Saturday, October 04, 2008

My Take On "The Graysons"


Earlier this week, The CW rocked the comics world with news of a pilot in development called "The Graysons," which would "follow the world of Dick "DJ" Grayson before he takes on the iconic Robin identity and aligns himself with Batman." It seems the CW is taking a page from the successful "Smallville" series, now in its 8th season. Heck, it even has the same producers. Comic fans have strong opinions on "Smallville"; I'm not much of a fan, although I've followed the series throughout its run. Whether you like it or not, you can't argue with the show's mainstream success and appeal.

Newsarama's blog asked me to weigh in on the series. UPDATE: Here's some other takes in addition to my own. Looks like I'm the most long-winded of the bunch. That's what happend when you get me started! Here's my thoughts on the news....


DJ or Not DJ

First, let me just mention that Nightwing is my all-time favorite character. He's got one of the most unique and rich histories of any comic character. And he's one of the few to actually grow up in front of our eyes. Heck, he's one of the reasons why I created titanstower.com.

So, "The Graysons." What's a long-time wingnut to think?

A lot of die-hard fans have objected to the idea of calling Dick Grayson "DJ." I am not one of them. I think DC should have taken advantage of one of their continuity reboots ("Crisis on Infinite Earths," "Zero Hour" or "Infinite Crisis," take your pick) to alter Dick's genetalia-icious namesake. His full name is Richard Grayson, after all. Post-reboot, if could have been easily altered to Rick Grayson (Rick is still a derivation of Richard and also rhymnes with "Dick") Let's face it, no one under the age of fifty would choose to be called "Dick." So, whatever, call him DJ, it's all good. It's also the least of my concerns.

Meet "The Graysons"

I think the show will find some challenges in how to meld the history of Dick Grayson and the DC characters into "The Graysons." "Smallville" had the advantage of Superman's entire legacy of family, friends and foes. I'm not sure how successfully "The Graysons" could meld in the Batman mythos, since many of those characters are specific to their interactions with Batman. And, especially, if Batman has not yet debuted in Gotham. Who knows what the producers are planning? Much like "Smallville", I'd expect "The Graysons" to take some liberties with the DCU characters and their timelines.

So, what do I hope for as a Dick Grayson (or, "DJ" Grayson) fan? First and foremost, I think they need to nail down the character of DJ himself. He's honest, loyal, smart, close to his family, intensively protective and dangerously curious. I think it's also important to figure out ways to propel the stories. If it were up to me, I'd have the pilot episode take place days after the mysterious "Batman" sightings in Gotham City. Intrigued by this urban myth, fourteen year old DJ would intensely follow this larger-than-life hero's adventures through newspaper and media. Inspired by this bold new hero, DJ would seek out trouble as Haley's Traveling Circus rode from town to town, often embroiling himself in situations that would call upon his acrobatic abilities and burgeoning detective skills.

The show would track DJ's progress, as he learns to become a hero. Tweaking the Robin/Batman timeline, the death of DJ's parents would have to occur on the very last episode, where we would witness the origin of Robin. Whether this happens after 3, 5 or 7 years would depend on the popularity of "The Graysons."

Haley's Circus

The circus backdrop lends itself to a cast of colorful and interesting characters. It's also a natural way for the show to introduce a variety of characters with strange abilities. Here's some suggestions for the main cast (you might recognize some, comic fans!):

John and Mary Grayson: From a long line of circus folks, John and Mary uphold the proud family tradition and regard Haley Circus as their home and its residents as their family. The Graysons don't own Haley's circus, but they do run it. A blend of old fashioned showmanship and new era extravaganza, Haley's Circus also becomes a haven for outsiders and those cursed with strange powers.

Grant "The Amazing Ravager" Wilson: Fans will know he is the son of Deathstroke, destined to die tragically as the first Ravager. But in this series, Grant is a troubled and tough marksman and therefore, knife thrower, for Haleys. Grant ran away from his family a year ago. He's best friends with DJ Grayson, but in many ways, the boys are polar opposites. With his severe anger issues, Grant would be the series "bad boy." As the series progressed, we'd see rising tensions and encounters with his father, the world-famous secret assassin. The Grant/DJ friendship could give the show the same vibe as the ill-fated Lex/Clark friendship. Plus, the show gets a fantatsic recurring villain in Deatshtroke!

"The Great Zatara" and his daughter, Zatanna: In the comics, Zatanna is a magic-wielding heroine. In this series, she has no powers, but she's got her own bag of tricks. Popular escape artist and magician Zatara is accompanied by his clever teenaged daughter and apprentice, Zatanna. Zatanna (Zee, for short) is close friends with DJ, and the willful teenaged girl helps him get out of tight spots with her escape-artist training and smoke-and-mirrors tricks. Zatanna would be intrigued by DJ's adventures and become his "side-kick," or a sort. And hell yes, she's got to wear the fishnets on stage.

Lilith "The Omen" Clay: Titans fans know her as Omen, the mysterious mind reader who long sought the truths behind her origins. For this series, Lilith would be a mentalist - "The Omen" - at Haley Circus, able to read minds and sometimes see the future. Lilith would also be on a quest to find her true parents and try to learn the source of her powers. Lilith is often scared of her powers and wonders whether they are a blessing or a curse. Withdrawn and troubled, Lilith is drawn to DJ's strength and confidence. Lilith provides some "super-power" vibe to the cast, but without overshadowing DJ. Her presense would also open up new story possibilities into the unexplained and supernatural. Her powers would also help DJ seek out crime from town to town.

For the first season, I'd create a season arc with two of Haley Circus' own residents: The bizarre brain-in-a-jar called "The Brain" and the talking genius gorilla, Mallah. The two masterminds would recruit fellow freaks (Houngan, Phobia, and others) and commit secrets crimes as the circus traveled from place to place. Seeing themselves as united in freakdom, Brain and Mallah would refer to their enclave as "The Brotherhood."

Bring On The DCU


It's a little harder figuring in Bat-characters, but I'd love to see a "team up" with a teenaged pre-Batgirl Barbara Gordon, an encounter with carnie-freak Croc, a run-in with a mysterious burgler known as the Catwoman. And, for sweeps, what's a circus without a clown? The circus would be the perfect backdrop for the Joker's version of "The Greatest Show On Earth," his own twisted circus extravaganza. It might be nice, in later seasons, for DJ Grayson to meet a precocious Tim Drake or a street urchin with an attitude named Jason Todd. Some other characters that might be useful in "The Graysons" may include Clayface, Lady Shiva, David Cain, Poison Ivy, Firefly, The Mad Hatter, and The Scarecrow.

Titans characters are a bit easier, since many of them are teens, and would fit well with a similarly aged DJ Grayson. Also, the Titans has its share of non-powered super guys, as well as teenagers that recieved accidental powers they have trouble dealing with. I can imagine tales that would involve archer Roy Harper (Speedy) in a possible recurring role as Grant's rival, carnie-kid Beast Boy, and perhaps the rest of the freakish Doom Patrol with him (especially is the show can establish a version of "The Brotherhood"). Some other Titans that could fit "The Graysons" universe could be Aqualad, Raven, Cyborg, Wally West, Magenta, Danny Chase, Flamebird, Thunder & Lightning and Pantha. And with Grant and Slade Wilson around, It would be great to see the rest of the Wilson clan (Joseph, Rose and Addie) eventually.

The show could also accomodate some of the Titans' most famous adversaries, like Brother Blood (a dangerous cult leader who lives off the energy of his followers), The H.I.V.E. (a vast criminal network), and even Cheshire and Vigilante as teenagers. With Lilith in the cast, I can also imagine her bad-seed illusion casting brother, Haze, as a recurring nemesis/frenemy. I would also take a page from the animated series and cast Gizmo as an annoying high-tech teen terror and Red X as a mysterious thief.

Then there's Nightwing's own rogue's gallery. Blockbuster might serve as a useful recurring nemesis with a vast crime network. It would also be natural for DJ Grayson to meet Double Dare, a pair of acrobatic thieves.

Some other DC characters could fit into "The Graysons," such as The Creeper or Deadman (who had circus origins himself).

Hey, CW, if you need a consulant, just give me a holler!

Seriously, though, if the show wants to please fans while striking its own path, it needs to be true to the character of Dick Grayson and his universe of characters. If the source material is treated with respect while creating an entertaining program, the show can have a successful run.

Bill Walko
titanstower.com

What you y'all think?

What's your take on "The Graysons"?

35 Comments:

  • At 6:22 PM, Anonymous oracle_x said…

    Hi Bill,
    Honestly I thought this pilot was one of the worst ideas from the Angel&VeronicaMarsMustDie network...erm...I mean CW. But a few of your ideas there are actually pretty cool and they should take note of them. Make sure you get a credit though :)

     
  • At 3:18 AM, Blogger Mr. Allison Blaire said…

    I would totally watch a show based on your ideas

    Not that I won't watch the one that's planned regardless but your ideas are pretty damned cool.

     
  • At 4:39 AM, Blogger MetFanMac said…

    A well thought out post, suh.

    But it won't make me watch it.

     
  • At 7:35 AM, Anonymous nick said…

    i gotta say, if the show was like your ideas i would watch in a heartbeat. but this is the CW. i used to love smallville, before it went extra dawsons creek on our ass. and lets not forget just throwing continuity out the window. so as much as i would like to have faith that it will be good, i will say that the show has potential.

     
  • At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hoenstly you're getting your hopes up. This show will bite it. YOu assume that they will stick to his character, but they're going to make him an angsty dark teen in a dead beat world.

    the circus is creepy there's no getting around that.

    your ideas are good but if you want to remain a Dick Grayson fan i would stay away or it'll ruin your view of the character

     
  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love all your ideas, the show would do very well if they followed your thoughts. You seriously need to find the right people and let them read your ideas. I can so see you as consulting producer.

     
  • At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    They already did Cyborg in Smallville though. *sad face* And they'd probably have to revamp Tempest and Red Arrow's back stories since their mentors are in Smallville... But I guess that depends on whether or not that show gets canceled.

    Personally, I'm hoping for a better cast than what Superman got. I'd like to hear your thoughts on casting.

     
  • At 10:36 PM, Blogger Hellfyre D said…

    Speaking as another long time Wingnut ... I think I'd rather see a show based around the Titans and how they live their life when not with their "grown-up heroes" ... solve some crime, hang out .. etc.
    The idea behind The Graysons is okay ... but how long could a series like that go? 2 seasons maybe? Really, the WB and DC should just bite the bullet and make a good series called maybe "Grayson" that centers around the life and times of Richard Grayson ... as an acrobat, as someone who's had great loss and as a hero. Season one is the set up ... get to know his folks, the people at the circus and BANG ... it all crashes down in the season finale as his parents are killed.
    Season 2, start with him living with Bruce and slowly work in the hero angle. Show the training, the troubles of adaption and, as season 2 closes, give him the costume.
    Season 3, it's all about Robin ... with and without Batman. Maybe bring in the Titans ... make it a better show than Smallville (and I'm a Smallville fan ;) ). Show the heroes for who they are and take advantage of the hero craze in Hollywood.

     
  • At 4:48 AM, Blogger Johny Ho said…

    Bill, only you could've convinced me that's an good idea.
    I've got a take on this, and I plan to blog about it later.

     
  • At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've seen primarily nothing but typical fanboy rants. It was very refreshing to see such a well thought out opinion on this.

    As an uber Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) fan, I'm just excited that the character will get the exposure. For every comic message board of haters, there's a new genre of fans who will enjoy it just for the love of the character, the different take on the story, or even the ladies getting a new heart throb actor to swoon over like Tom Welling.

    I see the logic in the name change and don't see the need for endless hate for it, however it is cool to see so many people passionate about the character that they want to preserve so much of it.

    I guess all I can say is let's not cast stones until we actually see the product. When Heath Ledger was announced as the Joker, there was nothing but hate and Gotham/Brokeback Mountain jokes. After his performance, it's impossible to envision the Joker done by anyone else.

    That's my 2 cents and I'll give you your change later. :)

     
  • At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i love your ideas... hellfire d had the best idea..... but what about starfire!!! helloo robins true love.... if there is noone for robin (in a lovey-dovey way) then there are NO viewers...

     
  • At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    umm when you were mentioning which titans characters should be in it e.g cyborg, raven. i noticed how you didnt mention Star, which plays a much more important part in Dicks life :D

     
  • At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Redbird03 said…

    This is basically how I picture the series going...
    http://shortpacked.com/comics/20081007thegraysons.png

    Thanks to Shortpacked for summing up what I expect the Grayson to end up being like.

     
  • At 3:12 PM, Anonymous redbird03 said…

    We all know that during the course of this series they will never show Batman. Because of Batman Begins, Smallville refused to introduce Batman. They still however wanted to have the Superman/Batman relationship in the show and instead introduced Green Arrow instead. In this series, it won't be until the Batman Begin's franchise ends or at least the very last episode of season 8, before they introduce Bruce Wayne on screen.

    Don't get me wrong, Bill's ideas sound like they could be interesting... I doubt the CW will be that smart however. And even then, I'm still left to wonder, why? Why not do a series about one of the heroes who stands alone? Why do a series with a character who's entire story revolves around another character who we will never see?

    It's like I said in a previous post, Dick Grayson was trained as Robin because of his family's death, by a man who experienced the same thing in his childhood. But this series will revolve around Dick stopping criminals and eventually saving the world from global threats completely as his own hero. At the end of the series... why would he want to become Batman's sidekick? It'd kinda just make sense to cut out the middle-man and go straight to Nightwing.

    It just seems like this idea kinda negates a lot of what made Dick Grayson who he is? By the time the show ends, he'll be an adult in his early to mid-twenties. The murder of his parents will, yes, still lead him to be a super-hero, but it won't make him become Batman's son and sidekick. After all, what's the point? He'll be at the age where he had to start out his own life anyways.

    That's what bothered me about Robin in BATMAN FOREVER. Their version of Dick Grayson didn't make sense to me. The guy looked like was in his mid twenties, and he gets taken in by a rich guy. Why does he need a guardian? It's basically approach from that movie and the one that followed and we all know how that ended...

    Not to mention, we all know this will be a freak of the week series for the first two or three seasons, and most likely revolve around a great deal of stalker/super-villains wanting Dick's token best gal pal or love interest if it's Smallville predecessor is any indication. And to be honest? I stopped watching that show after the first season and didn't start up again until I heard they were introducing Flash and Green Arrow and them.

    Oh and you can bet Jason Todd will probably be killed during the course of this series when he's introduced.

    Oh, and as a side note: Heath Ledger's Joker? I NEVER had any trouble with him playing the clown. I thought it was an interesting choice and after his performance in Brokeback Mountain, I was anxious to see his take on Joker.

    I want to be hopeful that this series will be good... but I just don't see how they can do it without altering the story so much that we're basically left saying 'Batman who?'

     
  • At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, so, did you actually see the program or not?

     
  • At 10:03 PM, Anonymous redbird03 said…

    Did who watch what program?

    I'm assuming you is aimed at me since I posted before you. And I'm assuming the program you're talking about it Smallville, since the Graysons isn't even out yet. If not... well sorry. You'll need to specify.

    Yes, I saw Smallville. I got bored with it quickly after the first season because the stories were lacking any originality. They followed a constant formula that I got tired with quickly. Every week we had the same formula. Someone is stalking Clark, Lex, Lana or Chloe. They gain or already had super-powers. They try and force themselves on the other person. Clark runs in, saves and saves the day. Everyone knows Clark was the hero, but don't think too hard on how he did it. There was also the constant Lana/Clark thing that just felt annoyingly forced after a while.

    Later seasons introduced bigger storylines, but we were still stuck with the same romantic issues between Clark and Lana and this will-they-won't they stuff. I only started watching the series again when in recent seasons was the introduction of main villains (Zod, Brainiac, etc...) and new supporting cast members (Supergirl, Green Arrow, Lois Lane, Black Canary, etc...) And it was mostly because I found those characters more interesting than Clark or Lana most of the time.

    Do all that with the Graysons and add to that re-writing the character so massively that he's unrecognizable, and basically removing the Batman's parts... well, it just doesn't feel like it's going to work well.

    Superman worked fine (in concept). He's a kid learning to control his powers, and playing junior super-hero. His parents are there to help him in his powers, and he has friends and loved ones who he has to hide from. That's pretty easy to work with for a TV series.

    Robin however needs Batman. Otherwise... well.. what's he point?

     
  • At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    STOP giving away Idears Like this....

    You should be makeing money of them :)

     
  • At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No, I was talking about Bill Walko. Wondering if he saw the program or what he was giving his input on if he hadn't seen it.

     
  • At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree that the name Dick is from a different generation, and DJ is OK. I kinda like the name Rick. It’s a hard hitting Rock and Roll name, but hey that’s just my opinion.

    ~ Rick
    (No bios here)

     
  • At 9:46 PM, Blogger Nightwing said…

    anonymous, I havent seen it. I dont think it's been casted or filmed yet! Just my nutty opinions! Thanks for reading...
    - Bill Walko

     
  • At 1:41 PM, OpenID aoko said…

    I don't mine the idea of calling him "DJ", but personally I thinks that "Rick" makes more sense. Then again, It's ok for me...

    I did think about having Zatanna at the show too... but never thought about Lilith and that would be great!

    Tim could still be Dick's fan. They could meet because of that photograph in which appeared him with the Flying Graysons. And end up being friends by chatting. Tim could also come to the circus (during the day, maybe) in order to play with Dick...

    Reading the comments, people asked about Starfire. I am a Kory x Dick fan. However, I find It difficult to make her appear in the show. I know she was important when Dick decided to stop being Robin and start being Nightwing... But this show happens before that...
    The whole problem with the Gordanians and Blackfire wouldn't fit the show; and unless she could come to the Earth without being follow, try to hide near the circus and end up being discover by Dick... I cannot made-up another way to make her appear in the show and link her with Richard...

    I am not a Smallville fan. But I would give this TV show a try =P!

    XOXO

     
  • At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bill how would you bring starfre into the the show. You cant deny that she is a very big part of dick's life. I like how you would have "Zee" and Omen. Logically it makes sence, still wonder about Star. What are your thoughts about this?

     
  • At 1:21 AM, Blogger Nightwing said…

    anonymous, I love Starfire, but as Aoko pointed out, it would be hard to make an alien part of the more-down-to-earth adventures of DJ Grayson. I fear she would be changed so much, she'd barely be recognized. I just don't think Starfire would fit well within the fabric of the show. And that's coming from a Starfire fan!
    - Bill

     
  • At 6:57 PM, Anonymous don said…

    I agree with all of your ideas Bill.

    The problem though is that, yes, Dick Grayson has matured but this series is going to be set when he was a lot younger and back then he was far from mature. As expected of a young boy of that time he was overbearingly sarcastic, cracking one-liners that frankly didn't always work and I have to say he could be downright irritating.

    I would like to see him re-imagined in a way like Smallville which shows that whilst, yes, he is young he does not act the way he did back then in the comics. Times have changed after all and the one-liner gags just don't really sit well anymore and have dated to some extent.

     
  • At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    oh yeah! star! totally forgot about her (Stars number 1 fan btw!) imagine having a cool alien girl coming from space and trying to adapt on earth with really awseome superpowers! and then she meets dick and blah blah blah...ok im dreaming again. thats NEVER gona happen :S but she could provide chemistry and !comedy! into the series...

     
  • At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh we all know that Starfire will be inroduced into the series eventually if this happens. However, Star will either be a human girl with a conveniently similar name, or retain her alien origin (to a very small extent, removing her princess aspects and warrior aspects). She will be a super-slender, c-cup (As oppose to her double d's), caucasian humanoid looking girl, who will have red-highlights and occasionally wear a purple t-shirt. She won't fly and she may or may not have starbolts.

     
  • At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this is confusing! what will the storyline be?? and if after when the graysons die...will the series introduce the teen titans? i mean star should DEFINATLY be in the series. she would a a really FUN character XD

     
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