The CW has ordered a pilot for Black Lightning,based on the DC comic book of the same name. If they pick that up to series it will give the network five superhero shows on its schedule. That’s quite a lot of superhero exposure and doesn’t even count iZombie, which is #DC based but has not been brought into the Arrowverse yet.
The network has done well with these shows thus far, but at some point superhero burn-out is bound to set in (perhaps this season’s declining ratings suggest it has already). However, fans support the shows and there is plenty of story potential with the many characters the shows have introduced and those they have yet to bring in from the comics.
So, how does The CW keep the Arrow-verse from growing stale. What is the best way to mix things up and keep the audience interested? Here are a few suggestions The CW should consider.
5. Shorten The Seasons
The CW’s schedule is quite crowded with its five DC Comics entries (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, iZombie) and other shows in the pipeline as well. Since it only schedules ten Prime Time hours a week, it needs to optimize its slate to get as much in there as possible (and also avoid the dreaded repeats). Shorter seasons, which The CW is already doing with Legends of Tomorrow, are a good way to do that.
Arrow already has gone well past the 88 episode threshold needed to guarantee it a syndication run, and The Flash will be at that point by the end of its fourth year. A regular complaint I have heard from fans is that these shows seem rather padded out each year, so shorter, tighter seasons could definitely help take care of that. Arrow could go to 13 episodes next season, with The Flash possibly doing the same (Supergirl will probably want to get one more year under her belt before switching to shorter seasons). This can streamline the story arcs and keep the shows from bogging down with unnecessary padding.
4. 'Brave And The Bold'-Style Team-Ups
To make up for the shorter seasons, The CW could introduce a team-up series similar to the Brave and the Bold comic book. This would have one of the main characters like Green Arrow, the Flash, Supergirl, etc. teaming up with one or more superheroes. This could be a way to introduce new characters and/or give more screen time to heroes that have already been introduced but have not seen much action yet.
The best way to go about this would be to approach it as a quasi-anthology with stories that wrap up in an episode or two. It could also be used to fill in gaps on the schedule when repeats would have been airing otherwise. The comic book has been running for decades and has proved quite versatile, and a TV series with a similar format could be just as successful and a good supplement to The CW’s current superhero shows.
3. A 'Showcase'-Like Introduction/Event Series
The CW is teeing up Black Lighting as a potential series, but why not do it with a show designed to introduce new characters or special events. A Showcase-type series could be used to introduce characters like #BlackLightning over a 13-episode span. If that character proves popular they could move to their own series. If the character does not quite catch on, they can still join the Arrowverse and appear in the other shows from time to time.
In addition, this series could deliver an event story arc when not introducing new characters (or could introduce a character as part of the event). Event stories have long been a tradition with the comic books (in fact, they are expected on a yearly basis now), and could work well in the superhero universe The CW has created. This could bring together characters from all the current shows as well as others from the comics and would likely be a big ratings draw based on what we have seen from the crossover episodes thus far.
2. Bring 'iZombie' Into the Fold
While iZombie is not a show I personally have watched that much, it is well loved by its fans though it never drawn too much of an audience. So why not throw it a bone and merge the show with the Arrowverse to give it a boost with some crossover episodes? I know that there is nothing linking it to the other DC shows at the moment, but they have already established that Supergirl takes place on a different Earth, so they could do that with this show as well. #iZombie fans may not want the intrusion of the DC superheroes, but I believe that would help its ratings and perhaps let it stick around a bit longer.
1. Don’t Rest on Your Laurels, CW — Keep Mixing Things Up
Most important, #TheCW needs to keep their superhero shows fresh and not let them fall into a rut (something that both The Flash and Arrow have been accused of at times). As it is, the network will have a huge syndication package with all of these shows combined together, so anything introduced from this point forward can just get tacked on to that for an infinite run in cable channel repeats or streaming binge sessions (If they are all tied together properly, that is). Adding the Brave and Bold and Showcase type shows helps with that. This gives plenty of flexibility to introduce new characters and bring in crossover events, and they can reboot themselves on a regular basis. Plus, they also offer plenty of flexibility on the schedule as they can be slotted in to the gaps if they follow more of an anthology format and/or have shorter story arcs.
The CW has done quite well with its DC superhero shows thus far and can continue to enjoy success for years to come. But if their shows start repeating the same stories and patterns, viewers will quickly lose interest. There is plenty of material for the network to mine, with over 60 years of comic book source material available to them. Yet, they need to retool a bit and adopt a more versatile format that takes advantage of the universe they have created, which would allow them to keep mixing things up and assure that the viewers keep tuning in for years to come.
Check out the upcoming Flash/Supergirl crossover episode promo below:
Chime in below and let us know what superheroes and/or event stories you would like for The CW shows to bring into the fold in the coming year and more.