If you could classify the entertainment media in the first decade of the 21st century, I'm sure many people will find many labels. But I'm going to be the first to say it was the decade of the comic book.
Just from a monetary standpoint, the largest box office receipts have gone to comic book movies like Spider-Man and Iron Man.
But, for those who need more, I look at the success of the Harry Potter and Twilight book series and subsequent adaptations on the big screen, and I wonder if maybe it isn't comic books. Maybe it's this idea of people with super powers.
No question this embracing of comic book or comic book-like heroes has bled into the TV realm. Beyond Saturday-morning cartoons, prime-time TV has given way to people with super powers with quite a few shows now.
At this year's Golden Globes, Anna Paquin surprisingly won for her role in the HBO series True Blood. Paquin plays a Louisiana girl with telepathy who falls in love with a vampire.
But, she's not the only woman on TV with extrasensory perceptions. Patricia Arquette has psychic abilities in NBC's Medium, and Jennifer Love Hewitt can talk to the dead in CBS's Ghost Whisperer.
One of my favorite shows about people with super powers, which actually ended at the beginning of this decade, was Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I just liked the idea of a normal, everyday girl who was also an amazing female fighter.
The only thing that comes close to that now is FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. On that show, Lena Headey plays the titular character who's a great fighter but who's handier with a gun. The real fighter, however, is Summer Glau who plays Cameron, the super strong and super fast android.
Sadly, the female-centered comic books are few and far between, so TV programs that feature girl power is selfsame. Mostly, it's boys running around trying to save the day, as is the case with NBC's Heroes, which mimics the look and feel of more modern comics such as Marvel's The X-Men.
Though you want to talk about mimicry, there are two shows about "people-with-super-powers" that appear to be on parallel tracks. Both have taken the Superman idea and made it their own. One is the CW's Smallville, which doesn't hide the fact that it rips its ideas straight from the DC Comics franchise.
The other is ABC Family's Kyle XY. Its premise was a bit mysterious. It started in 2007 with the story of a teenage boy with no memory and no belly button being adopted by a suburban family in Seattle.
Over time, it was learned that the boy had special abilities, the most outstanding being advanced intelligence. What started as a robotic-like personality eventually evolved into a sweet, charming, loving and optimistic kid. Besides having a beautiful mind, the boy who came to be called Kyle started developing other abilities, super hearing, super vision, and even telekinesis.
It was assumed that Kyle was an alien, and before long, the second season in fact, Kyle could fly. However, he would accurately say he was levitating! Yes, the assumption is easy. An alien boy with super powers like flying is as easy to call Clark Kent as he is to call Kyle.
To fans of Smallville, you know Clark Kent falls in love with the sweet girl next door. Guess whom Kyle falls for? His girl's name doesn't start with the letter L, but you get the picture. Just as Clark had to hide his abilities from his girlfriend, so does Kyle.
Stylistically, Smallville and Kyle XY couldn't be more different. Smallville is more about the special effects and the action sequences. It's also more about emphasizing the themes from the comic, as they relate to bigger world ideas.
Kyle XY isn't as grandiose in purpose. It's more about emphasizing the themes of home and family life. When it began and even into its current third season, it's still about Kyle's struggle to learn the various social skills that many American teenagers have to understand.
I found it funny that in the same week, the week of Feb. 8, we saw both guys on Smallville and Kyle XY break up with their girlfriends, as well as have two people close to each of them die.
Could the two shows be taking notes off each other? Or, do these shows about "people-with-super-powers" lack original story lines, as to have inevitable overlap? Perhaps, there is no difference between these shows and ones about people without super powers. Perhaps, they're just excuses to employ stuntmen. I feel like the writing and acting feels fresh enough, although I can't help but point out all the similarities that are inherent. These shows really are just soap operas for nerds and geeks.