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Aimless Augury: Superhero Sighting?

This is going to be a bit of a long haul team, but the destination of this post is to get us to a place where I make a ridiculous prediction about the possible appearance of a character on a television show. It’s going to be quite the trek, so if you’re brave or extremely bored then pack yourself a sammage and a Gatorade and follow me!

Something that always makes me chuckle is when I hear someone protesting loudly, about some happening on some television show, by saying “They’re only doing it for the ratings!”. Here’s a news flash folks: EVERYTHING is on television for ratings! The only reason that television networks (try to) have entertaining shows on them is so that we sit there and watch… Not because they want desperately to entertain the masses but because they want the masses to be parked in front of the tube so that they can bombard us with advertising! It really is THAT simple. If a show is popular it means that advertisers will pay top dollar to have their catchy jingles and colorful ads beamed at us during the broadcast of that show, because they know they will reach the greatest audience.

Sure, sometimes the attempts to draw a larger audience, usually by a show struggling to hold its viewers, can be pretty obvious and, if we’re really lucky, it will involve some hot member of the cast getting as much of their kit off as the shows time slot will allow. But that’s only one of the ‘standard’ devices. Others include: The killing of a cast member (or a scenario where the death of a cast member is seemingly inevitable), the return of a former cast member, the Introduction of a new character or a high profile actor guest staring (usually as an existing character’s cousin).

There’s an additional bag of tricks open to shows that are based on some existing lore. The show ENTERPRISE reached into the Star Trek show bag on many occasions by utilizing story lines which encroached on events known well to Star Trek fans. Mind you, Enterprise also dipped at the aforementioned ‘hot member of the cast getting their kit off’ well on more than one occasion too… Not that I’m complaining!

In the end, the desire to transfix us to the television set while being bombarded with advertising usually means that we do end up being presented with shows that we enjoy, but there’s another angle to all this that some may not have considered and that’s the notion that shows themselves can often be used as their own promotional material. I’ll focus on the show SMALLVILLE for a moment to illustrate my point.

Smallville’s fifth season culminated in the appearance of one of the best known (and my favorite) of Superman’s adversaries: General Zod. Now, can it really be coincidence that a character from, arguably, the best of the Superman movies appears in Smallville just as the Brian Singer movie is being released? I think not. Smallville isn’t doing too bad as far as ratings go (last season pulled similar numbers to The O.C) and while the Zod story line can be seen as a way to ensure it’s fans are kept interested, it’s also not a great leap to see how reminding the viewers of the best of the Reeves/Donner films could potentially aid Superman Returns at the box office.

My point is that DC comics has an interest in seeing both of these products succeed so, why not attempt some cross promotional, albeit subtle, tie ins?

One of the most popular episodes from this last season of Smallville was one titled Aqua. The episode featured the appearance of the Aquaman character and, on the strength of the reaction to that episode Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar produced a pilot for an Aquaman series, titled ‘Mercy Reef’. However the turmoil which resulted in the merger of UPN and The WB networks saw the possibility of this series falling by the way side. Interestingly, during the Aqua episode Clark and Arthur (Aquaman) jokingly discuss forming a Junior Lifesaving Association… The JLA.

Aquaman isn’t the first character from DC’s database to make a guest appearance on Smallville. In a previous series Clark met up with a character who identified himself as Bart Allen. Bart possessed powers similar to that of the DC hero ‘The Flash’ and is often called ‘Kid Flash’ or Impulse. However at one point it was revealed that Bart carried multiple forms of identification, showing the names Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West (These are all names of characters who have carried the mantel ‘The Flash’). Again, at the end of the episode (which was titled ‘Run’) Bart and Clark briefly discuss the idea of forming some kind of team or league with others who possess super abilities.

With the demise of the Aquaman series Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have now harvested the actor Justin Hartley, who played Aquaman in the pilot (But NOT in Smallville) and cast him as Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow. reports that the Green Arrow character will appear in seven episodes of the upcoming season of Smallville. Evidently the story line will involve Green Arrow trying to find like-minded people with special powers and put a more formal structure in place or as Alfred Gough describes it: The nascent Justice League.

So, the creators of Smallville have gone out of their way to create some specific tie ins with the JLA. Great, but how does this all tie in with my proposed prediction? Well, lets look at The Justice League for a minute.

According to DC lore, there were seven initial members of the JLA: The Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, with The Flash and Green Arrow joining later.

OK team, pat yourself on the back! You made it through this otherwise pointless rant, so here’s your reward. My worthless prediction:

By now we all know that there is a Wonder Woman movie in the works. We also know that it will be awesome and all things brilliant and shiny because it’s being written and directed by Joss Whedon. Given the notion of cross promotion that I mentioned before, and the clear association that the creators of Smallville have with Clark’s future in the Justice League, I don’t think it is any real stretch to suggest that we will be seeing an appearance by Wonder Woman or at least some acknowledgment of the character as the Wonder Woman movie release date gets closer. [source]

Right, now get along and do something productive with what’s left of your day.

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