Sunday, August 30, 2009

Everything Old is New Again...Again

Sometimes when I read the entertainment mags, I have a hard time remembering what year it is. Like, my calendar claims it's 2009, yet the cast of Seinfeld is on the cover of this week's EW. There's talk of a Heathers TV series. And there is a Twilight Zone movie in the works.

They're Back, Baby! - Yes, Seinfeld is returning. But not in the way that you might think. And certainly not in some cheesy Brady Bunch-style reunion special that would find Jerry and Elaine getting married, George winning the lottery and buying the Yankees, Newman being named Postmaster General, and Kramer coming out (revealing Bob Sacamano as his long-time lover, of course). Knowing that a traditional reunion episode is probably the worst idea ever (aside from making a three-hour Seinfeld movie), co-creator Larry David came up with a novel way of bringing the gang back to life: a "fake" reunion on David's HBO sitcom, Curb Your Enthusiasm. It sounds like not only a great plan to appease Seinfeld lovers, but also to boost Curb's own ratings (even though the hilarious show isn't really hurting for viewers). The five-episode story arc (beginning on October 4) will revolve around Larry trying to win back his estranged wife by masterminding the Seinfeld reunion. I'm actually very excited about this. It's really the only way to bring back the show without actually bringing it back and ruining our collective memory of its greatness.

Someone Had a Brain Tumor for Breakfast - From an idea that is "so very" to one that is just so wrong...Variety recently reported that a small-screen version of Heathers is in the works, co-written by Jenny Bicks of Sex and the City fame. Although Bicks is responsible for one of my favorite SATC episodes ever ("A Woman's Right to Shoes"), I don't really have faith that a 46-year-old woman can tap into the darkly humorous minds of Heathers' teens. And bringing a hit movie to television never works. Remember Clueless? Fast Times? Ferris Bueller (poor, lovely Charlie Schlatter)? Apparently, the movie has to suck for the TV version to be any good, like in the case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Submitted for Your Approval - Warner Bros. and Appian Way (Leonardo DiCaprio's production company) have plans to bring yet another update of The Twilight Zone to the big screen. As a huge TZ geek, I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, I wasn't a huge fan of the 1983 movie. While the first and last segments were well done, I was ambivalent about the "Kick the Can" update, and absolutely furious with the hatchet job done on the classic "It's A Good Life." I've also been underwhelmed by both TV reboots of the series, even though they have both produced a few gems (and the 2002-2003 update even features an episode with yummy Jeremy Sisto).

On the other hand, as I just said, the various tries at updates have occasionally had good results. And good stories are good stories. If the filmmakers respect the brilliance of the original tales and don't try to get too fancy or dumb them down for a sex and violence loving audience, there is really no reason why a TZ movie couldn't work. And I actually prefer the idea of remaking classic episodes to writing a new group of stories and slapping a Twilight Zone title on it. Mainly because if the new stuff sucks, I don't want it lumped in with the wonderful work done by great writers like Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, and Charles Beaumont, among others. Their stories are timeless. All that might be improved upon now are some of the hammy performances and the production and effects that were lacking back in the early-'60s.

In the spirit of positivity, I'd like to offer Leo & co. my suggestions for four original TZ episodes that could benefit from a remake:

1. Twenty-Two - This is TZ's take on the classic "room for one more" urban legend, in which a hospitalized dancer has prophetic dreams about her impending death. I'd always loved the legend and, although it should have been a slam-dunk for TZ, it's something of a disappointment for three main reasons: it's one of the few eps shot on videotape, Barbara Nichols is horribly grating in the lead role, and the big explosion at the end has all the drama of someone lighting a fart.

2. The Invaders - A really good idea that just turns out to be lame (even though a lot of other TZ geeks would disagree). The combination of Agnes Moorehead's incessant grunting, large lack of dialogue, and cheesy look of the aliens puts this one near the bottom of my favorites list, yet I can still see its potential to be something great.

3. One More Pallbearer - I've always basically liked this story, but something gets lost in the execution. Also, none of the actors are very interesting. But I think bringing this to the big screen today would be appropriate, since it centers on a very immature, entitled man who blames everyone but himself for the problems in his life, and is hell bent on making them apologize. That sounds like, well, just about everyone these days. And hey, I bet Leo himself could do a great job as the lead character. (I'm not saying he's a jerk, just a good actor.)

4. The Trade-Ins - Another essentially good plot that loses a little something in the translation and another that would be even more appropriate in today's image-conscious society, as it deals with a company that has perfected body swapping. An elderly couple visits the place to trade in their old shells for newer, younger ones but discovers that they can only afford one. Perhaps they could get Michael Douglas and CZJ to star in this one? (Sorry, that's my quasi-lesbian jealousy flaring up again.)


Knot said...

Wow ... Heathers on TV. That show was "Mean Girls", "Wild Things" and "90210" all rolled into one.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

A Seinfeld reuinion on Curb???

Pinch me, I must be dreaming.


CDP said...

I loved "Lamb to the Slaughter", which was based on the Roald Dahl short story of the same name (and it was a very faithful adaptation). Basic story: Barbara Bel Geddes plays the newly-pregnant wife of a policeman, who comes home one night and coldly tells her that he's leaving her for another woman, and that he'll try to provide for her and the baby but he's not making any promises. As he's about to walk out the door, she takes a frozen leg of lamb and clubs him over the head with it, killing him. She then puts the leg of lamb in the oven and after it's been roasting for hours, she calls the police, and claims that she found him dead after a quick run to the store. As the officers devour the lamb she offers them, one of them says something like "the weapon's the most important thing...we have to find the weapon", and that's the end.

BeckEye said...

Knot - Now you're making me imagine a "Heathers" starring Tori Spelling. I could kill you and make it look like a suicide for that.

Candy - Pinch.

CDP - Ah yes, I remember that one. One of the good ones from the '80s revival. I couldn't believe Ms. Ellie would have done such a dirty deed!

Cora said...

A Seinfeld reunion?! GET OUT!

Penny said...

Did you also read they are postponing release of Shutter Island??

I was very bummed about this. I live for EW. :)

red said...

I can't wait for the new season of Curb. Should be amazing!

Soda and Candy said...

I love TZ as well. I hope Man-Boy DiCaprio doesn't ruin it!

Bond said...

As a huge fan of the original TZ...I am afraid for them to bring it back especially if they are writing new material and just putting the franchise name on it.

The arc for Curb will explode the ratings - though, as you point out it is hardly needed.

words...words...words... said...

I just hope they don't sully TZ, as I am a huge fan. The episode CDP refers to was actually first an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents back in the 60s, and it was very good.

I think the psychological stories would work best today. Maybe "And When The Sky Was Opened" or as you said, "One More Pallbearer". There's another one I really like that I can't come up with the title of. It had a bunch of people quarantined in a diner while an alien is suspected of being in the neighborhood. That one would work well too.

BeckEye said...

WWW - Dammit, why did I remember that as an '80s TZ? Ah, I guess if it's not the original TZ run, all of those anthology series run together for me. Yeah, Miss Ellie would have been much older had that been an '80s Zone.

Oh, and "And When the Sky is Opened" is OFF LIMITS. That is one of my favorite episodes, and near perfect in every way. Although, I could be persuaded into thinking that it's a good thing if they put, say, Ewan McGregor in Rod Taylor's role, Hugh Jackman in Charles Aidman's, and uh...Timothy Hutton in James Hutton's. Oh, screw that family values shit. Give the role to Sisto. SISTO!

BeckEye said...

Missed the last part of your comment. Drooling.

Anyway...that diner ep was "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" and is a classic that should not be tinkered with.

words...words...words... said...

So the episodes eligible for remaking have to be pretty good, but can't be REALLY good? Jesus, woman. No wonder writers and directors willfully ignore fanboys!

Metal Mark said...

Never saw "Heathers". I figured it was horrible so I have avoided it.

cube said...

I'm a big Seinfeld fan but I don't get HBO. I will have to wait for it online.

I'm also a big fan of TZ, but I disagree about the remakes. They should go find some new stories, preferably good ones, and shoot a new generation of creepy TZ.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Hasn't someone already taken old Twilight Zone episodes, reworked them, and called them "Treehouse of Horror"?

Angell said...

Beck - would like you to sit down for this one.

Rumor has it that Heathers will also be a ....*shudder*...Broadway musical.

I was too busy shaking with disgust to try and figure out all the factors involved. All I kept repeating over and over again was WTF????

dguzman said...

All I want to know is why Leo DiCaprio's head is so damned big.


Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

My photo
I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

What Do Others Think of BeckEye?

"You're like an idiot savant of terrible garbage entertainment." - Falwless

"You're my hero." - Candy

"Get yourself a life. Better yet.....eff off." - Ann Onymous

"There's no one like you." - Klaus Meine