One of the more popular things going around Hollywood right now is the whole concept of the remake. It has to do with “established brand names” or some such nonsense. But, once concept that was introduced in recent years is the “re-imagining.” That’s where you remake something but, in your remake, you tend to start all over from the ground up; give new spins on things and more contemporary touches. I believe the term “re-imagining” was first coined by Tim Burton, as he described his remake of Planet of the Apes.
Over in the realm of television, the “re-imagining” concept is also gaining ground. Look at the new re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. It is widely considered by many – sci-fi nerds and mainstream critics alike – to be one of the greatest TV shows right now. The whole politics, society, and war that form the basis of the show have been greatly expended upon and explored. Star Trek meets The West Wing was how one critic described it.
So I’ve been dwelling on this for a bit. Perhaps it’s time for me to re-imagine some of my favourite TV shows from my childhood. Make them all hip, edgy, and contemporary. Here’s my short list, and some of my concepts.
Show #1: My Secret Identity
Remember This Show?: It focused on a teenaged boy. Living alone with a single mom. Then, one day, he’s hit by a mysterious ray from the mad scientist living next door, and he’s given superpowers! He then uses his powers to help out the (not so mad) scientist, solve the occasional crime, and navigate through the trials and tribulations of growing up. Jerry O’Connell ( star of Stand By Me, Sliders, and now Crossing Jordan) played our young hero.
How Would I Pitch It To Hollywood: “So, this show is about a teenage superhero first learning about his powers, and using it to fight all kinds of crimes as he goes through his teen angst…what? No, I’ve never heard of this Smallville show….”
How I Would Re-Imagine It: Actually, I’m surprised no one else has thought of doing this. When Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a hit, I was reading online about all kinds of supernatural/sci-fi/teen angst TV shows in development. Smallville seems to be about the only successful one. Anyway, I see it as being more of a light-hearted Smallville. Seriously, don’t you get sick of all the teen angst in Smallville? Clark and Lana staring longingly at each other while the latest junior-high-dance-puppy-love-slow-dance-song plays. That’s all gotta go. Or, at the very least, be relentlessly parodied. My Secret Identity would be the perfect medium for that. Add a romance between the single mom and the mad scientist, sweet talk Jerry O’Connell into a recurring role, and you’re set.
Show #2: The Edison Twins
Remember this Show?: A stalwart of after-schools on the CBC in the 1980s. Tom and Annie Edison are gifted fraternal twins with a flair for science. They use their excessive knowledge of science to help their little brother out of jams and solve mysteries in the neighbourhood. Oh, and here’s a weird trivia note. It’s one of the few live-action shows produced by Canadian animation studio Nelvana.
How Would I Pitch it to Hollywood: CSI meets Veronica Mars
How I Would Re-Imagine It: Gritty it up. Move it from its half-hour, kid-friendly format to a one-hour, crime-style drama. There are strange goings-on in the suburbs, and the Edison Twins have finally resolved to get to the bottom of it using their mastery of science. Throw in some funky visuals ripped off from CSI, an overreaching story arc similar to The X-Files, and some witty Joss Whedon-esque dialogue, and you’ve got a hit on your hand. Oh, and I’d guess you’d have to throw in a couple of dollops of teen angst.
Show #3: Seeing Things
Remember this Show?: One of the most unique shows to come out of Canadian television, and a hit for the CBC in the 1980s. Louis Delgado is a down-on-his-luck crime reporter for a Toronto newspaper. After a near-death experience, he’s given an unusual superpower. When he visits a crime scene, he can absorb the residual energy in the objects, and thus see glimpses of the crime that happened. Using this power, he become a top-notch reporter and solves all variety of unsolvable crimes. But, this wasn’t a gritty supernatural crime drama. It was actually quite comedic, with another core conflict being Louis’s love triangle, as he was torn between his estranged wife and a saucy crown prosecutor.
How Would I Pitch it to Hollywood: Medium meets Ally McBeal
How Would I Re-Imagine It: I almost think that a serious, hardcore re-imagining isn’t needed. Just get some good writers to provide sharp dialogue. Probably the toughest sell would be ensuring a male lead. Most shows like this have a woman as the protagonist. But, you know, after having caught it in a few reruns, I think the perfect guy to star would be Jason Alexander. (George on Seinfeld.) You get him, and everything else would fall into place.
And there you have it! Hollywood’s hits in the making. Or, remaking in this case. I leave you now with the words of Louis B. Mayer, one of the founders of MGM: “Hollywood should not remake good movies. Hollywood should remake bad movies, and in doing so, try to fix what went wrong the first time.”