It’s 1980 again

Hot on the heels of THE BIONIC WOMAN and KNIGHT RIDER, ABC has greenlighted a pilot for a "reimagined" version of V, the NBC alien invasion series that starred Mark Singer,  Robert Englund and Jane Badler (pictured on the left). Variety reports:

The new "V" centers on Erica Evans, a Homeland Security agent with an aimless son. When the aliens arrive, her son gloms on to them — causing tension within the family.
Like the original, show centers on visitors who say they've come to help the Earth — but their motives are nefarious.

V writer/creator Kenneth Johnson isn't involved in this version, which will be written and produced by Scott Peters from THE 4400.

It’s Not Easy Doing a Show About a Talking Car That Fights Crime

Gary Scott Thompson, showrunner of the rebooted KNIGHT RIDER, talked to MediaWeek about the hard road the show has traveled. The biggest problem has been NBC's tinkering with the concept and the abrupt decision, based on plummeting ratings, to cut back the number of episodes ordered and to  make the show more like the David Hasselhoff original than a Galactica-esque " reimagining."

(Thanks to TV Squad for the link)

They are The Champions

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Variety reports that Guillermo Del Toro and Christopher McQuarrie are teaming up to write United Artists' movie version of the 1960s UK series THE CHAMPIONS, which starred Stuart Damon as one of three spies who develop super powers after crashlanding in the Himalayas and being rescued by a secret civilization. Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner will produce. 

Absolutely Scary

The wave of British TV series remakes on American networks is continuing. Variety reports that Fox is developing a U.S. version of  "Absolutely Fabulous" set in Los Angeles. Christine Zander, a writer for "Saturday Night Live," will write the script and exec produce with Mitch Hurwitz, Ian Moffet and the original creator/star/producer Jennifer Saunders. This is not the first time a U.S. network has tried an Abfab redo.  Roseanne Barr and Carrie Fisher teamed up for a U.S. version ten years back for ABC but it went nowhere.

Remakes and Sequels A-Go-Go

Variety reports on a slew of remakes and sequels today. Disney has signed Johnny Depp for a fourth PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie and he will play Tonto in a new LONE RANGER flick (honest, he will!).  Warner Brothers is bringing back Will Smith in a prequel to I AM LEGEND. And Sony TV and Geffen Records are developing a remake of THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY, which will be written by Jeff Rake of CASHMERE MAFIA.

I’m Fraking Quoted

Chris Talbott of the Associated Press picked up on my blog post a while back about the subversive power of "Frak"..and quoted me in an article on the topic that is showing up today all over the fraking place.

Lee Goldberg thinks Glen A. Larson is a genius, and not because the prolific
television writer and producer gave us "Knight Rider" and "B.J. and the Bear."

It was Larson who first used the faux curse word "frak" in
the original "Battlestar Galactica." The word was mostly overlooked back in the
'70s series but is working its way into popular vocabulary as SciFi's modern
update winds down production.

"All joking aside, say what you will about what you might
call the lowbrow nature of many of his shows, he did something truly amazing and
subversive, up there with what Steven Bochco gets credit for, with 'frak,' "
Goldberg said.

There's no question what the word stands for and it's used
gleefully, as many as 20 times in some episodes.

[…]Goldberg believes Larson should get more
credit for "frak" and has posted an appreciation on his Web site. He even sought
out Larson to let him know how he feels: "I told him, 'Frak is fraking
brilliant, Glen.' "

The reporter also talked to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA cast members, novelist Robert Crais, and he even  managed (with my help) to track down Glen for a quote or two.

"Our point was to whenever possible make it a departure like
you're visiting somewhere else," Larson said. "And we did coin certain phrases
for use in expletive situations, but we tried to carry that over into a lot of
other stuff, even push brooms and the coin of the realm."

The producers of the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fraking love to use the word, of course.

Co-executive producer and writer Michael Angeli, an Emmy
nominee for the episode "Six of One," said using the word in scripts is
satisfying for anyone who's been censored over the years.

"It's a great way to do something naughty and get away with
it," Angeli said.

That talented motherfraker is frakin' right.

The Sweeney Gets Nicked

 The big-screen remake of the cult UK TV series THE SWEENEY (one of my favorites) has been shut down just a few weeks before it was scheduled to go into production.  Variety reports that backer Fox Searchlight got cold-feet , worried that the $16 million movie from writer-director Nick Love wouldn't make money outside of England without a big-name star attached (bigger than Ray Winstone and Michael Fassbinder, who were taking over the roles originated by John Thaw and Dennis Waterman). But the producers insist the movie  isn't dead:

Rather than continue with pre-production in the hopes of nabbing a big
name at the last minute, Fox and DNA mutually agreed to step back and
wait. They are still hoping to go into production next year. Cult
writer-director Nick Love remains attached to direct.
[…]"We're confident we'll get the film made next year," DNA production chief Allon Reich told DailyVariety.

It’s 1970 All Over Again

CBS may have canceled SWINGTOWN, but their love affair with the 1970s is just getting started. Hot on the heels of the news that CBS is remaking THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO comes word from the Hollywood Reporter that the network is also developing a new HAWAII FIVE-O. They've hired CRIMINAL MINDS showrunner Ed
Bernero to craft this new take. The last time CBS tried to revive HAWAII FIVE-O, back in the late 90s, they turned to writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell, who wrote the script with former network chief Kim LeMasters and cast Gary Busey and Russell Wong as the stars.  James MacArthur reprised his role as Danny "Dano" Williams, who'd bec0me Governor of Hawaii. Several other HAWAII FIVE-O cast members, including Chin-Ho (who was killed off in season 10), returned in cameos.  Mike Post even updated the FIVE O theme. The pilot was shot and never aired…but I have a copy.

Ciscos are taking it to The Streets

The recent announcement that CBS is developing a remake of THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO made me wonder how the news was playing with the Ciscos, the diehard fans of the show who inundated ABC with packages of Rice-A-Roni a few years ago.

It isn't going over well. They have taken out a full-page ad in Daily Variety demanding the return of the show with the original cast, wardrobe, and automobiles.

"It's an outrage," said Kirby Sneed, spokesperson for the Save Our Streets Global Alliance. "Any version of STREETS without Karl Malden, Michael Douglas, and Darleen Carr would be an abomination."

His dream of a STREETS reunion nearly came true sixteen years ago when NBC mounted the TV movie/pilot BACK TO THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO, which was written by William Robert Yates, one of the original producers. Malden returned, as did Carr, but he was teamed with two new partners and Michael Douglas' character was killed off. The fans felt betrayed.

"The fen have disowned the movie," he said. "We don't consider it canon."

Sneed says the "horrific creative choices" made in the movie have "been corrected in the subsequent fanfiction, but it took a lot of work."

He says that Ciscos realize that Malden, now in his 90s, might be too old to resume his part, but the fen would be willing to accept Paul Sorvino in his place, as long as he reprises his role as Inspector Bert D'Angelo, the lead of a short-lived STREETS spin-off called SUPERSTAR.

They also have "realistic expectations" as far as Douglas' participation is concerned, acknowledging that its unlikely that the feature film star would return for a TV movie. They are in serious discussions with Douglas' publicist's secretary about the possibility of him doing a cameo if a "true remake" is made.

They are confident, however, that Richard Hatch, who replaced Douglas in the series' final season, would be available to resume his role (he has already written his own screenplay for a STREET revival, which he is adapting into a comic book).

Sneed, who lives in San Francisco, has kept the series alive through fan fiction and a driving tour of STREETS locations that he offers to tourists in his1971 Ford Galaxie 500, the same model as the one Inspector Stone drove.

"It was more than  TV show," he said. "It's as much a part of the city, and its history, as the Golden Gate Bridge."

Lewis: Series One and Two

Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching the first two seasons of LEWIS, the sequel series to INSPECTOR MORSE, one of my all-time favorite mystery series.

Lewis was Morse’s long-suffering sidekick in the original series. Now Lewis is the Inspector and he has a suffering side-kick of his own, former seminary student Sgt. Hathaway. The series features many of the same production team as MORSE, as well as the same Oxford locations and the Hitchcockian cameos by author Colin Dexter, who wrote the books that the series was based on. The commonalities end there.

The MORSE mysteries were rich, complex, surprising and intelligent…and were enlivened by Morse’s wonderfully irascible, embittered and brilliant bachelor and his strained, father-son relationship with Lewis, a simple-minded family man.  The writer/directors of MORSE included Danny Boyle and Anthony Minghella…there are no comparable talents on the new show.

The mysteries in LEWIS are plodding, padded and obvious…and worst of all, they are mostly the same story told again and again (a group of current students or former classmates share a dark secret that sparks a series of killings). Lewis and Hathaway end up solving the crime through coincidence and luck rather than deduction or cleverness. The suspects are all one-dimensional cliches.

The absence of John Thaw’s Morse is keenly felt…even more so by the unnecessary references to his character that are sprinkled heavy-handedly and awkwardly through many of the episodes. One of the biggest mistakes was trying to turn Lewis into Morse…by
killing off his wife and sending away his kids. So now he is the lonely
bachelor butting heads with his bosses…almost forcing the audience to compare him to Morse. Unfortunately, his loneliness isn’t nearly as interesting and revealing as Morse’s. It’s just dull.

And while Morse’s ill-fated crushes were sad reminders of his lonely life…and his inability to fit in…the gimmick in LEWIS of having a female suspect in just about every episode wanting to drag him into bed is ridiculous and embarrassing.

And yet…I enjoy the show and pretty much devoured the episodes. I find it oddly soothing…like a cup of hot tea. The primary attraction of LEWIS is the relationship between Lewis and Hathaway (who is, by far, the more interesting character of the two) which sort of plays like “MORSE light.” Hathaway is a fascinating character and actor Lawrence Fox brings far more depth to his performance than there appears to be on the page. Their gentle banter lacks the bite of MORSE, but it has its pleasures all the same.

Maybe it’s more nostalgia for MORSE than any real love of LEWIS that keeps me watching…

LEWIS would clearly like to be the successor to MORSE…and if ratings in the UK are any indication, they’ve achieved their goal…but in my mind, REBUS wins that honor hands-down.