Charlie Collier, AMC’s general manager, either thinks like I do or he reads the blog. He wants to “mine” classic shows and movies for possible remakes, hoping to appeal to the fans who are in their 40s and 50s.
About frakkin time!
Someone in cablevisionland finally woke up to the fact that: 40 & 50 year olds (generally) have money, most of ’em grew up on TVand a whole shitload (official measurement according to the US Dept. of Weights and Measures) get off on some kind of science fiction.
That’s right. Science Fiction. NOT Nazi Werewolves versus the Giant Alligator from Planet Redneck.
They’ve also not missed the obvious fact that SkiffyTube(R) – aka the SciFi Channel – has abandoned that demographic in favor of Inbred Nazi Werewolves from the Redneck Planet. (Although to be fair, inbreeding for werewolves might actually be a good thing.)
AMC is producing a remake of Patrick McGoohan’s cult classic The Prisoner. From the buzz I’m hearing, they’re going to do it proper justice. Although the proof will be in the pudding, I’m rooting for ’em.
Collier seems to be looking for other classics that AMC can give the same treatment to. I have a strong suggestion to offer.
Before you go and remake a classic, find out if your core audience prefers a remake, the original, or maybe even both. Give some strong and serious thought towards EMBRACING a comparison between the old and the new. Have your cake and eat it too.
As one (vocal) member of the fifty year olds who grew up on SF on television and in the theater, I know I cast a jaundiced eye towards any redo I’m offered. I know I watch in horror and pain when some smartypants director or script writer thinks they’re capable of improving on the original and fucks the entire thing up by failing to have understood not just the original message/plot/characters, but the zeitgeist of the era that produced it as well.
Its admittedly pretty hard to get the feel for a 50s era film if you’ve never been instructed to hide under a school desk in the event of nuclear attack. Its impossible to know what it was like to watch a space flick before man had landed on the moon.
Which is one of the major reasons that I think that so many re-makes have failed to hit the mark, at least in my estimation. To provide a recent example – I’d MUCH rather sit down and watch Heston’s Omega Man than Smith’s I Am Legend.
What I WILL happily do is watch both back to back, with Vincent Price’s Last Man on Earth thrown in for good measure. I’ll spend the entire 6+ hours explaining to my friends exactly how and why LMOE is the closest to Matheson’s story, OM is a good update and strikes the right balance and IAL sucks on so many levels that the real tragedy is that its the only one of the three that shares Matheson’s title.
As far as the broadcaster is concerned, it doesn’t really matter why I’m watching now, does it? I’m watching. Nielsen can tell I’m watching and they can tell the advertiser’s that I’m watching. That’s all that really counts.
Now, when it comes to The Prisoner, I really have my doubts as to whether anyone can improve on the original. McGoohan was made for the role – or rather, he made the role for himself. No other actor can say that.
The vaguely displayed technology of the original was pretty far-out for the time. Nowadays its standard government operating procedure for ordinary citizens, let alone retired secret agents.
The zeitgeist of the time was one of ultra-paranoia (pretty darned close to now) coupled with a sense that the old order was about to be overthrown and replaced with – what? Flowerpower? Anarchism? Communism? No one knew. The latter is going to be very hard to capture and translate for a different era.
But I’ll tell you what, AMC. If you broadcast the original show before of after your remake – I promise I’ll watch both. I’ll even watch the redo with an open mind and anticipatory heart.
On the other hand, if all you offer up is the new version, I might remember to schedule watching the first episode . After that its all up to how badly I think you’ve screwed with the original. But if you give me both, I’ll have a reason to stick around.
AMC has a good chance here to eclipse SkiffyTube(R) and make the SICs over there regret ever having coined their new mantra, because all you’ll be hearing around their offices will be people saying “What If we had stuck with science fiction? What If we had realized our audience was already more than just geeky young guys? What If we hadn’t been such idiots?”
AMC has a hot, successful head of programming in Collier, a wide open field, some good connections to the existing SF community (Scalzi’s blog for one) and they’ve demonstrated with this move that they’re paying attention to what’s going on.
Just remember AMC – let us have our cake and eat it too!