After super-producer and DC television series godfather, Greg Berlanti wrote a pitch for a television series centering around lesser-known DC Comics superhero, Black Lightning, and allowed any network to pick the hopeful series up last year, FOX quickly snatched it up with a pilot production commitment, as a contender for their 2017-2018 primetime programming lineup. Today however, word has come down that FOX has opted not to move ahead with Black Lightning, according to separate scoops broken by Variety and EW, after deciding that there’s just no room in their 2017-2018 schedule for another DC Comics series.
FOX currently has two DC Comics shows in their primetime schedule, those being Batman prequel series, Gotham, and Vertigo/DC graphic novel-inspired Lucifer. Both shows air on FOX’s current Monday night drama bloc, and both are currently on extended hiatus until later in Spring, to accommodate freshman dramas, 24: Legacy and APB in their timeslots for those shows’ Season One runs. Considering that FOX’s current primetime schedule is one of the most over-crowded on network television at present, to the point where freshman shows are temporarily stealing the timeslots of successful veteran shows like Gotham and Lucifer, it’s unsurprising that FOX ultimately decided there was no room for Black Lightning. The fact that FOX is also working hard at getting an X-Men spin-off series done in collaboration with DC’s main rival, Marvel onto their schedule for the 2017-2018 season is likely also a key reason why Black Lightning was ultimately dropped by the network.
Fortunately, if you’re invested in Black Lightning making it to primetime, there’s some good news. The pitch isn’t quite dead, as EW has confirmed rumblings out of Variety that rival network, The CW, Berlanti’s most frequent stomping grounds, is now attempting to pick up Black Lightning for the 2017-2018 season, having given a pilot order of their own. Surprise. This mirrors the revised strategy for another of Berlanti’s current DC Comics-inspired shows, specifically Supergirl, which aired its first season on CBS, though was moved to The CW afterward, where it has enjoyed greater success and acclaim.
If Black Lightning is picked up to series on The CW, it will join four other DC Comics shows currently on the network (putting aside the Vertigo/DC graphic novel-inspired iZombie, which doesn’t start its latest season until April), those being Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and naturally, Supergirl, all of which were also developed by Berlanti, and all of which have already been renewed in advance for new seasons in the 2017-2018 programming lineup. Seeing as Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow all take place in the same shared universe, with Supergirl operating in a nearby parallel universe that has convenient access back and forth for crossovers, it’s also very likely that, should Black Lightning get the green light for next season, it will take place on either the ‘Earth-1’ universe of Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, or the ‘Earth-38’ universe of Supergirl. The series being a spin-off of Supergirl that takes place on Earth-38 is especially likely, considering that lead character, Jefferson Pierce frequently operates out of Superman’s home, Metropolis in DC Comics lore.
We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the continued development of Black Lightning, so keep charging up Eggplante for all major news and updates on this, and other DC Universe-inspired television shows.