Movies aren’t the only medium that adapts. Television will adapt, remake, and reboot, too, to varying degrees of success. Genres abound on TV, from soap operas – daytime and nighttime – to police procedurals, from sitcoms to action-adventure, adding to the feeling of familiarity. The nature of television has changed over the past few decades. Where once viewers had a choice of three or four stations, there are several hundred options, with channels for every niche. This change means that programming for the lowest common denominator means that’s the only denomination that is watching. Still, with the sheer amount of competition for eyes, not helped by the infinite channels available on the Internet, studios and networks are looking for anything that will let them sell ad time. Remakes of memorable shows is one way to get viewers, at least for the first episode.
This season, the 2016-2017 season, is seeing a number of adaptions, including at least two shows based on movies – Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon. Also premiering is a remake of the Richard Dean Anderson series, MacGuyver. The original series ran for seven seasons, featuring Anderson as the title character, capable of creating solutions out of anything on hand, to the point where creative solutions are known as MacGuyvering. Anderson’s MacGuyver prefered the more peaceful solution over easy violence. MacGuyver used guns a total of two times over the seven season run; once was a rifle set to shoot into the ground, with each bounce due to recoil resulting in another trigger pull, and once to use a heavy revolver as a wrench.
Mac worked for the Phoenix Foundation, run by Pete Thornton, played by Dana Elcar. Pete was nominally Mac’s boss, but the relationship was more friendship than anything else. Mac’s pilot friend Jack Dalton, played by Bruce McGill, wasn’t part of the Foundation, but appeared often. Jack was more likely to get Mac involved in existing trouble, often triggering Mac’s acrophobia. Other recurring characters include budding actress Penny Parker, played by Teri Hatcher, and Mac’s nemesis Murdoc, played by Michael Des Barres. A typical epsiode of MacGuyver dropped Mac into a situation, usually an investigation, with several opportunities to jury-rig a solution with whatever is on hand. The show was light entertainment, with the added draw of viewers trying to figure out what Mac would do with the materials on hand, with Anderson narrating the action. In the first season, the pre-credits teaser, called the opening gambit, was often written by Dalek creator Terry Nation.
The new MacGuyver debuted September 23 and is a remake of the original instead of a continuation. However, Lee David Zlotoff, creator of the original MacGuyver, is on board as an executive producer, with Henry Winkler returning as another. The new Mac, played by Lucas Till, still works for Thornton, Patricia Thornton, played by Sandrine Holt. The pilot begins with Thornton as the head of the Department of External Services, one of the myriad intelligence agencies in the US. Mac is part of a team with Jack Dalton, now played by George Eads, and Nikki Carpenter, played by Tracy Spiridakos. Over the course of the episode, Nikki is replaced by the new character, hacker Riley Davis, played by Tristin Mays, and the DXS becomes the Phoenix Foundation.
With just one episode, it’s too soon to do a proper analysis of the series. It takes time for a show to find its legs as actors figure out their roles. However, first impressions do happen. Casting is tough; Richard Dean Anderson’s Mac is iconic; Lucas Till has big shoes to fill. Helping, though, is that he can pass as a young MacGuyver, even taking into account the difference in hairstyles between 1985 and 2016. The new Mac still prefers a peaceful solution, eschewing guns, and still creates jury-rigged solutions on the fly. With the advances in electronics and computers over the past thirty years, there are new ways to MacGuyver a solution to a tough problem. The big change is in the approach. Mac now has a team instead of working solo, and Jack is now part of that team. Jack is also is the heavy on the team, as likely to pull out a gun and shoot as the opposition is, in contrast to Mac. Patricia Thornton is less buddy-buddy with Mac than Pete Thornton was but is still sympathetic.
The new MacGuyver still needs a few episodes to get comfortable in its own skin. There is a lot of baggage from the original that just can’t be hidden, such as Mac’s first name. Once a secret kept until near the end of the series, the name is known well enough by the potential audience that keeping it hidden would just be awkward. However, the show has potential once it settles in. Lucas Till isn’t Richard Dean Anderson, nor should he try to be him. The new Mac needs to be his own person, informed by the original but not a carbon copy, especially given the thirty year difference between the two series. The pilot of the new MacGuyver did feel like a first season episode of the original, and has potential. The new show needs to balance the legacy of the original while still being its own series.
The dam broke. News just keeps flowing, with nothing outside consideration. Let’s get started on the March news roundup.
Catan TV and movie rights purchased.
Gail Katz, producer of /The Perfect Storm/, has bought the rights to the board game, The Settlers of Catan. While the purchasing of rights is just the first of many steps to get a movie or TV series made, it’s not a guarentee. Catan also has the interesting problem of having no set plot. Instead, players are in competition to settle the land of Catan, but may also trade with each other. The trading is the source of endless “wood for sheep” jokes amongst the game’s players.
Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar becoming TV series.
Starlin, creator of Guardians of the Galaxy, will also be the executive producer of the TV series. /Dreadstar/ will follow Vanth Dreadstar, sole surviror of the Milky Way galaxy, as he tries to end an war between two empires. No casting has been announced.
Fox greenlights Sandman spinoff.
Lucifer, a spinoff of Sandman, has been ordered by Fox. The original Lucifer had the lord of Hell giving up the title and moving to Earth to run a piano bar while interacting with other religious figures. The Fox series, though, has Lucifer assisting the Los Angeles police department in solving crimes.
New Alien movie to be directed by Neill Blomkamp.
Blomkamp, who directed /District 9/, has a deal with Fox to film a new /Alien/ movie. This film is separate from Ridley Scott’s Prometheus 2. Blomkamp’s movie will be a sequel to Aliens, and will bring back Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.
EL James to write script for 50 Shades sequel.
James, who wrote the 50 Shades trilogy, is exerting ownership and control and will be the scriptwriter for the next movie in the series. The sequel may be delayed as a result; James has not written a script before and the Valentine’s Day 2016 release date may not be possible. The sequel also needs a new director; Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be back after numerous fights with James on set during the filming.
MacGuyver may be getting a reboot TV series.
Lee Zlotoff, the creator of the original MacGuyver TV series, is working with the National Academy of Engineers on a crowdsourcing competition to find the next MacGuyver. The challenge – the new character must be a woman, who doesn’t necessarily need to be named MacGuyver. The prize is $5000 and working with a Hollywood producer to develop the script.
Netflix to make new Inspector Gadget, Danger Mouse series.
Netflix is becoming the newest source for series. Besides the Marvel offerings, Netflix will be adding animation to the lineup. First, Inspector Gadget, a 26-episode reboot of the classic cartoon, will start in March in the US and in other countries later. A revival of Danger Mouse, will follow.
Not to be outdone, Disney brings back Duck Tales.
Duck Tales, a staple of the late 80s and early 90s, is returning with new episodes on Disney XD in 2017. The same characters from the original will be in the new show.
The Search for More Money may become a reality.
Mel Brooks has said he wants to make Spaceballs: The Search for More Money. Nothing is confirmed, but the idea is to have the sequel come out after Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination may be adapted in near future.
Paramount Pictures may be signing a deal the lead the way to a movie adaptation of the novel. The novel’s been in development hell for twenty years, with Richard Gere and Paul W.S. Anderson being attached to the project. Talks are still early, though.
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl getting remade.
Taking the titular roles are Grace Helbigg and Dana Hart, both of whom are known through their work on YouTube. The original Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was a 1976 Sid and Marty Krofft series and starred a pre-Days of Our Lives Deidre Hall.
Adventure Time to become feature film.
Cartoon Networks’ Adventure Time is in development for an animated film. Chris McKay and Roy Lee, producers of The LEGO Movie and the upcoming The LEGO Batman Movie will produce the film.
John Barrowman to develop project from Heavy Metal.
Barrowman, known for his role of Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and Torchwood, will produce and star in The 49th Key, a miniseries based on a story by Erika Lewis that just started in the magazine, Heavy Metal, as of issue #273.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM being remade.
MGM will adapt the book by Robert C. O’Brien as a mix of live action and CGI. Adapted once before by Don Bluth as The Secret of NIHM, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM is about a widowed mouse who gets help from escaped lab rats to save her home and her son.
Valiant Comics bringing their characters to the movies.
DMG Entertainment of Beijing has invested in Valiant Comics and wants to bring the Valiant characters to the silver screen and television. Valiant has Bloodshot, Shadowman, and Archer and Armstrong already in development.
Live action Akira film delayed again.
The director attached to the project, James Collet-Serra, is taking time for himself after making the movies Non-Stop and Run All Night back-to-back. The fate of the adaptation is back in the hand of Warner Bros. The studio has been trying to cut the budget from the initial $180 million estimate down to between $60 and $70 million to offset the fan backlash currently happening. Warner has had the Akira adaptation in some form of development since 2002.
Sony working on an male-driven Ghostbusters remake.
The male-driven remake/reboot is being developed in parallel with the female-driven version. Sony is hoping to expand the franchise. Maybe the best approach for the movies is to borrow from the West End Games Ghostbusters role-playing game and set each movie as a separate Ghostbusters International franchise in different cities. Ghostbusters Tokyo: The Anime anyone?
Three Days of the Condor becoming a TV series.
The conspiracy thriller of the 70s is being developed for TV by Skydance and David Ellison. The original movie was itself adapted from the book, Six Days of the Condor, and involved a a CIA operative whose co-workers were murdered as part of a government cover-up.
Archie getting a reboot, new look.
In a possible first for the publisher, Archie Comics is getting a reboot and a new #1. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples will helm the title and will bring Archie to the 21st Century in appearance without taking away from what makes the character who he is. The re-imagining comes with Archie’s 75th anniversary and follows such works as AfterLife with Archie and the announced Riverdale TV series.
A third Tron movie is in the works.
A sequel to Tron: Legacy will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, who directed the previous Tron movie. The movie should follow from events in Legacy.