Wednesday Comments – The Folly of CW’s Hourman

Today news broke that CW is developing a television series based on Hourman. At first I was way excited. I mean I dig the concept of Hourman and I dig him as a hero. And I absolutely loved the Peyer/Morales series, like loved to the point I’m always tempted to pick up random issues in the cheap boxes at cons type of love.

But then I read the write up of the show and my excitement dissipated.

It’s not that I don’t think that the Hourman being developed won’t make for good television. It’ll probably be a thoroughly enjoyable hour of television. It’s just that the CW’s “Hourman” isn’t an adaptation of DC’s “Hourman.”

And adaptation is something that actually uses components of the original in a translation to another medium. CW’s Hourman falls quite short. And it’s a pretty bad idea.

First off, the CW Hourman has glimpses of an hour into the future. He’s not an android. He doesn’t run a pharmaceutical company. Nor does he take a pill that gives him powers for exactly sixty minutes. He’s a guy who can see something horrible happening sixty minutes in the future.

Secondly, one of the benefits of adapting something is a) you get the fans of the original to support it and b) the original property reaps financial benefits due to increased pop cultural awareness. Neither is going to happen in this case, though in fairness, there aren’t that many diehard Hourman fans. But by the same token, DC won’t be selling tons of Hourman trades and comic shops won’t get the benefit of having new fans visiting looking for Hourman adventures.

Another reason why this is a bad idea specifically for DC is that if it doesn’t succeed, and (being intimately familiar with the television industry, I can say that most shows that make it to development don’t get made) it’ll look like a failure on DC’s part.

Honestly, CW would have been better off just calling the show Prophecy or Prophetic Vision Man, rather than Hourman.

Now lest you think I’m just crapping on the idea just to do it, let me tell you what I thought immediately when I heard Hourman was being developed.

I initially thought that it was a great idea and I was kicking myself for not thinking of it. I mean is there possibly a hero that could be more topical than Hourman? Allow me to elaborate.

Right off the bat you’ve got Hourman, a character based in the pharmacology culture. We are certainly living in a time for pharmacology. Nearly every fourth commercial is an ad for some kind of pill with horrible side effects that you should ask your doctor about. So even if Rex Tyler isn’t the head of a Big Pharm company, just a lowly scientist, it’s still incredibly current.

Then you’ve got the very notion of performance enhancing drugs. If there’s a sport in season, there’s a story about performance enhancing drugs. Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez have all been accused of doping. And what’s Miraclo other than the ultimate performance enhancing drug?

Maybe Rex Tyler works for a BALCO type lab and Miraclo is something they were working on, but abandoned because it only lasted for one hour? Or maybe it’s something that works specifically with his genetics, to give him enhanced abilities?

Speaking of enhanced abilities, whether it’s Viagra, cialis or zertec, we’re a pill popping culture. I think a hero who gets his powers from a pill would really resonate with people.

Plus when you consider all of the other DCU drugs from Venom to Velocity-9, they’d fit right in on a show about a pill popping Hourman.

But Hourman could also have dealt with other things. We’re also a culture that has a fascination with addiction and addiction is something that Hourman dealt with in comics. I could totally see Rex Tyler becoming addicted to Miraclo or at least the thrill of being a hero as a storyline thrust for the second season of the show. Once he sees he’s getting addicted he starts tinkering with the formula to a variety of effects, one such being that he’s less impervious to bullets.

I could also see the distinction between Rex Tyler and Hourman being a theme on the show. Unlike most other heroes, Rex wouldn’t always have Hourman’s abilities. So there might be some sort of Jeckle and Hyde at play with the relationship. Or at least Walter White and Heisenberg. I think Rex would get a thrill from being Hourman and might sort of resent being “Rex Tyler” the other 23 hours a day. And I think that would be an interesting dynamic to explore and seeing Rex come to terms with being Rex.

And so that’s what I had in my mind as soon as I heard that CW was developing a show around DC’s Hourman. And that’s why I’m so disappointed at what it’s actually going to be about.

While I’m just a guy who writes for a site about comic books, I’m also the guy who totally predicted a Constantine tv show more than six months before one was actually announced.

Anway, it’s Wednesday, go out and buy some fresh new comics from your local comic book shop.

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