Time again to try to fix an adaptation. Previous attempts to figure out what went wrong and how to fix the problems include the Dungeons & Dragons movie, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, and the 1998 American Godzilla movie. This time out, the 2015 Jem and the Holograms film.
The biggest problem the 2015 Jem had was obvious – it wasn’t the cartoon. Not that it wasn’t animated; the movie only shared names with with cartoon, going in its own direction, one that the potential audience wasn’t interested in. The obvious solution is to build a time machine, go back to 1986, and prevent the cartoon from airing. Of course, doing that means there’s no reason to adapt the series as a movie, thus the film is never made, so there’s no reason to go back in time. Depending on the theory of temporal mechanics, this could destroy the universe from paradox; create two timelines, one with the cartoon, the other without; or have some grumpy man in a blue police call box step in grumbling how amateurs shouldn’t mess with the space-time continuum.
Given the complexities of time travel, the obvious solution isn’t workable. Given that the audience was expecting something like the cartoon, what could have been done? Simplest, and doable barring problems with rights, is to just adapt the first five episodes of the series as the movie, with the music and technology updated to reflect what’s possible now. The episodes, “The Beginning”, “Disaster” (aka “Setbacks”), “Kimber’s Rebellion”, “Frame Up”, and “Battle of the Bands”, are one story, each but the last ending with a cliffhanger and set up the premise well. Along with Jerrica/Jem, the Holograms, and the Misfits, there’s a corrupt corporate executive in Eric Raymond as the villain.
“The Beginning” introduces everyone, sets up the relationships, shows the need that the Starlight Foundation has, brings in the love interests, and puts Jerrica in the position of having to fight to keep control of her father’s company. Even Synergy is brought in before the first commercial break, to introduce Jem. The difficulty may lie in the updates. Holographic technology is better understood now, but miniaturization will still let Synergy use Jem’s earrings as projectors. The fashions are dated, but with the likes of Lady Gaga performing today, outrageous outfits shouldn’t be a problem. The music needs a careful hand; Jem and the Holograms should have a different sound from the Misfits. In the cartoon, the Misfits had a harsher tone in their music, with Jem being softer for the most part, as the song “Click/Clash” demonstrates. Given that the sequel hook had Kesha as Pizzazz, the difference between the two bands would happen.
The last of the first five, “Battle of the Bands”, provides a natural climax, as Jem and the Holograms face off against the Misfits in a battle of the bands that will determine who owns Starlight Music and will live in Starlight Mansion, with the added threat of the life of one of the Starlight Girls in the balance, thanks to Eric. A race against time for the final act should pump up the audience, with the added benefit that the Holograms succeed thanks to Jerrica’s thinking and actions.
Casting the above is easy – keep the same cast, just let the actors playing Jem and the Holograms get a little older. They had chemistry with each other and deserve a proper shot. Ke$ha as Pizzazz had promise, and Juliette Lewis as Erica Raymond nice flipped the villain’s gender without losing any of the sliminess of the corrupt exec.
That isn’t to say that the 2015 Jem movie is bad. Unlike the other movies featured in the Adaptation Fix-it Shop, Jem‘s biggest sin was not being what people wanted. The movie did get a number of items correct. The writers understood that while the Misfits were rivals, Eric Raymond was the villain. He used the Misfits for his own ends. The movie also remembered Eric’s thug, Zipper, who played a supporting role in the first five episodes of the cartoon. The fan videos that appeared deserves a look just for how the creative crew managed to fit them in. The Jem movie deserved better than a two-week run in theatres. It may have been better served by airing on a family programming channel instead, where the expectations of the audience who will be paying for the fare would be low to non-existent. As it stands, the movie made only half its $5 million budget, a rounding error for Universal in a year that included Jurassic World.
The 2015 Jem and the Holograms wasn’t a bad movie. It was just not what people wanted, and fixing that happens not on screen, but in marketing. Sometimes, misreading the audience leads to missteps.
Almost missed all of April, but there was news about adaptations coming in. Here is your news round up.
Sony Pictures to make live-action Robotech.
Sony now has the rights to Robotech, via Harmony Gold, and is looking to use the series as the base of a franchise. Harmony Gold seems to be still involved.
Steven Spielberg to helm Ready Player One adaptation.
Ernest Cline’s cult novel, Ready Player One has been optioned by Warner Bros, who will be working with director Steven Spielberg to make the movie. Some rights issues, mostly involving video game icons of the 80s, will need to be cleared, but Warner is hoping for a repeat of what happened with The LEGO Movie, where rights owners jumped on board.
Coach returning after 18 year hiatus.
Craig T. Nelson is coming back as the titular character in a follow-up series. Thirteen episodes have been ordered. This isn’t the only TV series making a comeback.
The reboot re-unites David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Chris Carter. The three said they would only come back if the others did as well.
Galaxy Quest Returns to TV.
Okay, technically it was never on TV. But the show in the movie was, in-universe. And thus is getting a reboot. Sort of. Metafiction weirds timelines.
Full House Returns to TV.
This, however, is simpler. Fuller House is a continuation, with Candance Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, and Andrea Barber returning to their original roles. Talks are ongoing with other members of the original cast, though John Stamos is on board as producer and will guest star.
It’s Time to Get Things (Re-)Started!
A new Muppet series to air on ABC. The new show will be aimed at an adult audience, though that’s not new for Muppets, and will take a look at their personal lives.
Archie will face his most deadly crossover yet!
Archie vs. Sharknado is a real thing. Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante has teamed up with Archie artist Dan Parent to bring the latest Archie crossover. Move aside, Punisher. Too bad, Predator. Archie has a new danger in his life.
First, A Lupin the Third live action movie has been announced! The movie will be a prequel, showing how Lupin met his crew.
Next, it’s weird where you can find an adaptation. Back while getting info for the comments about the It’s a Wonderful Life sequel, I discovered that the movie is an adaptation of a short story, “The Greatest Gift” by Philip van Doren Stern. Unlike the sheer mess of rights that It’s a Wonderful Life became, van Doren Stern properly renewed his copyright in 1971 on his story.
Moving on, here’s what I hope to do for December. There will definitely be a review, though of what, I do not know yet. I’m half-tempted to review Miracle on 34th Street because of the number of times the films has been remade; movie versions in 1955, 1959, 1973, 1994, a Broadway musical in 1963, a stage play in 2006, and a half-hour puppet version at Macy’s in New York City. For the year’s end, a look back on 2013 followed a week later by a look ahead to 2014 and beyond. Given the sheer amount of news in October and November, twice even, I won’t be short of material. That leaves one week, which I may leave as a surprise.
I’m also open to suggestions. The catch is, I need to have access to the original and the new work. I am keeping my eyes open for certain titles, either due to personal interest or because of influence. However, as mentioned above, there will be times when I run across a remake or an adaptation without realizing it. Along with It’s a Wonderful Life, I found out that Bedazzled, with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, is a remake of the 1967 film of the same name, with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. I will make a note of when I encounter the new work before the original; it could, as I mentioned previously, make a difference in how the adaptation is perceived.
Next week, back to the reviews!