CBS Picks Up “Supergirl” TV Series

Promo Art for CBS’ “Supergirl” TV Series

The Supergirl TV series has been picked up by CBS!

Supergirl, Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler’s drama based on the DC female superhero, has landed at CBS with a series commitment. The deal closed last night, a day after the project was taken out to the broadcast networks on Wednesday. I hear the size of commitment eclipses the series commitment DC Batman drama Gotham got at Fox last fall. Warner Bros. TV is producing with studio-based Berlanti Prods.

CBS seems like a strange network for this show, but being on a major network could make for a series with broad appeal and will bring some major name recognition to Supergirl, which are good things in my book. Everything about the pitch sounds great to me.

Unlike WBTV’s long-running Superman series Smallville, which focused on the superhero’s journey up to acquiring the powers and becoming Superman, Supergirl starts with Kara beginning to use her abilities.

Yes! This is in line with Berlanti’s Arrow and The Flash, which get right to the superheroey goodness. (I’ve given Arrow a hard time on Twitter, but I’ve started watching it and I’m enjoying it more than I expected. And I loved the Flash pilot.) I expect a fun, adventure-filled pilot for this show.

Here’s the official series pitch:

Born on the planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she’s been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin. But now at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.

Love it. Sign me up. She’s young enough to still be bright-eyed and enthusiastic, but just mature enough to be independent, self-assured and not in anyone’s shadow. The best part is that we’ll skip over the angst and loss of her home planet that the comics have been so focused on and start off pretty much like Lois & Clark, as opposed to Smallville. Aging her up from a teenager won’t make everyone happy, and I think that’s valid, but Supergirl as a young adult is something I really want to see. OK, yes, starting her off in her early 20’s makes being called Supergirl reallly awkward. I’m going to handwave that because a) a Supergirl TV show! and b) Bronze Age ‘Career Supergirl’ is one of my favourite time periods. Still, if we’re lucky enough to get a long run, it will be hard to explain her still being called Supergirl in her late twenties!

Berlanti and Adler will write the script and executive produce with Berlanti Prods.’ Sarah Schechter. Also closely involved in the development of the project has been DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns.

While CBS may look as a surprising home for a younger-skewing superhero drama, it was the only broadcast network without a comic book series. Additionally, CBS has been making a push in female-lead dramas with Extant, Madam Secretary and CSI: Cyber joining staple The Good Wife.

There will be five DC/WBTV series on the air this coming season: Gotham on Fox, the CW’s Arrow, The Flash and iZombie on the CW, and Constantine on NBC. With the Supergirl deal, WBTV has successfully targeted every available broadcast network as ABC is considered off-limits because of its corporate ties with Marvel, producer of its series Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter.

Supergirl expands Berlanti’s superhero series footprint. He also is behind popular CW drama Arrow and its upcoming offshoot The Flash. Additionally, Berlanti has new NBC crime dramedy The Mysteries Of Laura, which opened well on Wednesday.

So not only has this series been picked up by a major network based on the strength of the pilot script, skipping the stage of shopping around a pilot, but CBS has enough faith in the project to give it what Deadline calls a sizable commitment compared to Gotham (which has a 16-episode first season order). That means a full 22-episode season. Wow. I did not expect that.

Edited to add: clarifies what this means:

CBS landed it after agreeing to a so-called series commitment, which means the network will have to pay Warners a massive financial penalty if it opts to back out of Supergirl (This makes it very likely the show will end up on the air, though nothing’s ever for sure at CBS, as the producers of How I Met Your Dad can attest).

Executive producer Sarah Schechter’s tweet gives me a good feeling about this.

One possible downside to being on CBS is that Supergirl won’t be able to share in the bigger shared universe of Arrow and The Flash. That could have been fun. However that fits with how characters have historically worked in the DC universe, where characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc. were originally created to exist within their own self-encapsulated universes which all had a very different feel. A big advantage is that the show will have a bigger budget on CBS than it would have on The CW, which hopefully will mean lots of great looking superpower special effects. I just hope the series will be able to generate the higher level of viewership expected by a big network.

I’m loving the promo image (above) being used for this announcement. It evokes a classic 1980s Superman/Supergirl feel that has been absent in the (main continuity) comics for a long time. This is the Supergirl I want to see on TV!