So, remember when a movie re-imagining, or re-boot, was a really cool thing? Me neither, but I can remember when it was interesting, even a little exciting, when some legendary TV show from the past was being considered for the Big Screen, or for a TV imagining. Michael Keaton as Tim Burton’s interpretation of Batman comes to mind. It was cool to see comic book Batman, the tormented hero who was almost as much of a headcase as the various wacko villains he faced, after a childhood informed by the wacky, farcical Adam West version of the Caped Crusader. Burton’s film was a triumph, and its sequel nearly as good. It was unfortunate that the studio didn’t know when to stop milking that particular cow, leaving us with George Clooney, Val Kilmer, petulant Chris O’Donnell as Robin, and the infamous nipple suit–but not everything that starts well ends well.
In the years since, I’ve seen my childhood, and those of the successive generations, mined for Hollywood Gold, most of which turned out to be more like Fool’s Gold: “Land of the Lost”, “The Avengers” (not those Avengers), The Flintstones, or Speed Racer come to mind. And then there are the insipid Transformers movies, and seemingly dozens of others. I’m sure there was some decent stuff thrown in there, but by and large the adaptations were pretty mediocre at their best, and downright unwatchable at their worst.
Then, about a decade ago–give or take–a wayward Star Trek veteran named Ron Moore got together with the SyFy channel and announced a new television series based on another old chestnut called Battlestar Galactica. The statement was meant with more than a few furrowed brows, and a whole lot of snickering despite Moore’s stellar reputation among Trek fans. Galactica, for those that don’t know, was a quickly-concocted and laughably bad 1970s television that has been rushed into production in order to capitalize on the unexpectedly huge response to the original Star Wars movie. Many people my age were too young to realize just how bad it was, and the show held a warm place in our memories, but the idea of a reboot with a new cast was laughable. When word got out that disco-era hotshot space pilots Starbuck and Boomer would be reimagined as women, all we could do was shake our heads.
I didn’t watch it at first, but I started hearing things. Terrible and wonderful things. In short order I was describing the show to anyone who could hear me talk as the greatest TV series of all time. I might walk that praise back a little today, but I’d still put it in the top 10. It was that well done. I felt lonely when it ended.
In the meantime, we got a new Captain Kirk (whom I seem to be the only old Trek Head to like), and a new James Bond–the fifth or sixth, who can keep track?–and, for some in explicable reason, a new Spiderman, seemingly in midstream–Toby McGuire waded, and some–kid–emerged dripping wet on the far riverbank. And not only that, it was the same origin story we’d had less than a decade ago–radioactive spider, Uncle Ben is dead, yada yada yada. Now, predictably, we hear word of yet another James Bond, when Daniel Craig is owning the role, and–even more stunning–yet another Spiderman, where we have to go through high school with Peter Parker yet again. And we have what seems to be 18 different incarnations of Sherlock Holmes solving mysteries even as I speak.
Is this some kind of twisted Groundhog Day thing, or what?
And now I read about a new Battlestar Galactica! While the body of the previous re-imagining is still warm! I’m forced to wonder if we are now officially out of new stories? Should I give up writing original material and begin my television reboot of Law And Order? Or “Friends: The Motion Picture” followed by its sequel, “Friends: The Wrath of Janice?” I’ve pretty much reached my saturation point–not that, for whatever
demographic reasons–49-year old white guys with lots of free evenings and disposable income are not relevant to Hollywood. The new Spiderkid seemed charming in the latest Captain America, but I’m not interested in another interpretation of the origin story. Similarly, and speaking as a die-hard box-set owning Starbuck-fetishizing, guy who likes to yell “Whatta ya hear Starbuck?” in crowds of strangers, I have zero interest in somebody telling that story again. None–and certainly not while a utterly definitive version is still so fresh in my heart and mind–sometimes evolution reaches its perfect form.
I wonder if I’m an outlier here, or a precursor, but I suspect that it is the latter. The age of speedy reboots is waning. Generations have a decreasing interest in hearing the same stories “re-interpreted again and again.” Or, at least, that’s what I think…but only time will tell.