Surprisingly I’ve hit a bit of a patch. The past week or so I’ve found it difficult and virtually impossible to write about anything. It’s times like these that I truly feel as though I live a very insular life. At this very moment I am an oasis. If you were to ask me what I think about the fiscal cliff I could only generally discuss the topic. To be honest, if you asked me much of anything I’m not sure I’d be able to give you a matter of fact answer.I spoke to my best friend about my writer’s block. Since he’s a professional writer providing me with ideas would be easy. While he had a number of them I settled on on-screen originality. The fiscal cliff was his idea and I’d like to take a break from politics. It’s like what a friend of mine said recently posted on Facebook, no mention of the next Presidential Election until at least 2014!
Why isn’t there more originality when it comes to movies or television shows? There’s been a slew of remakes in the past several years that have me perplexed. Is it not possible to create something new? In my opinion, original movies are generally better left alone. At the moment I can’t really think of a remake that was better than the original. The thing is, I couldn’t imagine there being a remake of Gone with the Wind or even Titanic. And who would think of remaking already iconic films like Footloose, Miracle on 34th Street, Meet Me in St. Louis, 12 Angry Men or even The Karate Kid? Yet, there are remakes of them all and in some cases like Meet Me in St. Louis and Miracle on 34th Street there are three versions of each. More so, many remakes are disguised in the changing of a title and some minor plot changes. It’s rather pathetic, really. Yes, there is a common formula when it comes to movies and television shows but is it really necessary to remake so many films? Think about it, there are so many truly great books that would lend themselves well to a movie adaptation. Thank you Harry Potter!
Then there are spinoffs. When it comes to television there are times when spinoffs are like lightning in a bottle. This is the case with sitcom spinoffs like Fraiser (1993-2004) that was arguably equally as great as Cheers (1982-1993). Dr. Fraiser Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer, is among only three actors to play one character for 20 consecutive years! Then there’s the phenom that is All in the Family. This series, a ground-breaking and much-loved show, ran from 1971 to 1979 and spawned four spinoffs including Maude and The Jeffersons plus three spinoffs of spinoffs, most notably Good Times. Generally speaking spinoffs don’t work, think of Friends and the Joey spinoff. It’s a pleasant surprise when a spinoff is as strong as the original. That being said, there are plans for a spinoff of the popular 90s sitcom, Boy Meets World (1993-2000). This spinoff will feature much of the old cast who are now parents of a new crop of teens. Let’s hope that it’s not what Saved by the Bell: College Years was like to Saved by the Bell. The college years only lasted one year. Am I dating myself with these references?
A lot can be said of what I believe to be original ground-breaking series like that of The Cosby Show, Star Trek, Friends, CSI, and even M.A.S.H. They stand the test of time and are more different than they are the same. That’s also the case with movies like Jaws, To Kill a Mockingbird, Citizen Kane, Singin’ in the Rain, and Some Like it Hot. Shows and movies like these set the standard for greatness and is what I’d hope others would aspire to be, original and unprecedented.
I love watching television and movies and would love to see more original programming and less of the same singing and dancing shows, reality shows, you name it. Despite there being some really great movies and shows over the past few years, the movie and television landscape is rather bland and predictable.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 11/28/12 issue of The Union-Recorder. The article appeared as Reality Bites in TV and in Film.