Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Last week, I summarized the findings of the first ten weeks of reviewing adaptations/reboots/remakes (ARR, mateys). This week, in part to keep the length of the last week's entry a readable length and in part to build up my buffer, I'll be applying the findings to two different franchises.

First up, Jem and the Holograms. Surprisingly, this 1980s cartoon, which lasted three seasons, has not been remade, rebooted, or adapted. Considering that GI Joe had a movie and at least two cartoons and a number of comics, that Masters of the Universe had a movie and a reboot cartoon, and My Little Pony has been brought back in the form of new toys and a new series, someone has missed an opportunity.

A quick brainstorm (done on the bus, mainly) leads me to the following possibilities for an ARR:
– remake the cartoon as a new cartoon, same characters, just in the Teens instead of the 80s,
– reboot the cartoon, continuing from where it left off and ignore or even lampshade the new musical style and outfits, updating Synergy with more modern-futuristic tech,
– turn Jem and the Holograms into a virtual idol (since holograms are now doing such in Japan already), making the group into a real pop band,
– adapt the cartoon into a feature film, similar to /Spice World/ and /Josee & the Pussycats/,
– create a feature film that acknowledges the passage of time since the end of the cartoon, in a cross between rebooting and remaking, with a dash of adapting.

From the above list, the easiest is the first option. My preference, if I had a say, is the last option. It'd allow me to get some digs in at the music industry without taking swipes at certain celebrities' predicaments, self-imposed or otherwise. Jerrica would now be in charge of her studio, and has retired from performing. For some reason, she isn't legally able to perform, either as herself or as Jem. However, she can still write songs and misses being with her former bandmates and friends, who have scattered to the four winds after the Holograms broke up. Still, she feels that she has something she has to say, through song, and realizes that, while she can't perform, there's nothing preventing her from using a virtual idol to be her proxy. That's right, Synergy no longer transforms Jerrica into Jem; Synergy *is* Jem.

(Aside: This goes back to a discussion I had with Steve about Virtual Stars. If anything can launch a Virtual Star's career, it'll be this role. However, the movie can't focus on the Virtual Star. The movie is called Jem & the Holograms. We have to see the group, and Jerrica was the core of the original and should remain the focus.)

The movie would go on to show Jerrica searching for musicians for the New Holograms. One should be related to the lead of the Misfits, just to bring them into the movie. A new antagonist, a rival girl band, would be introduced. The musical styles of the New Holograms and their rivals should be distinct. As the New Holograms prepare for a battle of the bands, the original Holograms catch wind of what's happening and drop in to assist, setting aside old arguments for the sake of friendship. Evenutally, the climactic battle of the bands happens. Win or lose, the New Holograms remain together. At the end, though, the original Holograms sit down with Jerrica and play one of their classic songs as an acoustic, for their ears only.

Ideally, merchandising will occur. (Thanks, Rob, for mentioning this in your "Launch or Be Lunch" series.) The obvious CD/iTunes release, featuring songs performed in the movie, including the acoustic at the end, is obvious. Dolls (or action figures, or both!) of the New Holograms can be made. Hopefully, legal issues with the Virtual Star can be ironed out beforehand. (The Virtual Star's creative team may later want to produce merchandise of herself, too, so it'd be helpful to make sure that the Jem doll doesn't prevent a series of VS dolls, plushies, statuettes, and action figures.)

What could possibly go wrong? Well, lots. First, the above? Unless someone at Hasbro is feeling generous and adds me to the creative team for the movie, I'm better off writing that as a fanfic. Add to that, I would need to take a crash course in script writing (or have a few examples to work from or an assistant with a lot of patience). Then there's my lack of knowledge of the original cartoon; I want to respect the original, but without knowing who the characters are, I might as well create my own story with my own characters at this point. I will wind up with something that is Jem in name only. However, if I didn't care, well, I could have that outline easily expanded.

My next example is something I am far more familar with, being the creator. Back in 2000, I worked at an ISP as the phone firewall (read: tech support) for the DSL service. After a few months of working, I really wished that someone had created BttH over TCP/IP (that is, Boot to the Head over TCP/IP). Many callers really really needed one. It was a stressful job that killed my life and drained my soul. During this time, one way to combat the urge to smack people upside the head was to write about a character who would do just that. Subject 13 was born; a text-based comic featuring a 17 year old girl with a foul mouth and short temper who got the power to, well, hit people hard. After my contract wasn't renewed (and boy did that feel good a few hours later), I continued working on the storyline, changed the location, and forced the heroine to mature a little.

The first thing I have to figure out is format. The obvious format change is to make /Subject 13/ a comic; the premise involves super-heroes and a villainous organization that fits in alongside Marvel's Hellfire Club. (In fact, the S13-verse, as I sometimes refer to it, has expanded through various other projects to include a Teen Titans-like group, two powered armour users like Iron Man, and a foundation similar to FLAG from Knight Rider and the various Waybe charities from Batman. I have put a lot, possibly too much, thought into the setting.) Since super-heroics were the main thrust of the series, a comic is a perfect choice. The first "issue" could be easily compressed into three or four pages, showing how the main character, whose nickname is Nasty, got her powers and how she deals with the day to day. However, with Nasty's foul mouth and being in her own setting, the Big Two (Marvel and DC) are out (though DC's Vertigo line might accept her). Smaller, edgier companies are a possbility, as are manga-style lines from North American publishers. Or, as another possibility, Subject 13 could become a webcomic and not have to worry about the main character's vocabulary. The main problem, though, is my drawing skills. Specifically, the lack thereof.

In my wildest dreams, I could see the series being made into a TV show. Again, the big problem is the foul language. Too spicy for regular TV, and not enough sex and nudity for HBO. Of course, I could try turning the first arc into a movie, but I'd run into execs wanting a PG-13 movie to maximize the potential audience and the MPAA rating anything with excessive swearing (and Nasty is excessive) as an R. So, a proper movie is out, not without changing the main character too much. Animated, again, language, though a late night slot on a specialty channel could avoid the language issue. (And I could get my dream casting of Ricardo Montalban as the potentially recurring character, El Diablo Verde, a professional super-powered hitman. Really, when I was writing him, suddenly I heard Montalban's voice saying his lines.)

(Of course, I could just compile the issues into a book, either through traditional publishing or electronically. But, well, that means the example isn't an ARR. Still, not a bad idea. ^_^)

What could go wrong? As the original creator, I have a stake in seeing that the adaptation works. However, my lack of drawing skills and lack of experience in the business end of the entertainment industry are huge drawbacks. However, if I can find a willing artist, one who can work to a schedule so that we can build a proper buffer (me with writing, the artist with drawing) and find people with the right skills to build a webcomic site (and I do have the right contacts who can do that, thanks to previous experience running a convention), adapting Subject 13 as a webcomic seems to be the best idea. If there's enough of a following, a release of compiled strips, original stories not featured on the site, even an e-book of a NaNoWriMo story featuring Nasty and two other characters from the S13-verse are future possibilities.

Next time, a look into my mind. Be afraid.

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