Short round up this month. Just a few of note.
Absolutely Fabulous movie coming.
AbFab is returning. Jennifer Saunders, creator and star of the original show, has confirmed that a movie will be filmed this summer, once a budget has been set. Saunders has said that the movie will bring back the main characters, including Joanna Lumley’s Patsy.
Steven Spielberg and SyFy Channel to bring Brave New World to the small screen.
Aldous Huxley’s dystopia Brave New World is being adapted by Spielberg for SyFy as a miniseries. Huxley’s novel looked at a future Earth where consumerism won the day, leading to a sterile world except for areas that refused to conform.
The Rock to play Jack Burton.
John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China will be remade with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the Kurt Russell role. Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, who wrote X-Men: First Class, will write the script. Johnson wants to bring in John Carpenter, the director of the original, on the film.
Alphanumeric! ReBoot reboot confirmed.
Corus Entertainment is set to reboot the 90s CG-animated cartoon, ReBoot, with a full twenty-six episodes. The original series, the first one to use CG, lasted four seasons, with the last being comprised of two made-for-TV movies. The series ended on a cliffhanger, with the virus Megabyte having taken over Mainframe. The new series, ReBoot: The Guardian Core, is set to pick up with four sprites defending their system with the help of the VERA, the last of the original Guardians.
Speaking of the 90s, The Powerpuff Girls are returning, too.
Once again, the day will be saved! The Powerpuff Girls are returning to Cartoon Network, with new voices and new producers. The reboot will be prodiuced by Nick Jennings, of Adventure Time, and Bob Boyle, of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Tom Kenny will return as the Narrator and the Mayor.
Continuing from last week’s discussion on adaptations surpassing their originals. it’s time to look at a specific example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The original Buffy hit theatres in the summer of 1992. Kristy Swanson played the titular character, with Donald Sutherland playing her Watcher, Merrick. The film was marketed as an action/comedy/horror movie, taking the elements of the typical slasher flick and flipping them around. Thus, the blonde cheerleader who would normally be one of the first victims of the slasher becomes the heroine, with her love interest, Oliver Pike as played by Luke Perry, becoming the dude in distress.
Los Angeles is in danger from a cabal of vampires led by Lothos, played by Rutger Hauer. One girl can save the city. Too bad she doesn’t know she’s LA’s only hope. Buffy Summers is a high school senior and a cheerleader, looking forward to her hobbies of shopping and her boyfriend, Jeffrey. Naturally, at Buffy’s school, there’s a schism between the popular and the outcasts, where Oliver and Benny (David Arquette) fall. Fortunately for LA, Merrick is searching for the new Slayer. The Chosen One, Buffy, isn’t as impressed, but her new abilities start manifesting. In addition, Merrick describes a dream that Buffy keeps having. She begins training under Merrick’s tutelage.
Oliver and Benny are the first of the school to run into the vampires. Merrick arrives too late to prevent Benny being turned into a vampire, but does rescue Oliver. Another of Buffy’s classmates, a girl named Cassandra, played by an uncredited Ricki Lake, is kidnapped by Amilyn, played by Paul Reubans, and sacrificed to the vampire’s master, Lothos, played by Rutget Hauer. Lothos has killed a number of Slayers in the past and has set his sights on Buffy. An encounter in the woods has Amilyn and his gang of vampires fight Buffy, Merrick, and Oliver, leading to Amilyn losing an arm and Buffy and Oliver getting closer.
Later, at a school basketball game, Oliver recognizes a classmate who has become a vampire. Buffy chases the the vampire and runs into Lothos himself. Lothos hypnotizes Buffy, but Merrick arrives in time to prevent anything further. Merrick is staked himself by Lothos, and dies. The Watcher gives Buffy one last bit of advice, to do things her way, not the old ways.
Shaken, Buffy tries to return to her old life. At school, though, her friends have turned on her, making her an outcast. Buffy realizes that her priorities have changed while her old friends are still fixated on shopping and the upcoming senior dance. Even her boyfriend, Jeffrey, has found a new girlfriend. Oliver, though, stays by her, understanding what Buffy is going through.
The senior dance is for seniors only. As per tradition, vampires cannot enter a building unless invited. The vampire army built by Lothos and Amilyn, though, consist of high school seniors, and each of them received a formal invitation to the dance. Buffy arrives in time to fight the vampires inside and outside. Oliver takes on his old friend, Benny, while Buffy first stabs Amilyn then goes after Lothos. Once again, Lothos tries to hypnotize her, but Buffy is ready with a cross and a can of hairspray. By using her keen fashion sense, Buffy defeats Lothos.
As mentioned, one aspect of the film was comedy. The movie was light entertainment, a summer popcorn movie that was common before the Blockbuster Era we currently have. Buffy was moderately popular but not a major hit. Joss Whedon wrote the screenplay for the movie, though there may have been some meddling by executives to get popcorn fare.
Five years later, Joss Whedon returns to the character with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. The pilot for the series was once meant for a potential sequel to the original film, but as the show continued, the link between the movie and TV series became nebulous. Ideas from the film appeared, but reworked to fit the new show.
The TV Buffy, with Sarah Michelle Gellar taking over the lead role, kept the horror and the comedy, but became far more darker and tense. The show first aired on the WB, owned by Warner Bros, and was a breakout hit for the fledgling network. In 2001, Buffy moved over to UPN, a Paramount owned network. Despite being on smaller networks, the show gained a following.
In the pilot, Buffy Anne Summers and her mother move to Sunnydale after an incident that resulted in the burning down of the gym at Buffy’s previous school. Buffy is hoping to be a normal girl, despite being the Slayer. All those hopes are dashed when Rupert Giles, played by Anthony Stewart Head, appears as her new Watcher. Sunnydale High sits on top of a Hellmouth and Buffy’s abilities are needed to prevent Hell from boiling out. Being the newcomer, Buffy starts out as an outcast in the school. She meets Xander Harris, played by Nicholas Brendan, and Willow Rosenberg, played by Alison Hannigan, who befriend her through common experience of being outsiders. Cordelia Chase, one of the popular crowd and a cheerleader to boot, represents what Buffy could have been. Cordelia eventually joins in with Buffy and her friends in fighting the evil lurking in Sunnydale.
Through the series, the cast grows, emotionally and numerically. Seth Green, who had an uncredited role as a vampire in the original Buffy, joins the cast as Oz, Willow’s boyfriend. David Boreanaz joins as Angel, a vampire who becomes romantically linked with Buffy. After Buffy is clinically dead but revived, a new Slayer, Kendra, played by Bianca Lawson, arrives. Unlike Buffy, Kendra was raised by the Watchers, and the difference between the two Slayers is evident. Kendra lacks Buffy’s ability to improvise, leading to her death and the activation of Faith, played by Eliza Dushku. Again, the difference between Buffy and Faith is evident. Faith didn’t have the support system Buffy did with her friends.
Each season carried a theme. The first season, set mainly in and around Sunnydale High, showed that high school was hell. By the time Buffy graduates in season three, she had prevented several apocalypses, saved the student body more times than they could count, and befriended many others. Season two shows how Buffy’s approach, while not always successful, had advantages over a strict teaching. The season also had Buffy fall in love with the wrong man, Angel. Angel was under a Gypsy curse; if he ever achieved happiness, the Angelus personality within would be released, causing untold tragedy. Season three shows the difference between the relationship Buffy has with Giles, the relationship the Council of Watchers would impose on Slayers, and the relationship Faith had with the Mayor, who was using the girl for his nefarious purposes. Season four was about change, with Buffy and Willow heading to university, Xander getting a job, Oz leaving because he’s a danger as a werewolf, and Cordelia leaving for LA with Angel for a spin-off series*.
The series became known for its writing, taking chances that wouldn’t normally be seen on the regular networks. “Hush”, a fourth season episode, took a show known for its snappy dialogue and made everyone mute, unable to speak, and was successful. “Once More, with Feeling”, from season six, was an all-musical episode, making /Buffy/ the second show to try that, the first being Xena, Warrior Princess.
How does the TV series stack against the original? The series built on top of ideas presented in the movie and gives them more time to develop. The implications of the Buffy-verse is shown to viewers. The result is a TV series that has more than its fair share of academic papers written about it, with over two hundred produced about various aspects of the show, from dialogue to characterizations to the metaphors of humanity used as the base of many episodes. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series has had comics, including Seasons 8 through 10, and games, including Eden Studio’s role-playing game of the same name. The TV series has far surpassed its original.
Next week, continuing the history of adaptations with the early years of the film industry.
* Angel, naturally enough. Set in LA, Angel was the head of a small private invesitgation company, specializing in the unusual.
Didn’t expect to have a news round up so soon after the last one, but several major announcements came out over the past two weeks too good to sit on. Let’s get to them.
Showtime announces Twin Peaks to return in 2016.
David Lynch is involved through Lynch/Frost Productions. No word on whether the new series is a reboot or a continuation, but will be a limited series, with nine episodes. The big problem with the original series was that the network wanted more even after the mystery was solved. The nine episode limited series will let Lynch tell the story he wants.
Ghostbusters reboot confirmed.
This isn’t the sequel Dan Aykroyd has been pushing for. Paul Reig, director of Bridesmaids and The Heat, will be working on a gender-flipped reboot. Joining Reig is writer Katie Dippold, who has worked on Parks and Recreation and The Heat. Will it work? Depends on audience reception, really. The original Ghostbusters was second only to Beverly Hills Cop in terms of popularity in 1984 and both movies took advantage of music videos to get noticed.
LeCarré’s The Night Manager being turned into a limited BBC series.
John LeCarré’s spy thriller will star Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston in the BBC adaptation. No word on who the actors will play yet.
Lost Sherlock Holmes film turned out to be misclassified.
A 1916 silent film adaptation of Holmes thought lost turned out to be mis-filed by Cinematique Français decades ago. This isn’t the 1914 A Study in Scarlet that the BFI was looking for, as reported last month, but an American film made in Chicago by William Gillette. The BFI is excited over the find. A Study in Scarlet is still being sought.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy being adapted.
The three books in the trilogy, Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, will be adapted for SpikeTV by Vince Geradis, a co-executive producer of A Game of Thrones. Robinson will be on board as consultant.
World Wide Dredd.
A seven-part Judge Dredd web series has been announced by Adi Shankar, producer of 2012’s Dredd. Shankar has been working on a project featuring the Dark Judges. The news follows the Day of Dredd campaign to get a sequel to the 2012 movies done.
The LEGO Movie spin-off announced.
LEGO Batman will be getting his own movie. Will Arnett will return to voice LEGO Batman while Chris McKay, animation supervisor for The LEGO Movie will be the director. Release date is expected to be 2017. I am now wondering how well LEGO Batman will fare compared to Superman vs Batman, and would not be surprised if the LEGO version did better.
Stargate still being rebooted.
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin are returning to the Stargate helm with a reboot trilogy, as was reported back in September here. Details have still not been announced beyond the trilogy being a reboot instead of a continuation.
Spinward Traveller TV pilot on Kickstarter.
d20 Entertainment is working to put together a pilot episode of Spinward Traveller. The show, based on the Traveller RPG, follows the exploits of the free trader Beowulf in the Spinward Marches of the Third Imperium. The Beowulf‘s fame in the game comes from the distress call on the back of the box of the classic edition of Traveller.
Starship Troopers reboot/remake could be in works.
Still unconfirmed, but Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures had some interesting tweets involving the work.
Magnificent Seven being remade.
Denzel Washington may star in the remake. This leads to the chain of remaking an adaptation; the original Magnificent Seven took The Seven Samurai and placed it into the American frontier.
Speaking of Denzel Washington…
The Equilizer is set to hit theatres in September. The movie is a remake of the CBS TV series starring Edward Woodward that ran from 1985 to 1989 about a semi-retired spy who freelanced as a troubleshooter for people who needed help.
Sonic the adaptation
The speedy hedgehog is getting a combined live-action/CGI animated movie. Little has been released other than Doctor Eggman will be the villain.
Magic School Bus rebooted to Netflix
Miss Frizzle rides again as the series gets rebooted thanks to Netflix. The original Magic School Bus aired on PBS as an educational series where Miss Frizzle took her students in the titular bus to visit various locations, such as Egypt, space, and the human body.
Lion King spin-off Lion Guard
The series will follow Kion, the second born of Simba and Nala, as he leads the Guard. While other characters from the series may appear, new characters will compose the cast.
Grumpy Cat gets Christmas Special
Internet celebrity and meme source Tardar Sauce, also known as Grumpy Cat, will be getting a Christmas special that will air on Lifetime. The cat earned the nickname because of colouration and facial features that made her look like she was perpetually grumpy. When asked about the the special, she said, “Let it – NO.”
You new too, Scooby-Doo?
Warner Bros. to reboot Scooby-Doo, most likely as live-action movies. No cast is attached yet; the reboot of the adaptation movie is still in pre-production.
“Demon With a Glass Hand” to be adapted for the big screen.
Harlan Ellison’s episode for The Outer Limits will the basis for the upcoming movie based on the classic TV series. The episode involved time travel, aliens, and a man with a computerized hand.
Once again, the day will be saved…
… thanks to the Powerpuff Girls! Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup will be returning to Cartoon Network in 2016.
True Blood: The Musical.
With the TV adaptation wrapping up on HBO, Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries may become a stage musical. Nathan Barr, who worked on the TV series, has composed the musical.
Pacific Rim returning hard.
The sequel to the movie has been announced for April 2017. In the meantime, an animated series and a book series based on the movie, the latter having begun with Year Zero, are in the works. The original movie centered on fighting an invasion of kaiju, or giant monsters, with giant mecha and did far better outside the US than in it.
AMC working on Walking Dead spin-off.
The spin-off of the TV series adapted from the comic is slated for a 2015 debut. Robert Kirkman, who created the original comic series, will use the spin-off to expand the world of /The Walking Dead/.
The Final Girls to star Jamie Lee Curtis.
The series will be a drama featuring a group of girls who survived horror stories as the sole survivor. The name comes from the trope where the last character to reach the end credtis of a horror movie is usually the well-behaved girl. Curtis herself played one in Halloween.
Stephen King nervous about reaction to The Shining sequel.
Doctor Sleep follows Danny Torrence after he has grown up. King hopes that people think that the book will be better than The Shining, reflecting the experience he has gained since the original book was published.
A Wrinkle in Time adapted as a graphic novel.
Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s novel has been adapted by Hope Larson as a graphic novel.
Star Wars adapted to, wait, Shakespeare? Really?
Verily. In an effort to help students grasp Shakespearean plays, Ian Doescher wrote William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. After Doescher sent in the first act, Lucas Films encouraged him to continue. “True it is, that these are not the droids for which thou search’st.”
Commissioner Gordon to get prequel series.
The announcement came on the same day that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered. Fox managed to outbid Warner Bros. TV on the series, which will focus on the time Gordon spent as a detective on the Gotham City Police Department. Bruno Heller, creator of The Mentalist, will helm the show.
Dark Horse announces Firefly/Serenity continuation comic.
Firefly is seeing a resurgence lately, with tabletop RPG, boardgame, and now a new comic. A release date and a writer have both not been set.
Constantine may be developed for NBC.
NBC has ordered a script based on the DC Comics character John Constantine. A pilot has still has yet to be greenlit.
Lost Three Stooges film found!
A copy of the seventeen minute short “Hello, Pop!” has been discovered in a shed in Austrailia. The short was thought to be lost in 1967 in a fire.
Voice work begins on Thunderbirds Are Go!
A remake of the Supermarionation TV series will be a mix of puppetry and CGI. David Graham will reprise the role of Parker, Lady Penelope’s driver. Lady Penelope will be played by Rosamund Pike.
Live action Cruella de Vil movie in works.
Glenn Close, who played the puppy-fur-loving villain in the live action 101 Dalmations and 102 Dalmations is the executive producer of the movie. Disney also has a live action Cinderella in the works.
CBS to adapt The Songs of the Seraphim novels.
Angel Time is in development with author Anne Rice signed on as executive producer. Vampires are not involved.
Rainmaker Entertainment, who bought Mainframe Entertainment, has announced a reboot of the CGI animated series ReBoot. Rainmaker renamed its TV division to Mainframe Entertainment in conjunction with the news on the 20th anniversary of the creation of ReBoot.
There was much rejoicing.
Walter White’s obituary runs in Albuquerque newspaper.
Fans of Breaking Bad paid for an obituary for lead character Walter White after the series finale.
In 1982, the world of computing was vastly different than today. Desktop computers were still in their infancy, with popular machines being Commodore’s VIC-20 and Radio Shack’s TRS-80. Game consoles existed, but the video arcade was the home for video gaming, as machines ate a steady stream of quarters. Cyberpunk and the concept of cyberspace were still new, with John M. Ford leading the way in 1980; but, neither would be well known until the 1984 publication William Gibson’s Neuromancer. However, the visiuals of cyberspace got a boost from, of all places, Disney.
The early 80s saw Disney experimenting with releases, taking risks that the company normally had passed on. One of the experiments was an, at the time, animated project that would incorporate computer graphics in with the traditional techniques. The project evolved further, becoming a live-action film with computer animation enhancing the look. Tron was released in 1982 and performed well enough, bringing in double its budget of US$17 million, but received mixed reviews and was not nominated for an Academy Award for Special Effects because the use of computers was considered “cheating”*. The late Roger Ebert felt that Tron was not given due credit by audiences and critics alike and showcased it at his first Overlooked Film Festival in 1997.
Tron, though light on plot, is a beautiful movie. The film stock changed depending whether the action is in the real world or in cyberspace. The computer world was filmed in black and white with bright primary colours hand-drawn on to the film, creating a stark contrast. Tron created the base of most depictions of cyberspace and its denizens. Wendy Carlos’ musical score heightened the other-worldly nature of the digital realm. Tron, despite being ignored by audiences in general, proved to be influential, including leading to the works of Daft Punk and the creation of Pixar.
The plot of Tron is simple enough. Software engineer Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, has been fired from ENCOM after alleging that his boss, Ed Dillenger, played by David Warner, had stolen several video games designed by Flynn. As a result, Flynn tries to hack into ENCOM’s computer but gets blocked by the Master Control Program set up by Dillenger. One of Flynn’s hack attempts has CLU, also played by Bridges, try sneaking through the system; CLU gets discovered and is de-rezzed by a Recognizer. Meanwhile, Alan Bradley, played by Bruce Boxleitner,, one of Flynn’s friends and former co-workers, has a security program, Tron, that monitors communication between the MCP and the real world. Flynn convinces Bradley to get him back inside to increase Tron’s security clearance. However, the MCP has reached artificial intelligence and is actively protecting itself. The MCP uses a laser to digitize Flynn into the Game Grid. On the Grid, Flynn finds himself a prisoner of the MCP, forced to participate in gladiatorial games based off the video games he and others programmed at ENCOM. With the help of Tron, Flynn escapes and works towards the overthrow of the MCP in order to return to the real world.
Since Tron‘s release, the movie’s influence grew. As mentioned, without Tron, there would be no Pixar. In 2008, Tron was nominated for the American Film Institute’s Top Ten Science Fiction Films, although the movie didn’t make the list. The visuals have infused themselves into pop consciousness; depictions of cyberspace resemble Tron‘s grid.
In 2010 Disney released Tron: Legacy, a sequel and reboot of Tron. The world of gaming changed in the almost thirty years since the release of the original. The video arcade, mainstay of the 80s, has all but disappeared. Console gaming is far more widespread, as is the Internet. Keeping the feel of the original Tron while incorporating modern graphics and sensibilities had to be balanced with the capabilities of CGI. Back for Legacy was both Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner reprising their roles from Tron. Time had passed for their characters, with Kevin Flynn having a son, Sam, played by Garret Hedlund, and then going missing in 1989, Sam has long lost his belief that his father will return by the start of the film, but a page brings him to Flynn’s Arcade. Sam snoops around and finds a computer still on, waiting for input. Sam logs in, and gets digitized to the Grid. He’s picked up by a Recognizer, which now looks even more ominous. Sam is sentenced to the Games, where he’s recognized by a semi-feral program called Rinzler as a user. The film continues with Sam’s fight to escape, the discovery of his father and the last of the isomorphic algorithms, and the race to return to the gateway to get back to the real world. The concept of Zen plays heavily in the film as the chess match between Flynn and CLU turns into first a game of Go then into a game of Roborally**.
As a reboot and sequel, the movie does well. The Grid is bleaker than in Tron, and an explanation is given for why the blossoming of colour at the end of the first movie is gone. The story in both Tron and Tron: Legacy is Kevin Flynn’s; Sam may be the mover and shaker in Legacy, but it is his father’s story that comes to a close. The music, by Tron fans Daft Punk, again adds to the otherworldlyness of the computer realm and adds a sense of menace that Wendy Carlos didn’t have. Legacy is just as beautiful as the original.
Next week, the pitfalls of adapting games.
* Times have changed indeed. Life of Pi won the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects in 2013 with heavy use of CGI.
** Not so much because there’s robots, but because even carefully laid plans in Roborally can be completely derailed thanks to an unforeseen random element.