Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Remakes and Updates

Greetings SF Fans and welcome to Wednesday's exciting post. Today I want to talk a bit about remakes and updates in the science fiction world.

SciFi Channel provided some new insights into the production of its new Flash Gordon TV series over the past few weeks as well as some tidbits about the famous Battlestar Galactica series and prequel (Caprica) for those who were interested. It seems that lately everything old is new again, and the networks seem to have come to the conclusion that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Personally, I have to agree. Remakes of shows like Kolchak, The Night Stalker have bombed in the ratings war, but the unstoppable juggernaut that is Battlestar Galactica is making up for the lack of traction for other failed re-imaginings. The question is why some of these re-treads succeed (like The Outer Limits) where others fail (like The Twilight Zone).

The answer is difficult to see, but I think it mostly lies in the idea that some shows divert very little from the original and thus are compared unfavorably to their progenitor and fail. Kolchack was very similar to its 1970's original, and there-in lay its doom. People tuned in expecting to get the original and they got something that was very similar but not quite the same. The opposite is true of Galactica. People tuned in to see a reprise of the original only to find something radically different from what they were expecting. Some didn't like it, but most did, and thus it thrives.

Some shows, which are obvious remakes, change their names in order to pretend that they are not the same show and guarantee new viewers. Seaquest DSV was obviously a remake of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea just as it was fairly obvious that Time Tunnel was the inspiration for both the Sliders and Quantum Leap franchises. Still you have a bunch of new shows that want to pretend that they are not remakes, and that is OK. After all, I loved The Equalizer, so Burn Notice is obviously going to appeal to me, just as those who liked Forever Night will enjoy the upcoming Moonlight. The real question is will they succeed?

With Flash Gordon coming to SciFi channel later this year, we can only hope that they learned the lesson and have made it different enough to survive. I hold high hopes that this production will give us all the kind of retro-science-fiction style flair that we expect while giving us edgier humanist inspired drama. There are talks that Buck Rogers, Commando Cody (a.k.a. the Rocketeer), and Lost in Space may be seriously being considered to return to TV in new re-imaginings, so let's just hope that they have a glimmer of thought on how to improve upon their classic forebears.

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