Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #608: Why Why West?

Welcome to the show folks....

You gotta love Hollywood, they never know when to let sleeping dogs lie. The latest news is that Ron Moore, who successfully revived
Battlestar Galactica for SyFy, has been commissioned to breathe new life into the 1960s spy-western-spoof Wild Wild West.

For those who don't know
Wild Wild West was a series about two 1870s secret service agents, suave man of action Jim West, and gadget & disguise expert Artemus Gordon, who went around the old west saving it, and the nation from various madmen and women bent on conquest and/or chaos. It was basically James Bond on a horse, and its reliance on 1870s style gadgetry was sort of a precursor to today's steampunk.

Now there was an attempt to bring the show to the big screen with a mega-budget feature film starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline that was a monstrous mega-flop in 1999. The most you need to know about that movie was that it had the same plot as the recent
Jonah Hex movie, and a giant mechanical spider to make producer Jon Peters happy.

Now I think there are two ways Mr. Moore can do this project, both are fraught with danger.

1. GO CAMPY: Basically doing what the movie did, and use the show's fairly silly premise as the foundation for a pure farce with outrageously cartoonish characters, over the top special effects, and outlandish action. The problem with this is that it could easily degenerate into a 1 joke show, and viewers could tune out very quickly. The audience tuned out from the movie extremely quickly.

2. GO DARK: This is going the completely different direction. Transform the show from a James Bond spoof into a more serious steampunk/alternate history kind of show with more complex story arcs. The risk here is going too dark, and completely turning off viewers expecting lighthearted adventure.

Going down the dark path will need a lot of hard work to pull off, and they must do things like:

1. Make the world they live in believable, but show just how wildly different it is from the world we know. They need to completely separate this alternate history from real history for the audience to fully accept its fantastical elements. Set up an event in the back-story that everyone knows, and then change it up. Perhaps Lincoln surviving the attack by John Wilkes Booth, or something like that, to show how drastic the change in the course of history will be.

2. Study the history, legends, and literature, of the era and see how it can translate into this new alternate-history that's been created. Also look at the technology and science for gadgetry that is believable within the laws of this new alternate universe.

3. Don't do yet another "Confederate wants to re-start the Civil War" storyline. That's been beaten to bloody death. This is alternate history, maybe include the threat of war with a then French ruled Mexico, Russians operating out of Alaska, and the Canadians being up to something, because they're just acting too nice to not be up to something. Audiences want variety and novelty and the show has to deliver it. The American West of that era is a big prize that a lot of nations would have coveted, well, in this alternate universe they're capable of at least trying to get it.

4. Don't be afraid to do something crazy, but please no robot spiders.

While I would like to see something new given a chance, I do hope that this doesn't become the massive waste of money and resources the feature film was.


  1. je pressman7/10/10 12:53 am

    Dear Furious D, Your suggestions for a Wild Wild West reboot are too tasteful and interesting. That has to stop as you are aware it would all be rejected and reviled by the executives,who are repulsed by good ideas. Sort of like garlic and vampires. Now wait a minute ,how about teenage vampires and werewolves in the 19th century battling it out with Secret Service agents from D.C.? Said vampires would have to be shirtless and vacant looking.

  2. Wild Wild West remake sound just as bad as the NHL superhero comics, which would be much like what the WWE is doing with its superstars and comic lines.

    Those WWE comics on the most part SUCK.

  3. Agree completely about an alternative reality steam punk WWW. The original WWW was a fantasy western, so go all the way. The blunder made by Sonnenfeld on the movie was having Smith as West and then tying it back to the civil war - forcing a serious racial subtext in a light entertainment movie. That and not showing nearly enough of Salma Hayek's bare backside.

    I thought Smith and Klein had a good chemistry going and if they had kept to a true alternate reality they would have had a kick ass movie.