What happens when comic Michael Showalter and his writing partner Christina Lee start texting about Smallville? Find out below.
Taping THE WRITERS’ ROOM, like every episode of The Walking Dead, cable’s most-watched TV series ever, is never quite drama-free. Before our host Jim Rash even began discussing The Walking Dead, Smallville and other comic adaptations in this season’s second episode, the lights began flickering on and off.
In honor of this Friday’s episode of THE WRITERS’ ROOM: “The Walking Dead, Smallville & other comics,” here’s a list of the best English-speaking supernatural shows of the last 25 years. (Otherwise, THE RETURNED would be in the top slot, naturally.) From zombies to monster hunters, it’s all here. Check out the list below, if you dare.
Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar discuss their writing approach, the controversial departures they made from the Superman comics and the impact of Christopher Reeve.
Q: You guys have worked together a long time. How did you discover your mutual love for Superman?
AG: We were actually approached by Warner Bros. Television where we had an overall deal. We didn’t approach Smallville as comic book geeks since neither of us had ever read a Superman comic. Rather, we came at it as outsiders who wanted to make a show for the fans and the uninitiated alike.
MM: My first real exposure to Superman was Richard Donner’s movie in 1979. We have since worked with Donner on Lethal Weapon 4, but I remember thinking the movie was kind of boring. However, I really loved Superman II. I had the poster for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace on my bedroom wall when I was a kid — but I’m not sure that is a good thing.
Q: Smallville stirred up a lot of controversy with hardcore comic book fans devoted to the original. How did you guys deal with that?
AG: Like all writers — we tried to avoid it as much as possible! We stopped reading Ain’t it Cool News where we were being burned in effigy everyday, and didn’t go to the San Diego Comic-Con until Season 2.
MM: Listening to fan boys is tiring, frustrating and ultimately futile. Smallville began at the dawn of the fan-forum era — we used to scan the posts to get a sense of the general feeling, but that’s it. If we did course-correct a storyline it would be because the fans’ sentiment mirrored our own. The truth is the so-called “hardcore fans” will find fault with anything and everything. We had no interest in following the established mythology of the D.C. universe or aligning our timeline with theirs.
Comic book geeks are the toughest audience to please. Sure, they’ll flock to any superhero movie (and often in costume) but change one detail of the beloved source material, and that’s basically their kryptonite. Still, a select few comic book flicks qualify as nearly 100% nerd-approved. Take a look below to find out which made the cut. (Then tune in to THE WRITERS’ ROOM for a celebration of small screen adaptations: “The Walking Dead, Smallville & other comics” on Fri., Apr. 25 at 9PM/8c.)
1. The Avengers – 97% Nerd-Approved
With Marvel’s mega-blockbuster, writer-director Joss Whedon tapped into every superhero fan’s inner 10-year-old. For those whose inner child is perpetually clutching an action figure wherever they go, a Hulk who didn’t look like Shrek only sweetened the deal.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 99.98% Nerd-Approved
A near perfect adaptation of Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting’s “Winter Soldier” comics storyline, this movie is so chock full of Marvel-ous Easter eggs – references to Doctor Strange and Crossbones among others — that it isn’t just the latest comic book movie. It may also be the best.
Los Angeles Bureau Chief of TV Guide Magazine Michael Schneider discusses The Walking Dead‘s success, the legacy of Smallville and the gap between TV and movie comic book adaptations.
Q: What’s the biggest surprise that Robert Kirkman brought to the zombie genre with The Walking Dead?
A: That it could be done as an ongoing TV show. Many have tried, but no one has been able to figure out how to bring such humanity to the genre on television. That’s a credit to Kirkman, as well as Frank Darabont, Glen Mazzara, Scott Gimple, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and everyone else involved.
Q: Do you think the series has pushed the envelope in terms of makeup and F/X on TV?
A: That’s a testament to Greg Nicotero, the special effects master who has created such a distinctive look and world. Greg’s zombies are icky, dripping, messy monsters that are a visual treat to see. And then can’t unsee.