Just my opinion…

Last night on ABC, Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel presented a live broadcast of two original scripts from All In Family and The Jeffersons.

I was working, so I only got to see bits and pieces of the show. I will give credit where it is due, however:

First, it was an all star cast, it almost had to be – look at the great people who were in the original roles! Some seemed to fit perfectly, others, well, not so much. Second, the sets we’re amazing! If I didn’t know, I’d swear they were shot on the actual set from the 70’s! Very well done. Lastly, kudos for doing it live. That takes guts.

Now, here’s my opinion:

I understand Jimmy Kimmel’s personal desire to do this. I also understand Norman Lear’s involvement. My question, however, is – why?

This wasn’t your typical reboot. With those, you either have the old cast reunite for some new episodes (like Rosanne, Will and Grace, and countless others), or you have new episodes with a new cast in a “updated version” of the show (Like the One Day at a Time on Netflix). This special, however, was a new cast in the classic roles doing a word by word rendering of an old script. That’s right – an old show, word for word, the only thing that changed was the cast.

I read an article about the reboot and Sally Struthers, who played Gloria on the original All in the Family, basically trashed the idea! She asked the same question I did – why? She stated that it would not be the same without the original stars. I tend to agree with her. Did we really need this?

Hollywood proves again that they are out of original ideas! It’s bad enough it’s a reboot, it’s also not an original story idea! It’s an old script! Sure, you could replace the Nixon references and make them Trump references and they still work. You can also point out that even though the script is 40+ years old, the story is relatable. That only proves my point of this blog (in my final thought below).

The characters of Archie and Edith and George and Louise will forever be associated with the actors who played them in my mind. (I was impressed with Jamie Foxx and Marissa Tomei’s performances, but they weren’t Sherman Hemsley’s or Jean Stapleton!)

Final Thought

While it was interesting to have these shows back with a new cast, I didn’t really understand the point. It was a word for word production of an old script. You know what? If you are going to do that….I’d rather you just air the original episodes. If they were good enough to copy word for word, then just play the original!

Thoughts?

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