Is it too much to ask for a “good story”?

Literature-Books-Bookshelf-Shelf-Library-Bookcase-2007660.jpg  Just announced this week – the return of Murphy Brown to TV.  This follows the return of Will and Grace, the upcoming return of Rosanne, and the announcement of the return of The Office.  There was also an announcement this week that there are plans to do a “live action” sitcom of the cartoon series The Jetsons.  The question I have is simply – “Why?!”

This has been tried in the past, both  successfully and unsuccessfully, on the big screen and on television.  Successful ventures include The Addams Family movies, The James Bond movies, Fuller House, and Hawaii 5-0.  The unsuccessful ventures include Car 54, Where Are You?, The Honeymooners, Dragnet, Fawlty Towers, Ironside, The Munsters, and SO many more.

Is the creativity in Hollywood that non-existent?  This may very well be the case.  Tune in to prime time TV and you will find many shows who remain on the air despite scripts that are weak, laughs that are barely worth a chuckle, and predictable scenarios that leave the viewer feeling less than wowed.  In looking over a list of bad reboots, some were cancelled after only a handful of episodes aired, one was cancelled after only the premier aired, and many were shot, but never even made it to air.

Where are the ideas?  Where are the stories?  Why does Hollywood think it is ok to just rehash an old idea and spoon feed it to us?  Why is the below average product acceptable to audiences today?

As an avid reader, I can tell you that I have read many books and told myself that the story would make a good movie.  When I walk into my local library and look at the shelves of books, I wonder why no one has looked to these stories for inspiration or to make into a film.  In the past, so many of the movies now referred to as “classics” were all adapted from books.  Think about it:  Moby Dick, The Godfather, The Princess Bride, To Kill A Mockingbird, Gone With The Wind, Dracula, The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, The Brothers Karamazov, All Quiet on the Western Front, A Christmas Carol, and the list goes on and on!

There are so many stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that could easily be adapted for the big screen.  There are also many “character” book series that I could see being adapted for TV series (just like Perry Mason was adapted for TV from the Erle Stanley Gardner book series).  With so many varieties of stories, written by so many different authors, why hasn’t someone in Hollywood turned to them for projects?  Instead, TV relies on a handful of writers who rehash old story lines, predictable punch lines, and sexual and crude humor to power their shows.  Hollywood continues to remake classics (and in many cases destroy them) and churn out films with no story lines, bad acting, gratuitous sex scenes, or they just take an idea and reuse it until it just doesn’t work anymore.

Every time that I have thought about going to the movies over the last 6 months, I have gone to the website of the theater to see what was playing and decided that there was just not anything that I was willing to pay to go see.  Nothing interested me (with the exception of a Pixar or DreamWorks animated film I can see with my kids).  The same goes for TV.  I would say that 9 times out of 10, when I do watch TV, I am usually watching an old show on DVD or Netflix.  There are very few “new” shows that I watch.  I am content watching old episodes of Columbo, Mission Impossible, Sanford and Son, Twilight Zone, or the Three Stooges!

I can only hope that movie goers and TV viewers will show Hollywood that they are just not going to shell out money to see another bad remake or lame attempt at a plot.  I hope that they will turn off their sets and read a good book instead.  After all, at least when you read a book – your imagination gets a work out.  (That’s a good topic for a future blog.)

“A good story transcends boundaries, breaks barriers, and opens doors” – Blake Mycoskie

“Never underestimate the power of a good story” – John Kotter



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