Classic Television Thursday #44 – The Pulp Heroes (A Proposal)

(A couple of months ago, I was in my local McKay’s bookstore and happened across a handful of Shadow pulps for less than $1 apiece. I’ve had a lot of fun reading – or in a couple of cases re-reading – them, and that’s what led to this post.)

p1Something different this week. Instead of covering a classic television show, I’m going to propose a new one based on some classics from the past.

One of the genres that sees to be very hot right now on TV (and in the movies, of course) is the superhero show. On the CW we’ve got The Flash and Arrow, Fox has Gotham (which, at the moment is really more of a cop show that a superhero show, but it is set in the world of Batman, so it qualifies), ABC has Marvel’s Agents of Shield, CBS will soon be debuting Supergirl, and there are more on the way.

Plus you have Netflix which dove in head first with Daredevil and will soon be releasing Jessica Jones on the world, again with more series waiting in the wings.

p3Also, there is the trend toward more anthology type series, with limited runs telling one story per shortened season then moving on to another one, such as American Horror Story or True Detective.

All of these trends make me think that the time is right for a new set of shows based on the pulp characters from the 30s and 40s.

Think about it. These characters, while quite often somewhat outlandish in and of themselves, for the most part operated in the kind of grounded world that television loves to set shows like Arrow or Daredevil in, and though many of them are the prototypes for the kind of anti- or quasi-hero that seems so popular today, most of their adventures would not require a whole lot of special-effects work because they really didn’t have super powers per se.

p5Plus, there are many different ways they could be approached. You could take the Sherlock route and do a series of mini-movies with them, you could go Netflix style and do say a 10 episode season featuring one of them, or you could even do what I would really like to see, a rotating anthology under the umbrella title of The Pulp Heroes, which would feature say four different characters each with their own self contained episodes with, oh, The Shadow on the first week of the month, Doc Savage on the second, The Avenger on the third, and The Spider on the fourth. Then in months where you had a fifth week, that could be used as a try-put for a different character who, depending on the response, might eventually get his own slot or show.

Another thing in favor of this proposal is that there would be no shortage of material to draw from. Why there were 325 pulp stories featuring just The Shadow.

And finally, if you need any more convincing, well, just look at some of the covers for these mags adorning this article.

Yeah, I’d say this idea is a blast from the past whose time has finally come.

(Plus, who knows, maybe we could finally erase the stigma that accompanies this:)

(Y’know, I really do need to revisit that one sometime soon just to see if it really deserves the bad rap that it’s gotten over time. Though re-watching just the trailer really makes me think it probably does.)




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