With Smallville headed to its 10th season, it's time to ask the question that we've been wondering since day one: Why haven't producers tried to make lightning strike a second time, with the most obvious other candidate - Wonder Woman?
I know: You all thought I was going to say "Batman," didn't you? But considering that Smallville was the product of a failed pitch for a show called Bruce Wayne - which would've followed a teenage Bruce on his travels around the world training to become the future Dark Knight - our bat-eared friend has long been considered off-limits for this kind of treatment, sadly (The pitch, which was apparently loved by television executives, was rumored to have been killed by Warners executives convinced there was still cinematic life left in the character. Considering that Christopher Nolan came on board soon after this decision, history has pretty much proven them right, but I can't help but wish we'd gotten Bruce Wayne instead of Smallville. For the curious amongst you, Smallville actually got its name from one of the potential episodes mentioned in the Wayne pitch, which would've seen the teenage Wayne visit the small midwestern town and meet a young Clark Kent. And now you know). However, despite numerous rumors and attempts to the contrary, no such movie boundaries surround Wonder Woman, which makes us wonder (no pun intended), where's her show?
It's not as if Warners haven't given thought to trying to create a second Smallville; besides the failed Aquaman pilot Mercy Reef, preparatory work was said to be underway for both a Green Arrow spin-off and Robin-centric The Graysons. But, besides the apparent lunacy of trying to base shows around some of DC Comics, uh, less-charismatic creations (Seriously, Aquaman?), there's something about each of these proposed shows that strikes me as a little odd: They're all about male characters. Is the legacy of Buffy The Vampire Slayer so strong that it's scared the CW off any new genre adventure shows centered around female leads, or is this just laziness ("Hey, Smallville is all about a guy...") or nerd-stereotyping ("Only men read comic books...") at work? Then again, given the failure of Birds of Prey, you could almost forgive any of those three ways of thinking; it's easier, after all, that accepting that Birds failed because it just wasn't that good.
A Smallville-esque take on Wonder Woman seems like such a no-brainer that I can't believe it's not been attempted or, at least, discussed before. Besides the female lead aspect - Hello, Buffy mix of eye candy and positive role model who will kick the ass of any and all characters who present their derrieres for the taking - there're two other important factors that make it such a good idea. Firstly, it's Wonder Woman; much more iconic than Green Arrow, Aquaman or, arguably, even Robin, but at the same time, enough of a clean slate for most of the public (whose primary exposure to the character is either licensing, cartoons or, dependent on their age, the Lynda Carter series from the '70s) that she brings a freedom from expectation that Superman or Batman can't. And secondly, the Wonder Woman mythology is so rich with story potential that it'd take a concerted effort to make a dull show. Consider: She's an innocent pacifist raised on an island removed from reality to be the perfect warrior, discovering civilization - and, of course, men - for the first time. Even before you bring in her ties to Greek mythology or her superpowers, that's still a strong enough basis to wrap a series around.
(Of course, Wonder Woman doesn't necessarily have a Lex Luthor figure that everyone knows and recognizes as her archetypal nemesis, but that's not necessarily a problem; it allows the creators to offer up various big bads for different seasons, or different episodes, without running into the feeling of loss that Smallville felt when Lex was written out; even Zod, bless his maniacal heart, is a weak replacement.)
Smallville's tenth year is impressive, but it was looking a bit long in the tooth as it headed into its ninth; the show can't continue much longer before it makes Clark look as if he's actively trying to put off getting into the tights and cape that we all desperately want him to assume, even as the CW wants to keep their hit going as long as possible. The best solution for everyone would be to come up with a replacement that offers the same pop cultural impact and potential, and a Wonder Woman series feels like the most obvious way to make that happen. So... why are we still waiting?