While Marvel remains a box office Juggernaut (pun intended), DC has always dominated the world of television. While I’m sure the new Marvel TV show will be outstanding (and I’m anxiously awaiting it- while we’re at it, can I put in a request for a live-action X-Men series?), with a new Batman animated series impending and Arrow set to debut in two months, let’s take a look at DC Comics’ 5 Most Outstanding Series!
#5: Wonder Woman
This show did something that virtually no one has been able to do since: portray a live-action Wonder Woman. Granted, there have been attempts (fans everywhere were relieved when the most recent Ally McBeal-esque adaptation didn’t make it past the development stage). Equal parts camp and sass, it managed to be mostly faithful to the comics, all the while developing a groovy feminist superheroine. While the show is the definitely the most ’70s thing since disco was in its death throes, it achieved, if nothing else, something we haven’t seen since.
#4: Justice League Unlimited
I wanted to restrict the DC animated universe on this list, because otherwise it would be pointless. Watch everything. If you’re feeling skeptical about JLU, though, watch this opening:
I mean, damn. When the Justice League cartoon ended, Justice League Unlimited stepped in, adding hundreds of DC superheroes to the pantheon. Each episode is compelling and easy-to-follow, probably because underused heroes (the episode with Booster Gold, “The Greatest Story Never Told”, deserves an Emmy) are balanced with our old favourites in a mix of action, romance, and great comedy.
Na-na-na-na-Baaaatmaaaan. Of course, Batman: The Original Series had to make this list, as no other comic-to-TV adaptation has been as iconic. This show truly put the “comic” in comic, taking any grain of outlandish camp to its (illogical) conclusion. Lasting only three seasons, it’s difficult to think of any other television series that has been this engrained in the public consciousness. From the idiomatic “Holy ____, Batman” to the never-ending parody of action cards, Batman: TOS gave Batman a sense of fun that enabled it to endure decades after cancellation.
It would be impossible to discuss DC-based shows without mentioning Smallville. Lasting ten full seasons, it was the greatest success of any of the shows based on comics-probably ever (unless we’re counting cultural relevance, in which case, Batman: TOS always wins). This is remarkable because the writers were not comic book fans, but they still managed to strip Superman to the barest bones and create a new, compelling series, focusing on a teenage Clark Kent. The show won Emmys and broke records, and was even Christopher Reeve-approved.
#1: Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series is to the DC animated universe what Batman: TOS was to Batman in general. The film-like qualities of the show, in addition to its remarkable animation,was partially responsible for Batman’s return to noir style. The animated series was dark, brooding, and fully in-keeping with the Batman that 80s comics such as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns helped to popularize. Plus, the show gave us Harley Quinn. It could get a lifetime pass for that alone.
Will DC’s newest projects be included in future Best-Of lists, or will they meet the fate of the Birds of Prey series? The only way we can tell for sure is to keep tuning in: same Bat time, same Bat channel!