After the CW ending its Superman TV series Smallville, NBC's strikeout with both Heroes and The Cape, and ABC's failure to get a Wonder Woman TV show off the ground, suffice to say television fans are still waiting for a new superhero show to come along and occupy the airwaves.
Word is that Warner Bros. TV is uniting with FOX to develop a TV series based on DC Comics' supernatural character The Spectre. Brandon Camp (John Doe) will be scripting the show and will also executive produce alongside of Gran Torino producer Bill Gerber. DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns brought the character to Camp's attention.
For those who don't know: The Spectre was co-created by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and (allegedly) Bernard Bailey back in the 1940s. The character was a cop named Jim Corrigan who is brutally murdered by being stuffed in a barrel that is filled with cement and dropped in the water. Instead of dying, Corrigan was resurrected as an avenging spirit that is tasked with roaming the earth and punishing evildoers who seek to escape the hand of justice. In later incarnations, the Spectre has become a nigh-omnipotent primal force of nature, at times serving as the thematic or spiritual center of DC Universe.
Clearly the TV version of the character is more likely to stick to the undead cop/vigilante, which would essentially make the series a weekly cop procedural with a supernatural twist. Of course, some people may be quick to point out that The Cape tried to follow a similar formula - a cop becomes a hooded vigilante - however, The Spectre is a far cry from the silly melodrama of The Cape, instead offering a mix of Noir and horror genre conventions.
DC recently tested The Spectre's appeal by featuring the character in an animated short film, and as I said in my review:
This animated short captures the character of The Spectre perfectly, by not shying away from the fact that he is a scary and violent force of the DC universe. Besides the highly-successful Blade franchise, I have yet to see a comic book movie that combines the elements of the horror genre with the superhero genre (nice try Ghost Rider). If ever there was a movie that could tell you a ghost story about a ghost you both root for and fear at the same time, The Spectre would be it. (Not to mention, the character would (literally) open up a whole new dimension of the DC Universe.)
Hopefully the showrunners recognize the strengths I referred to above, which would be a fresh approach to both cop and superhero TV series. An interesting aside: DC Comics has another supernatural character trying to haunt the TV airwaves - the ghostly hero Deadman, who is being adapted for TV by Supernatural creator Eric Kripke.
In a best case scenario (for comic book fans) both Deadman and The Spectre will make it onto TV - but is there enough room for two dead superheroes in fans' viewing schedule? And where does this leave DC occult-themed character, Raven, who was also slated to make her TV debut once upon a time?
This Spectre TV series has a script order at the moment. We'll keep you informed about how the show develops.