15. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
Who is the best Batman? Some people say Christian Bale, others say Michael Keaton. There’s probably one misguided fool out there who says George Clooney. But a big percentage of fans out there agree, the powerful timbre of the inimitable Kevin Conroy is the greatest take on the Caped Crusader.
Batman: The Animated Series is widely regarded as one of the greatest animated programs of all time, and the definitive version of Gotham’s Dark Knight. The influence of the series cannot be overstated. When shows like Arrow and Gotham are at their best, they’re essentially live-action versions of the animated world created by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and co. all the way back in 1992.
It’s shocking, then, that this seminal superhero saga is currently unavailable on any subscription-based streaming service. Sure, episodes can be purchased for two bucks a pop on Amazon Video, but Warner Brothers is keeping way too tight of a leash on its most famous cartoon. For that matter, what about Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond? DC is in the midst of preparing a new digital streaming service (which will air original programming, including the eagerly-anticipated third season of Young Justice), but there’s no word yet as to whether any of these legendary shows might be added to the platform when it launches. Hint: they really should!
12. THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN
Before Batman: The Animated Series in the ’90s, before The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman in the ’70s, and even before Adam West‘s Batman in the ’60s, there was The Adventures of Superman.
This half-hour 1950s series starred George Reeves as the Man of Steel, and it remains a favorite among old-school comics fans for its admirable fidelity to the printed stories of the era. In the first season, written during the Golden Age of Comics, Superman went up against pinstriped-suited mobsters and their film noir molls. George Reeves shined as Clark Kent, hard-edged intrepid reporter, and when he eventually suited up as Superman, he brought an admirable physicality to the low-budget production, filling out his costume with barrel-chested gravitas and leaping out of windows with whimsical bravado.
The Adventures of Superman is required viewing for any fan of superhero media, but it’s currently unavailable on any streaming service. This is a situation which needs to be remedied – immediately.
1. MIAMI VICE
Before Miami Vice, every television show looked like Dragnet. Flat camera angles, sparse sets, old men in brown suits, and little personality. Michael Mann saw the dry state of television drama and decided to do something about it. He created Miami Vice, a cop show like no other, with film-style production values, unprecedented use of licensed music, and sexy, chic, charismatic leads in the form of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas.
Miami Vice changed the rules of television, featuring long stretches with little dialogue, letting licensed music, grand imagery, and emotional context to push the story forward. These days, pretty much every show relies on dramatic “music video sequences” to convey their stories, but Miami Vice did it first, and did it best.
The series was on Netflix for a time, but is no longer available there. The first four seasons are still on Hulu, though the fantastic fifth and final season is curiously missing from the service. Recently, the series was released on Blu ray disc, remastered in High Definition, but with the original 4:3 aspect ration intact (no needless cropping here!). This HD version of the so-called “MTV Cops” series needs to be brought over to Netflix, so the whole world can enjoy the entire Miami Vice story with the best visuals possible.