Thursday, 30 July 2009


Spotted on the excellent blog of author, screenwriter, producer, and TV historian Lee Goldberg, who found this news on Variety: House creator and showrunner David Shore has been tapped by NBC Universal and Steve Carell's production company to revive The Rockford Files.

In the original Rockford Files (1974-1980), aired on NBC, Hollywood film and television legend James Garner starred as private investigator Jim Rockford. Wrongfully jailed in the 1960s and pardonned, he lived in a mobile home (which doubled as his office) on a Malibu beach. Rockford, the ultimate anti-hero, was a creation of Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell and the memorable theme of the show was composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. James Garner came back as the character in the nineties for some TV-movies.

Well, we're beyond Saint Bernie (Lomax) on this one. I guess Hollywoodland will never cope with the idea that there's some material you definitely can't remake or "reinvent". James Garner IS Jim Rockford, period. Garner not only shared the "Jim" with Rockford, he was the show (and even co-produced it through Cherokee, his production company). It's like doing Hawaii Five-O without Jack Lord. You simply can't.

You can do a P.I. show about a lovable loser maverick (pun intended) private eye who lives in a mobile home and drives an old Firebird, gracefully thank a Rockford Files influence, put a former movie A-lister as the lead or a Brit actor able to deliver dry jokes with a perfect American accent... but you can't revive The Rockford Files.

And for original creations you can ask Lee. I'm sure he'd be happy to oblige.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, quits his position to launch a company with IAC/InterActiveCorp, whose chairman and CEO is Internet mogul Barry Diller. According to the IAC Press release, the new venture will produce and distribute content for Web and TV across a variety of platforms around the world.

Some rumours sent Ben Silverman in the UK to head ITV but the idea of the British network hiring Ben Silverman to replace Michael Grade as executive chairman, after what The Hollywood Reporter calls a a "rocky two-year tenure" at NBC (1), seemed not buyable on your humble servant's side of the ocean. After all ITV has Harry Hill, Stephen Mulhern or Jeremy Kyle, so the Brit net doesn't need the man who greenlit My Own Worst Enemy, Knight Rider, Kings or The Philanthropist (2). Anyway, the departure of Silverman marks the end of an era, but not for the Peacock... for Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily.

Ben Silverman was a quasi-gimmick if not a running joke on Nikki Finke's blog. In February she wrote: « I often refer to Ben Silverman as "the gift that keeps on giving" because he provides me with so much material to deservedly humiliate him. And now he's living up to that moniker » ( Yesterday Nikki waved goodbye to the "gift" with an eight-part series called The Ben Silverman Experiment Ends (!) It includes a delicious Behind-the-scenes story about what she considers to be a smokescreen from NBCU ( and a "poignant" travel down Memory Lane through links to all her chronicles of Ben Silverman's tribulations ( - You can almost hear Barbra Streisand's The Way We Were on this one (« Memories, Light The Corners Of My Mind... »)

Knowing Nikki Finke a (very) little, your servant bets this Ben Silverman Experiment Ends series is not a farewell to her "gift", and we can expect more NBCU stories (a Philanthropist Making of, anyone?) Seriously, it would be good to see NBC back proud as a peacock to the network's Must See TV days.

See also:

(2) Particularly when ITV's Autumn 2009 Drama lineup is far better than the BBC's offer.

Saturday, 25 July 2009


Extended trailer of AMC/ITV's The Prisoner remake starring Jim Caviezel as Number 6 and Sir Ian McKellen as Number 2 ( Shown at Comic-Con 2009.

Well, how to put it nicely: Good Luck, Jim...

Friday, 24 July 2009


ITV1 unveiled today its Autumn 2009 schedule. On the Drama front it must be mentioned that some of the titles were already in the Winter/Spring Season 2008-2009 presentation but the will of ITV and its director of television, Peter Fincham, to refocus on post-watershed drama is clearly reaffirmed by this lineup where events mix with conventional and less conventional ITV shows.

And Collision is indeed an event. The five-part serial co-written by Anthony Horowitz (Crime Traveller, Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War) is likely to be aired on consecutive nights (, like what the BBC did for the recent Torchwood: Children of Earth. Starring Douglas Henshall and Paul McGann, Collision is Peter Fincham’s first new independent drama commission, with director of drama Laura Mackie, since joining ITV as director of television. It's about a major road accident, how it changes the lives of the protagonists and a string of mysteries around the tragedy - including a government cover-up. It's good to see ITV playing again on a field which made the reputation of quality of British television all over the world.

Another event if not a coup is the return of the great Robbie Coltrane to ITV1 drama after Cracker, with Murderland, a 3X60-minute thriller telling a traumatic murder story through the eyes of three central characters. Coltrane is one of them, detective Douglas Hain. Murderland is written by David Pirie (the excellent Murder Rooms) and directed by Catherine Morshead (Viva Blackpool, Ashes to Ashes). Plea to ITV and Coltrane, who is overbooked until 2052: more Cracker, the 2006 revival was incredible. Fitz must come back.

Announced at the end of 2008 but awaited more than ever: the return of Mr John Hurt as Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York, 33 years after The Naked Civil servant. And a new version of Wuthering Heights, directed by Coky Giedroyc (Blackpool) and adapted by Peter Bowker (Blackpool, Desperate Romantics), with the fantastic Tom Hardy (Bronson, Martina Cole's The Take) as Heathcliff. Costume/period dramas = BBC? Think twice...

Autumn will see the return of the best British show of 2008, The Fixer. John Mercer (Andrew Buchan), an ex-Special forces is arrested by the police after he killed his uncle and aunt because the former abused of John' sister, Jess (Liz White, revealed by Life on Mars), without any sort of intervention of the latter. He's recruited in prison by the mysterious Lenny Douglas (Peter Mullan) to become an assassin for the government. His job: to kill criminals the law cannot apprehend.

His partners: disgraced ex-copper and femme fatale Rose Chamberlin (Tamzin Outhwaite), and petty thief Calum McKenzie (Jody Latham, better actor than Hell's Kitchen candidate). He's worlds away from the intelligent, thoughtful ex-soldier, but Mercer must live with him between the missions. Reminiscent of Callan, this creation of Ben Richards for Kudos (Spooks, Hustle), is a dark, hyper-realistic spy/crime drama, with some humour and a social sub-text. Ken Loach meets the obscure side of The Equalizer. The Fixer II opens with an explosive two-parter.

Martin Clunes returns as Doc Martin for a fourth series - let's hope ITV will commission another series of Kingdom, by the way. And Julia McKenzie makes her debut as Miss Jane Marple in two brand new Agatha Christie's Marple (not your humble servant's cup of tea but Christie is an international winner). All this looks very promising and the autumn lineup will be an important test for the "Fincham effect" on ITV.

BBC Autumn Lineup:

See also:

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Until now the New Zealand movie and television industry was known for giving Peter Jackson to the world and for providing its wonderful landscapes to US productions looking for exotic location and financial advantages. Outrageous Fortune, a Kiwi comedy/drama with a more than excellent growing reputation will certainly help to change this conception.

Shown in New Zealand on commercial TV station TV3 since 2005, Outrageous Fortune is the longest-running local drama and a cult favourite in this country. The show - created by James Griffin and Rachel Lang - is about Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm), wife of a criminal sentenced to four years, who decides to move out her family of the crime business. Acclaimed for its stories and its strong cast and characters, the multi-awarded Outrageous Fortune ( is produced by South Pacific Pictures and distributed by All3Media. There's two CD compilations of the soundtrack available with other licenced products.

As usual, there has been an attempt to adapt the show in the US (Good Behavior, for ABC) and ITV remade Outrageous Fortune as Honest (2008), with Amanda Redman - star of BBC's New Tricks. Television fiction from Down Under is raising a lot of interest these days, with Aussie dramas Underbelly or Rush (co-starring the remarkable Callan Mulvey, known in France for his Drazic character in Heartbreak High).

The title of Outrageous Fortune comes from the Hamlet monologue: « The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ».

Series 5 trailer:


Nikki Finke keeps saying she "doesn't do geek", generally to add a "but..." - which rises some astonishing reactions each time. I suspect Nikki does that for the fun of it and it's now a well-established "Finkism", like "The gift that keeps on giving" or her famous "Toldja!" The "I don't geek" is now even cult (see this hilarious video here:

But Nikki Finke knows that most of this industry is "Geek-centric". Like last year, film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y. Thompson covers the San Diego Comic-Con for Deadline Hollywood Daily. AMC's remake of The Prisoner and Doctor Who series 5 are amongst the items of interest (

Monday, 20 July 2009


After the short-lived but wonderful reinvention of Minder, where he was Archie Daley, the great Shane Richie is back in a 90-minute drama shot last year and called Whatever It Takes. A modern satirical tale about celebrity.

Richie plays an unscrupulous PR and talks about his role, about the TV-movie and about the fate of the new Minder in an excellent interview for Digital Spy (

We've been very supportive of this version of Minder on this blog - someday it will gain the cult status of The Persuaders - and we appreciate Shane Richie. ITV usually shows very good one-off dramas, remember Compulsion (2008) with Parminder Nagra and Ray Winstone. Whatever It Takes airs in the UK this sunday at 9pm on ITV1.

And Minder with Shane Richie and Lex Shrapnel is on DVD, thanks to Fremantle (



First picture of Matt Smith as Doctor 11 with his new companion, played by Karen Gillan, on the shooting of the fifth series of Doctor Who. In June I wrote: « Now Series five of Doctor Who has to be bloody good, believe me ».


Update: Series 5 gallery - "new" Tardis included - at our friends of Beans On Toast (, the French-speaking reference on the Whoniverse:

Recap of the press coverage of this beginning of filming on one of our favourite blogs, Cathode Ray Tube:

Saturday, 18 July 2009


Ageism seems to be amongst the latest issues tormenting the BBC these days, with the expenses of its executives (1) and the state of its dramas - catalyzed by the debate between eminent producer Tony Garnett and Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC drama commissioning (2). After the controversial replacement of Arlene Phillips, 66, a veteran choreographer, by pop star Alesha Dixon, 30, as a judge in the popular Strictly Come Dancing show (3), the return of the acclaimed New Tricks on BBC1 for a sixth series comes with an unsuspected irony.

Launched in 2003 with a pilot episode and shown since 2004, New Tricks is a "cold case" comedy/drama show with a difference. Headed by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, played by Amanda Redman, UCOS (Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad) is a very special unit composed of retired and burnout aged police officers: Jack Halford (James Bolam, of the Likely Lads fame) - haunted by the death of his beloved wife, Gerry Standing (the legendary Dennis Waterman) - a gambler and a ladies man with three ex-wives and three daughters, and Brian Lane (the wonderful character actor Alun Armstrong) - a recovering alcoholic with OCD.

Both the humour and the sensibility of New Tricks come from the simple idea of these men coping with their personal demons but proving you "can't teach old dogs new tricks" when they're back to the job. And they are with virtuosity but also with a total lack of discipline and professional orthodoxy, plus the weaknesses of age (but the strength of experience). The ensemble cast of this great show is solid and it's a treat to watch British television legend Dennis Waterman (the original Minder) ageing well in the shoes of John Thaw - his former "Guv" in The Sweeney.

Faithful to his own myth, Waterman sings It's alright, "da feem toon" (as his parody by comedian David Walliams would say in Little Britain) of the show. Unfortunately French viewers were deprived of the song when New Tricks arrived on French public channel France 3 in 2008, with It's alright replaced by Rien n'est écrit, a song in French performed by Murray Head (whose brother Anthony played in one episode). With all the respect due to the talented Murray Head, say it ain't so, Joe please... (sorry, couldn't help).

The sixth series of New Tricks, launched with more than 8 million viewers on July 16, claimed 34% share in 9pm slot, beating nearest rival by more than 4 million viewers ( In many respects the ratings of the series premiere echo with a poetic irony not only to the Arlene Phillips replacement but also to the "Hollyoaksing" of the cast of Doctor Who - Matt Smith (the new Doctor) being 26 and Karen Gillan, the Doctor's new assistant, 21.

New Tricks
star Amanda Redman, 49, fears she could lose out on top jobs because of her age, in the wake of the Phillips situation ( This would be a terrible mistake because Redman is all charm, class and talent. Anyway the Beeb can argue that the main character of its flagship franchise is 905 years old, which is far far more older than the Strictly Come Dancing iconic presenter Bruce "Brucie" Forsyth, 81.

« It's alright, its OK
It doesnt matter if you're old and grey... »
(Dennis Waterman, the Guv of British television)

(2) + +

Friday, 17 July 2009


Some days ago, the "Rumor Mill" feature of The Wrap ( caught the attention of your humble servant with this : Who Toldja Now? Finke Under a Microscope - The LATimes, NYTimes and The New Yorker are all scrambling to write about the newly-bought blogger.

Besides the fact that I wondered how Top Entertainment industry journalist Nikki Finke would react to the "newly-bought blogger", an elegant allusion to the acquisition of Deadline Hollywood Daily, her blog, by MMC, I don't know why but the word "Microscope" made me fear some National Register type of investigative journalism.

Fortunately nothing like that in the article of The New York Times, signaled by Nikki to her loyal readers ( I love this most typical "Finkism": « It claims I'm "thuggish". So thug this: I'll be back to work on Monday ». Oh, I didn't mention that She Who Must Be Read affirms she's on "vacation". Nikki on vacation? Come on! Even on Gilligan's Island she would manage to find a laptop, a cell phone and a DSL connection (TOLDJA! Thurston Howell III signs a deal with Disney for a Gilligan Theme Park).

David Carr's NYT article is titled A Hollywood Blogger Feared by Executives ( The legend continues and the Hollywood biopic is not far away.

See also:

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Bernie Lomax is the Patron Saint of Hollywoodland. Bernie who? Bernie Lomax, the corpse of the hilarious cult comedy Weekend at Bernie's (1989) and its sequel, Weekend at Bernie's II (1993) - No, they're not zombie movies! - with the great comedian and actor Terry Kiser as Bernie (the man should have received an Oscar). Latest project to honour the glorious memory of Saint Bernie: a movie remake of The Big Valley!

According to The Hollywood Reporter (, Kate Edelman Johnson is planning a big screen remake of The Big Valley (1965-1969), a western series co-created by her father, Louis F. Edelman, and A.I. Bezzerides. Barbara Stanwick starred as Victoria Barkley, matriarch of the Barkley Ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley, near Stockton. Young Lee Majors and Linda Evans were in the cast.

The idea of Big Valley feature film is most intriguing. After all, the show was the less interesting of all the "Primetime western soaps" of the sixties, a copy of Bonanza (which got its own "legitimate" clone with The High Chaparral). And it's a movie, not a RHI miniseries. Honestly, the elementary elegance would be to ask Linda Evans to be the new head of the Barkley family and to phone the agent of Lee Majors. We're talking legends here, and Linda Evans won Hell's Kitchen UK this season. The catering would touch Heaven.

Update: Lee Goldberg on this movie project:

Thursday, 9 July 2009


Special thanks to Philippe Lombard (

Writer Warren Murphy mentioned it to his "Facebook friends" yesterday. Chiun, Master of Sinanju, the world's deadliest assassin, and trainer of this "Pale piece of pig's ear" (as Chiun calls him) named Remo Williams are - according to The Hollywood Reporter Risky Biz blog - on their way back to the big screen (1).

The characters originated during the 1970s in The Destroyer, a series of Pulp books initiated by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. Remo Williams, a Newark cop, is framed for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to death. But he's saved from the electric chair to become the pitiless defender of the United States Constitution and the ultimate secret weapon of the President. Working for the definitely down to earth Dr Harold Smith, head of CURE, he's trained by Chiun, a master assassin from the Korean village of Sinanju.

After the first two books, similar in tone to The Executioner books, the literary series morphed brilliantly into what became the distinctive trademarks of The Destroyer: humor - with amongst other things Chiun's addiction to his "beautiful dramas" (i.e. soap operas) and being the perfect " Jewish mother" to Remo, social satire, parodies and references to news of the moment. In 1985, the duo got a first movie adaptation called Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, starring Fred Ward as Remo, the great Joel Grey (Cabaret) as Master Chiun and Wilford Brimley as Harold Smith. In 1988, a follow-up television pilot for ABC starred Jeffrey Meek as Remo Williams, Roddy McDowall as Chiun, and Stephen Elliott as Dr Smith. 15 minutes of the pilot were seen on the US West Coast and the rest were pre-empted by a speech by President Reagan (2).

In spite of many differences with the books, the 1985 movie is now considered rightfully as a classic and so is its superb score by Craig Safan. One can be amazed that such a treasury of modern pop culture, with all the potential for a huge movie franchise, has been seldom adapted but readers are not surprised at all, as they know that elements of the books have been plagiarised a gazillion times for more than thirty years by many movies or TV series. It's about time for Hollywood to pay respect to Remo, Chiun and their creators.

Some humble tips to the producers of the new Remo Williams movie: don't water down the humor and the tone of the books (and Remo is not Bond), be faithul to their spirit and above all: consult Warren Murphy. Warren Murphy is one of the best authors of his time, don't mess with the co-creator of a most beloved book franchise (some have tried) revered by millions of loyal readers all around the world. And he has Chiun's personal phone number. Oh... No "A-Lister" for Remo Williams and a very experimented actor for Chiun.

Mathis Landwehr, German martial artist and actor, star of The Challenge ( and of the excellent Lasko - Die Faust Gottes action concept tv series (, is my choice for Remo. Stephen Tobolowsky would be a fabulous Dr Harold Smith. Chiun? Joel Grey, of course...

See also: (In French).

(2) Unsold Television Pilots - 1955-1989, by Lee Goldberg (McFarland, 1990). Yes, THE Lee Goldberg. A Must book for every television aficionado or specialist (

Monday, 6 July 2009


« I can think of a lot of TV shows that would make great movies, but TJ HOOKER isn't one of them » writes Lee Goldberg in his blog (1) after an an article in Variety about a movie remake of T.J. Hooker (2). T.J. Hooker, a 1982-1986 Spelling/Goldberg show, starred William Shatner in the title role: a no-nonsense veteran cop on patrol with his junior partner, Romano (Adrian Zmed). A young Heather Locklear co-starred.

Chuck Russell, director of The Mask, is in talks to direct the movie adaptation, which will get an action comedy treatment (« It's... Showtime! »). « What's next, Diagnosis Murder? » asks Lee. What is really funny in this case is that sometimes Life imitates Art. Some of you, faithful readers, may remember the opening scene of the fantastic Charlie's Angels movie in 2000: there's a human bomb terrorist aboard the First class cabin of an airliner and one of the girls, disguised as a giant African American, sits near him. On a huge screen there's a movie for the passengers... T.J. Hooker The Movie! The "giant African American" sighs and says: « Another movie from an old TV show ».

Nuff said.



Can the first kick ass TV monk since Kwaï Chang Caine and his epicurian best mate save the world from a secret organization hidden within the Vatican and save the future of German television fiction in the meantime? Since June 18th, German channel RTL gambles more than entertainment with the new show of Hermann Joha's company action concept: Lasko - Die Faust Gottes (Lasko: The Fist of God). And it's damn good!

Action concept, the production company created and helmed by Hermann Joha, made History on German television in 1996 when Joha took over from another company the destiny of a new pedestrian cop show (where he was working on the stunts) and made it a genre in its own respect, delivering Lethal Weapon and Die Hard every week. The show was called Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizeï (Alarm for Cobra 11) and still exists today. The same year came the other milestone of action concept, Der Clown (The Clown), a series which made the action sequences of the Bond franchise or of the Joel Silver productions look old-fashioned.

The regular show ran from 1998 to 2001 and in 2005 The Clown jumped to the big screen for an exceptional movie experience. Then Hermann Joha began to consider the international expansion of his company. Action concept produced big budget tv movies shot in English with international casts and worked with one of the best US television screenwriters and producers, Lee Goldberg (Fast Track: No Limits, 2008). The idea of Lasko emerged during this period in a 2006 ambitious television film (doubling as a "backdoor pilot") called Lasko – Im Auftrag des Vatikans (Lasko - Death Train), starring martial artist and actor Mathis Landwehr (Kampfansage - Der Letzte Schüller/The Challenge, 2005) as Lasko - an ex-soldier retired as a monk.

Unfortunately the weaknesses of Death Train were plethoric: an heavy international casting, exquisitely talented Arnold Vosloo playing 24's Habib Marwan, a script burdened with clichés. It was basically an inflated version of a Walker Texas Ranger two-parter without the Chuckster and its only valuable assets were Landwehr, the reliable Stephan Bieker as Gladius, the scene of the ambulance and the last 15 minutes of the movie. So why bother to watch a regular series three years later? Because Lasko - Die Faust Gottes is 150% better than its pilot. In fact, it's one of the best German shows of these last five years with GSG9 (Special Unit, 2007-2008).

Brother Lasko is a most special monk. He carries the ring of Pugnus Dei ("The Fist of God" in Latin), an ancestral secret monastic order fighting for justice. When an airliner from Congo with Sophia von Erlen (Simone Hanselmann) - a BKA agent - on its board, is derouted by a group of terrorists and forced to land on a road in the middle of the countryside, Lasko gets rid of the assailants the hard way and save Sophia right in front of the counter-terrorist units. The hijack operation was ordered by Ares, an occult lodge within the Vatican, and now Lasko and his loyal friend, the epicurian and sympathetic Brother Gladius, must fight their new dangerous enemy.

With Lasko: The Fist of God, action concept goes back to its roots in absolute brilliance with spectacular action and adventure perfectly fitted into effective scripts and packed with a lot of distance and humor. Mathis Landwehr is charismatic as Lasko and incredible in the fighting sequences (1), Stephan Bieker almost steals the show as Gladius, heir of a long string of faithful acolytes from Friar Tuck to Obelix and Bud Spencer. First class German actor André Hennicke is the BKA boss after playing the same kind of character in GSG9. The concept of the modern monk warrior has been retooled with hard work and it shows: the Ares lodge, a Da Vinci Code type organization, is a great addition.

The revamped Lasko arrives at a moment where German television fiction is in a very bad shape as local viewers favor US cop shows. It's a test for television networks in Germany and for Hermann Joha's company as well. Lasko - Die Faust Gottes is the perfect way to spend a thursday evening on German tv, it's another jewel in the crown of action concept after Alarm for Cobra 11 and The Clown. The series is well played, well filmed - the landscapes are stunningly beautiful (the show will certainly boost tourism on the shooting sites), well scripted and the soundtrack is great too.

More than Entertainment... A state of mind. (In German) (Trailer)

(1) Warren Murphy would certainly differ but I firmly believe since The Challenge that Mathis Landwehr would be a fantastic Remo Williams. In the past your humble servant even tried to whisper in the ear of action concept the idea to buy the rights of The Destroyer series for an adaptation.

See also:

(C) Thierry Attard

Friday, 3 July 2009


The BBC has decided to axe Robin Hood after three series, 39 episodes, and a tragical finale followed by less than 2 million viewers (which is not the only thing tragical, characters die too...) « The decision signals the end of a brief renaissance in Saturday evening television made for a family audience in the wake of BBC1's successful revival of Doctor Who, four years ago » writes the excellent website of the as excellent The Guardian (

« Many of the Saturday evening dramas being axed will be replaced by talent shows and reality programmes, which attract huge audiences but are much cheaper to make » goes on The Guardian, naming the two ITV major casualties of the year, Demons and Primeval, with Who and Robin Hood, as shows "supposed to herald a return to the glory days of TV, when families sat down together on a Saturday night to watch British dramas". Actually Demons will be remembered as a creative fiasco and a total waste of the incommensurable talent of Philip Glenister. And the end of the costly Primeval after a terrible third series, along with the renewal of Lewis, is a signal that ITV wants a smaller but better drama lineup and leaves the "f" word to the BBC. Franchise, we mean.

Let's face it, Robin Hood had its share of problems: the ratings, the shooting in Hungary, its star leaving the show, the fact that it was no Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986) in a genre that will not be the same after Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire. And its conception in the wake of the Doctor Who franchise, like Merlin. It seems that the hypothetical fourth series of Robin Hood was meant to be closer to Who in conception terms, with writer Sally Wrainwright consulted by the Beeb: « The BBC has asked me to take over Robin Hood in a way Russell [T. Davies] does on Doctor Who » declared the creator of At Home With the Braithwaites (2000-2003) to The Stage (

Technically at least Robin Hood and Merlin are not remakes, rather the "reinvention" (that word, again...) of old myths. But before recession calmed down projects to emulate the modern version of Doctor Who and its profits, the trend was to search with frenzy every back catalogue available in quest of the new Gallifreyan cash cow. Without credit crunch there would be all the revivals you can imagine: Department S with Stephen Fry as Jason King investigating on "CSI meets Fringe" cases. Robert Glenister as John Steed in a reinvention of The Avengers. Or Grant Show and Billie Piper in Dempsey & Makepeace (with Ross Kemp as Spikings)... The possibilities were infinite.

« Recession forces end to renaissance in TV dramas », writes The Guardian. Well, the quest for "franchisable" shows was already slowing down the creativity of television fiction in the UK. Maybe Torchwood: Children of Earth and its five-episode story will show us that less can be more in recession times. British Television is the home of Martina Cole's The Take or of The Fixer. There is no John Mercer action figure yet but these shows don't play in the "fun for the whole family" category. Saturday evening family audiences need a new and strictly original show, not a franchise wannabe chaneling the revenues of the Who licenses.

See also:

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


It will be absolutely not a surprise for the readers of this blog [I promised I will not borrow Nikki Finke's "Toldja!" again so this will do]: Sci Fi (soon SyFy) is developing a remake of Alien Nation. A reinvention, as they say now. In May, your humble French scribe wrote: « Monuments should stay untouched, and if the new V succeeds expect Alien Nation 2010 » ( They didn't wait...

Alien Nation started as a 1988 movie directed by Graham Baker, written by Rockne S. O'Bannon, and starring James Caan and Mandy Patinkin as an unlikely cop duo: a maverick human cop veteran and an alien detective in a Los Angeles where an alien civilization, the Newcomers, is integrated within our society but is victim of discrimination. In 1989 20th Century Fox Television and Kenneth Johnson (V) launched a television series adapted from the movie for the Fox network, but Fox cancelled the show after only one season. In April 1991, the mythical magazine Epi-Log wrote: « Has anyone hosed down the Fox Network corporate offices with salt water yet? » (1) The flesh of the Newcomers could be disintegrated by salt water and they could get drunk with sour milk.

From 1994 to 1997 Alien Nation was revived for a series of made-for-TV movies. And now, Tim Minear - an expert in science fiction, is working on a "reinvention" of the franchise for SyFy/Sci Fi, and Fox 21 (2). Variety explains:« The new Alien Nation will likely take place in the Pacific Northwest, and will take place about 20 years after the first ship of aliens - who have been banished as slaves - crash lands into Earth. By the time the show begins, some time in the 2020s, the alien population has multiplied from a few thousand to 3,5 million. And much of the "newcomers" live their own segregated existence, in what Minear compares to the North African ghettos in France ». The "North African ghettos in France"?! Er, maybe this needs a little specification.

Sci Fi wants a successor to Battlestar Galactica. « It's absolute perfect timing for this type of show » says Chris Carlisle, president of Fox 21 (3). No doubt about that, now Sony can revive Something is out there (1988). The Xenomorph beats them all, it will eat them all too.

(1) Epi-Log #7, June 1991.
(2) (3)