Am I out of my mind, or are they out of ideas?

So apparently Footloose is being remade. And apparently TNT has ordered a pilot for an updated version of Dallas. Also, At the Movies is returning to PBS — complete with a speechless Roger Ebert. Is there a single original story idea left in the media business? It would seem not. This summer we received The Karate Kid, an original story based upon… The Karate Kid. Even Avatar, This Year’s Greatest Movie of All Time, is essentially Pocahontas Dances with Wolves in Space. Television demonstrates this trend even more:  how many shows use the Law & Order formula? At least seven? As I’ve pointed out before, Fringe is The X-Files for the A.D.D. generation, and ABC tried to similarly recycle Twin Peaks into Happy Town this summer. (Yeah, I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it.) Sure, the producers latch on to the formulas that make money, but whatever happened to risk-taking? Lost was good for the first two years, until the writers ran out of ideas. House was sort of innovative, but it imitates itself too much. The only really original show currently in production that I am aware of is Mad Men — the only show I watch as it airs.

The current drivel that makes up most television programming may reel in the big bucks, but it doesn’t attract me. Maybe when the History Channel returns to history-centered programs I’ll return. But until then, why would I watch The Universe when I can watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on DVD?


2 thoughts on “Am I out of my mind, or are they out of ideas?

  1. “Safe” is the magic word. Risk-taking is seen as unsafe when a tired cash cow can be milked repeatedly.
    I’m not totally opposed to the idea of remakes, but a remake requires that a new special element be added to allow it to hold its own unique place.
    Statistics are misused by executives who think that two similar shows will automatically generate the same ratings. Studios need to take chances and see what ratings they get from their new ideas; the originality of the original production might have been what brought it ratings in the first place.
    Keep in mind, often drivel does generate profits. Philistines are everywhere.

  2. The problem is that the Shows/Movies that are often remade are ones that were successful, so studios think that if they just repackage something they can sell it again (at a higher price). And this leads us to self-fulfilling prophecy land. The Studios hype the remakes while they assume the original ideas aren’t going to take off, so they show episodes at random times/show them out of order and are surprised when NO ONE WATCHES. I can think of at least 3 shows right now (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Firefly) which this has happened to.
    So basically, the studios choose what we see. This is also true in the realm of film. I recently saw a hilarious movie called “The Imposters” from 1998. Yet no one has ever heard of it (it’s not even on Rotten Tomatoes). I’m not claiming there is a conspiracy here, but it’s really just the market at work. If audiences keep going to see the same things over and over again, then studios will deliver them more of the same until they have sucked a once original idea dry (see The Disney Channel)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s