As time goes by, it's starting to become more evident that The CW is trying to carve out a niche among television viewers who also happen to be DC fans. First, they had Smallville, focusing on a young Clark Kent before becoming Superman; Smallville spawned a spin-off: Arrow, a show still running that explores billionaire playboy Oliver Queen in his first steps as the hero Green Arrow. As of late, we've also heard lots of buzz concerning the development of a show featuring long-time DC fan darling The Flash, for which a Green Arrow season 2 back-door pilot has already been filmed with in the lead role. And now, it looks like there's a fourth show based on a DC character in the works: this time, it'll revolve around a less well-known but still interesting superhero from the extensive DC roster: Hourman.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that The CW is in the midst of developing a brand-new Hourman franchise, which will be scripted and executive produced by (who had his writing credentials amped up by his tenure on The Sopranos); also producing are Jennifer Gwartz and . It appears the deal covers two production years (seasons).
For those of you who've never heard about Hourman (he's honestly not that widely-known outside of comic-book fandom), the titular character is (in this incarnation, which doesn't really coincide with the comic-book versions) a pharmaceutical analyst who discovers his 'gift' (or curse?) of being able to glimpse tragic events that happen one hour in the future. Thanks to this supernatural ability, he is able to prevent many harrowing tragedies from happening, as he tries to reconcile with his ex-wife and estranged son.
That seems to be the story that the network's heading for, and I can't blame them for trying to modernize the character and modify his origin story a bit. The first Hourman (at the time spelled Hour-Man), introduced in 1940, was called Rex Tyler, a biochemist who gains his powers artificially (in the show it seems they will be shown as inherent) by ingesting the miraculous vitamin Miraclo. The effects of the drug would only last for an hour, but they included superhuman strength and speed for the duration of the hour-long 'trip.' The drama mainly derived from the ticking time-bomb scenario that his 60-minute superpower limitation screamed for. After a handful of issues, he became one of the founders of the Justice Society of America, the older (although less famous) sister organization of the JLA (as a side note, I really recommend the JSA Ragnarok-themed The Last Days of the Justice Society of America (1986), one of the best storylines for this rag-tag group).
After World War II, Hourman's popularity started to wane. However, after his series ended due to low sales, it was revived in the Silver Age of comics, at first as a guest star in Justice League of America issues, a good place for a respected veteran of the Golden Age, if you will. Tyler's personality got a lot more interesting and complex when he started developing an addiction to Miraclo and crime-fighting, which made him into a cautionary symbol for the fight against drug dependency. After a long run up to the mid-eighties, Rex semi-retired and passed on the Hourman mantle to his son, Rick.
Rick Tyler took over as Hourman after the Crisis on Infinte Earths. He took after his father in his addiction to Miraclo, which ended when he got cured by Amazo. Rick still is Hourman in the comic books, as well as the husband of Jesse Chambers. A third comic series launched in 1997 featured a more futuristic incarnation of the character, in the android 'Matthew Tyler,' modeled after Rex T.'s DNA. He is currently out of the picture in the comics universe, at least for a while (he was destroyed by Extant in Rex's place).
What do you think? Does this show have a bright future ahead, or is it rather bleak for a marginal superhero with, let's say, very limited powers? It seems like this new angle of him being a one-hour-in-advance prophet could potentially make him more interesting than another pill-popping costumed klutz, but does this deviate too far from comic-book canon for your taste? Who would you cast as Rex Tyler? Which characters would you like to see? (We should expect JSA and JLA members galore). Let us know in the little forum provided for your use right under this article.