CBS is looking to get back into the DC Comics game. This was the original home to ‘Supergirl’ which launched in 2015, but after a strong start, the show lagged in ratings. Luckily, CBS is a partial owner of The CW, and rather than cancel ‘Supergirl’, it was sent over to join ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’ on the smaller, younger-skewing network.
It has been revealed that CBS is developing a pilot for ‘The Secret Six’, which “follows six morally ambiguous strangers, each with their own unique specialties and secret pasts. They are brought together by an enigmatic figure who blackmails them into working as a team to expose the corruption of the corporate and political elite.” Executive producers will be Bill Lawrence (‘Scrubs’), Jeff Ingold and Rick Muirragui (‘Suits’), with Muirragui writing the pilot’s script. The series will come from Warner Bros. Television and Doozer Productions.
‘The Sinister Six’ was a short-lived comic that ran from 1968-69, around the time that James Bond, ‘Mission: Impossible’, ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’, and others thrived during the public’s fascination with the world of spies. This group consisted of six characters who each had a specialty, like disguise, science, escape, etc. But each hid a dark secret… a secret that was in danger of being exposed by the mysterious Mockingbird unless they embarked on dangerous missions.
The twist is that one of the Six was lying and was secretly the Mockingbird! Alas, the series ended without ever revealing that secret. (…Oh, I just got it.)
That wasn’t revealed until 20 years later when a new version was assembled in the pages of ‘Action Comics Weekly’. It turns out that scientist August Durant was the Mockingbird. He assembled a brand new team, with some modern improvements like cybernetic limbs, and such. In a twist, this entire new team, including Durant, were killed in the second issue of their feature. Another original member, Carlo di Reinzi, the magician/escape artist, assumed the role of Mockingbird and gathered a new new team. But the idea didn’t catch on and this incarnation vanished by the end of 1988, the same year it debuted.
In 2005, DC and writer Gail Simone revived the name ‘Secret Six’ and the concept of the Mockingbird but built the team out of various supervillains, including Catman, Deadshot, Cheshire, Rag Doll, and Scandal Savage. It was later revealed that Lex Luthor was this group’s Mockingbird. Due to the high body count, this team’s roster tended to fluctuate. Some characters that have been members include Bane, Black Alice, Giganta, Harley Quinn, Jeannette, King Shark, Knockout, and the Mad Hatter.
That version would be a lot harder to make work on TV since so many of these characters are tied to other characters appearing on other shows (on different networks) or movies. But it may still be doable if they opt to use lesser-known characters.
But the original blackmail concept seems better suited, not just for TV in general, but CBS in particular. The network has had amazing success with procedural dramas (‘NCIS’, ‘CSI’) and this concept could easily fit that formula. Then again, supervillains are more colorful…