Superman and Batman sound like a pretty solid punch, but the details of that combination somewhat negate the CW’s new Tuesday lineup, with the third season of “Superman & Lois” and new Dark Knight-adjacent drama, ” Gotham Knights”. Specifically, the former doesn’t fly quite as high this time around, while the latter plays too much like a “Riverdale” wannabe.
Joining a long list of productions peripherally related to the Caped Crusader (“Gotham”, “Titans”, “Pennyworth” and “Batwoman” among them), “Gotham Knights” begins with the provocative premise that Batman/Bruce Wayne has been murdered , leaving his adopted son, Turner Hayes (Oscar Morgan), to try to find out who is responsible.
Yet Turner wasn’t really introduced to the family’s bat business, with one of his classmates, Carrie Kelley (Navia Robinson), having acted as Batman’s sidekick, Robin. The Joker’s short-tempered daughter, Duela (Olivia Rose Keegan), is also dragged into this de facto Scooby team, along with a pair of accomplished thieving siblings, Harper (Fallon Smythe) and Cullen Row (Tyler DiChiara).
Circumstances turn them all into fugitives, and there is much bickering and bickering between them, with Duela teasingly referring to Turner as “Bat-brat”. As for the serialized mystery, the common thread involves the shadowy criminal enterprise known as the Court of Owls, whose nefarious deeds make the teenage contingent appear to be in over their heads.
The atmosphere certainly oozes the dark vision of a corrupt, dystopian Gotham we’ve come to know, but it loses a lot by marrying that with a “Gossip Girl” sensibility (choose your version). Also, if you have any questions about all of the show’s missing parents, get in line.
“Gotham Knights” is watchable for committed fans of the genre or DC finalists, but it mostly feels like another test of the franchise’s coattails (or capes). Primarily, the show fuels the perception that despite the character’s durability, it’s possible to dive into the Batcave one too many times.
As for “Superman & Lois,” what had been a bright spot for The CW is starting its season slowly, with an uninspired serialized menace and a lot of emphasis on juggling relationships between the main cast.
The show also introduces a more grounded crisis for the Kents, Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch), along with their teenage sons, Michael Bishop taking on the role of Jonathan (after Jordan Elsass chooses to leave the show) and Alex Garfin returning as Jordan.
Obviously, the formula for these CW series relies on emphasizing aspects of the soap opera (who knew sleepy little Smallville was such a hotbed of hormones?), because despite the impressive special effects for television, it’s not like they’re becoming producer Greg Berlanti and his teams let loose with a budget the size of Zack Snyder.
Yet even taking that into account, “Superman & Lois” feels slower, as if the producers were scrambling to pair characters in unexpected but not particularly interesting ways, including the throwaway subplots surrounding Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui ), who is now aware of Clark’s secret and his marital problems.
Part of “Superman’s” mission will be to help launch “Gotham Knights,” while the two face the more existential threat of The CW changing its programming profile – and its reliance on DC titles (like CNN , a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery) – under new ownership.
It’s not exactly a bad combination, but rather the kind of team that feels less brave and daring than just familiar and played.
“Superman & Lois” and “Gotham Knights” air March 14 at 8 and 9 p.m. ET on The CW.