By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist March 20, 2012 at 1:03PM
Batman and "The Dark Knight" aside, D.C. Comics haven't had much joy on the big screen, with last year's "Green Lantern" being only the latest in a series of misfires, although they're hopeful that next year's "Man of Steel" will revive Superman. We say revive, but actually the superpowered Kryptonian only last year wrapped up a popular ten-year run with the TV series "Smallville."
While that show was a long-running hit, they've again not had much success in moving it beyond the single character: Batman spin-off "Birds of Prey" lasted a single season, "Human Target" didn't quite make it, and last year's "Wonder Woman" never made it beyond a pilot. But that doesn't mean they're done trying, as the CW is getting ready to shoot a pilot for "Arrow," a TV series based on the popular hero and Justice League member Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, and just debuted the first look at the central character, to be played by Canadian actor Stephen Amell ("The Vampire Diaries," "Private Practice").
Depicting the character as a billionaire playboy returning from a five-year exile on a desert island to fight crime with his trusty bow and arrow, "Smallville" helmer David Nutter is directing the pilot, while Oscar-winning designer Coleen Atwood has done Green Arrow's costume for the show. Which, to be honest, just looks like Robin Hood. If all this sounds good to you, do bear in mind that the pilot is co-written by Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, who were both writers on "Green Lantern," so you should probably keep your optimism in check. [Deadline]
Elsewhere in the TV world, two Brit actors who've become familiar faces in Hollywood have both landed new TV gigs. Idris Elba become known in the U.S. for his character Stringer Bell on "The Wire," and won acclaim recently for starring in the gonzo detective series "Luther," and while he's in demand for blockbusters like "Prometheus" and "Pacific Rim," he's not abandoning TV altogether: the actor is circling a new miniseries entitled "Ascension."
Based on an idea by producer Vivek J. Tiwary (the upcoming "American Idiot"), and set to be penned by comics legend Warren Ellis ("Transmetropolitan," "Red"), it's an ambitious-sounding tale which would see Elba play both Egyptian chancellor, high priest, architect, physician and engineer Imhotep in a strand set in the 27th century BC, and an astronomer in the near future. Not exactly "Downton Abbey," then. No news as yet on when and where it might air. [Deadline]
Matthew Macfayden isn't quite as omnipresent as Elba, but he's been a busy bee since his big-screen breakthrough as Mr. Darcy opposite Keira Knightley's Lizzy Bennett in "Pride & Prejudice." The actor has cropped up in films from "Frost/Nixon" and "Robin Hood" to "The Three Musketeers" and the upcoming "Anna Karenina," but he's going back to TV quite soon for the BBC's 8-part series "Ripper Street," a period crime drama in which he'll play the head of a group of detectives in 1899 East London tracking serial killers. Jerome Flynn ("Game Of Thrones") and MyAnna Buring ("Kill List") also star, and it'll air on BBC America in the fall. [Deadline]
Meanwhile, with cable drama the toast of the critical town, one imminently-arriving show has been given the vote of confidence by its network, with Starz renewing period crime tale "Magic City" before the first episode has even aired (it debuts April 6th). The show stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Watchmen") as a Miami hotel boss in the 1960s, with Olga Kurylenko as his wife and Danny Huston as a mob boss. The fledgling network are clearly high on the series, as they'll be previewing the first three episodes on various platforms, before the show starts airing officially on April 6th, and an early pick-up only emphasizes that. It's backfired on them before, though: they did the same with the Kelsey Grammer drama "Boss," only for the show to 1) Get really terrible, really fast, and 2) to die in the ratings. Hopefully neither will happen in this case. [Deadline]
In unwanted sequel news, "Home Alone" is getting another installment which, like 2002's "Home Alone 4: Taking Back The House" (no, we didn't know it existed either), will go straight to TV, airing on ABC Family this Christmas. The new film, entitled "Home Alone 5: Alone In The Dark" will star Christian Martyn as the young boy fending off burglars, in this case Malcolm McDowell and Debi Mazar. Also starring are Ed Asner and Jodelle Ferland ("Tideland"), while Peter Hewitt ("Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey," "Garfield") is directing. [Deadline]
Finally, the buzz continues to grow around Lena Dunham's HBO series "Girls" which received a rapturous reception at SXSW last week where the first three episodes unspooled. A look at a trio of 20-something women carving out their lives and careers in Manhattan, this is pretty much the anti-"Sex And The City." The "Tiny Furniture" creator wrote, directed and stars in the series, which has the added stamp of Judd Apatow on it as a producer. The series kicks off on April 15th and this new poster has arrived to keep stoking the fires. But holy hell, it took us a moment to locate Lena Dunham on there -- there is a serious disconnect between the frumpy character shown in the teasers and the makeover model on this one sheet. As much as we love HBO, they missed the mark here. [Facebook]