There was a bit of a splash last week when it was revealed that Fox might, finally, be interested in revisiting the Firefly property. The word used was “reboot”, not revival or renewal, but the company’s apparent make-or-break factor was that they would only revisit it if Joss Whedon was interested in coming back to run the whole deal. Presumably, eternally optimistic Browncoats everywhere raised a cheer of joy, their hope renewed. But should Firefly come back to the airwaves?
Frankly, I think that’s a terrible idea.
Well, to be clearer, it’s a terrible idea unless they address the various and sundry deeply problematic problems that the original series had. The issue I’m coming up against is this: I suspect that eliminating all of these problems would make a show that barely resembles the beloved-by-many original. The show suffered from a variety of racisms with a strong sexist undercurrent, and these were not so much vague issues as they were built into the worldbuilding of the show, deep down in the foundations. Let’s get digging, shall we?
Premiering tonight on Fox is Son of Zorn, a thoroughly silly semi-animated sitcom starring Jason Sudeikis, Cheryl Hines, and Tim Meadows, with Johnny Pemberton as the titular Son. There’s a preview episode available online, with thirteen total episodes to come this fall.
Son of Zorn has a high-concept premise to be sure: Zorn (voiced by Sudeikis), a clear homage to the 1980s animated version of He-Man, returns from the land of Zephyria to get involved in the life of his son, Alangulon—or “Alan” to his friends. Because Zorn’s baby momma isn’t She-Ra or any other sort of Amazonian heroine: she’s Edie (Hines), a perfectly mundane woman living an ordinary life with her new fiancé, psychology professor Craig (Meadows).
However, I haven’t really talked much about the funnest games ever made, and any list thereof would undoubtedly include the Super Smash Bros. series. At its essence, SSB is a response to the question “What if we took everyone’s favorite video game characters and made them fight?”
The day before yesterday, I made loud yelling noises at my computer screen because a thing happened. A particular thing. This thing: it turns out that Fox has tapped (pun intended) writer Simon Kinberg to produce a series of films based on the Magic: the Gathering trading card game. Now, if you don’t know Simon Kinberg, you should; he’s written or produced for Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes,X-Men: First Class,X-Men: Days of Future Past, and other such films. Returning to loud yelling noises, Fox wants to make a “series of films,” creating a Magic: The Gathering cinematic universe.
Now, the film could be a disaster. But I’m much more interested in the film’s potential to be spectacular, or at least meaningful. CGI and make-up technology has come a long way since Dungeons & Dragons, but The Last Airbender is an object lesson in how that does not a great film make. Magic: The Gathering is set in a world (many worlds, really) of swords and sorcery, with elves, dragons, angels, zombies, enchanted automatons and other mystical entities. Certainly, they will need effects technology to bring these creatures and their powers to the screen in convincing ways (if it’s not animated), but the true potential of an MTG cinematic universe is in the diversity of stories that can be told. Continue reading →
Monday night gave us the premiere of Sleepy Hollow, Fox’s modern retelling of the classic Sleepy Hollow short story. It follows Ichabod Crane, who finds himself in the twenty-first century after suffering a near fatal wound back in the eighteenth. He teams up with police officer Lieutenant Abbie Mills, and together they go off to stop the Apocalypse—yes, that Apocalypse. The one the Book of Revelation tells us all about. The Headless Horseman is one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse—Death, to be precise, which is not something I had expected when going into this show. This opens up a whole new can of worms that I didn’t see coming, but I’m glad for it, in all honesty. Without some kind of spin like this on the classic legend, I don’t think a story about just the Headless Horseman would have had a lot of room to work with.
I have high hopes for Sleepy Hollow, especially considering that it’s the network’s highest rated fall drama in quite a few years. Overall, Sleepy Hollow seems to have been well received by general audiences, which is good news for me, since I’m quite certain that I may have already fallen in love with it.
The question above is one that I ask myself on a regular basis. Obviously, there will always be a market for science fiction. Heck, SyFy is still bringing in high numbers regularly, and its original programing is quite good. Other cable networks, like TNT, have one or two sci-fi shows packaged into their lineup, while the big stations like Fox and NBC usually have one new sci-fi show a cycle. ABC’s Once Upon a Time is kicking butt right now, and is putting up good numbers despite currently fighting Sunday Night Football for ratings.
However, I consider Once Upon a Time to be an exception, and I worry for its future, particularly since the “Big Four” networks, CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox, all seem pretty disinterested in sci-fi and fantasy programing.