Aquaman is a hit--and this time iTunes, not Vincent Chase, can take credit.
The TV pilot based on the all-wet DC Comics superhero was one of the iTunes Music Store's most-played clips Tuesday, the same day the rejected series became available for download on the online music/video purveyor.
Aquaman, developed for the outgoing WB, and rejected by the incoming CW, was the biggest curiosity piece brought to iTunes as part of a new deal between the Apple Computer service and Warner Bros.
Episodes of other "classic hit" (read: long-dead) Warner shows bowing Tuesday on iTunes: Friends, Babylon 5, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons. Sketches of the still-running MADTv also were available. All the clips were priced at $1.99 a download.
According to Apple, the iTunes video library now includes more than 9,000 music videos, Pixar and Disney short films, and TV shows--from Desperate Housewives to Hannah Montana.
By Tuesday afternoon, the 41-minute Aquaman pilot was number one on iTunes' rankings of its top TV shows.
The resurfacing comes in the wake of Nobody's Watching, a rejected WB comedy pilot, being revived by NBC on the strength of that show's YouTube buzz.
Aquaman, starring former soap star Justin Hartley as A.C. Curry, a young man with "amazing aquatic abilities," looked like a lock for a prime-time shot when the WB set about casting the pilot in late 2005. Developed as a companion to the WB's Clark Kent-led Smallville, Aquaman would share the same creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the same DC ancestry, and the same low-key superhero ethos, i.e., superpowers good, super-costume and super-nickname bad.
Aquaman also had Entourage going for it. The HBO comedy made the making of an Aquaman movie the centerpiece of its second season. (Conveniently, HBO is a corporate cousin of Warners and DC.) On the show, Vincent Chase, the resident heartthrob played by Adrian Grenier, starred, and James Cameron, played by James Cameron, directed.
As Entourage moved into its third season this summer, its Aquaman broke Spider-Man's opening-weekend box-office record.
At the same time, however, the real-world Aquaman project was dead--washed ashore when the WB folded, and left behind when the CW, an amalgam of WB and UPN shows, launched.
In a recent interview with WizardUniverse.com, Gough said the reasons for the CW snub are "a mystery." It wasn't the pilot's fault, he said.
"We're really proud of the pilot," Gough told the Website. "I think it definitely puts Aquaman in a modern context, and he's not lame."
Gough said he hoped fans would get to see the show. Presumably, the writer-producer was talking about something like the iTunes deal--and not the unauthorized clips that had popped up on the Web in recent months.
In the end, all is not lost for Aquaman--and especially not for Aquaman. Hartley will play another character from the DC universe, Oliver Queen (aka the Green Arrow), on the upcoming season of the CW-bound Smallville.
Vincent Chase, meanwhile, could use another job.