Deadshot down!

 

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