Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #920: Barbarella The Series?

Gaumont TV, producer Martha De Laurentiis, and director Nicholas Refn are joining forces to make a TV series based on Barbarella.

For those who aren't familiar with the subject Barbarella is a character that first appeared in France as a serialized magazine comic strip for adults. She's a sexy scantily clad secret agent who bops around the galaxy, bops various galactic characters, and occasionally saves the Universe from the threat of orgasm based weaponry. 

There was a Barbarella movie made in 1968 by director Roger Vadim starring his then wife Jane Fonda, and talk about a sequel/remake has been bouncing around the movie business since the 1970s, but so far this TV attempt is the closest any such project has come to being made so far.

So let's take a look at the Pros & Cons!


1. Barbarella is considered by many to be a pop culture touchstone with both the comic and the movie more or less sharing a dedicated cult following.


1. That cult following is, while vocal, relatively small and doesn't really extend much beyond people in the movie and comics business.
2. The original Jane Fonda/Roger Vadim movie was a box office turkey that only has the reputation it has because of the overweening nostalgia for all things from the 1960s, regardless of quality. Also, if you watch the movie without the help of mind-altering chemicals you will wonder what the hell all the hype was about. 

3. Story wise it's not much to work with since it lost its novelty as the seminal work of "sexy sci-fi." The one-note character of Barbarella goes around the galaxy, has sex with people in strange and exotic locations, then does something to stop a villain's inane scheme. It's pretty much already a self-parody. Parody TV shows don't last very long because the joke loses its potency with each retelling.

Personally, I don't really think this idea is going to get past the pilot stage unless there's some sort of radical re-imagining of the character and the premise, and even then it will have a struggle, because the brand is pretty well associated with late 60s/70s tackiness.

That's what I think, what do you think?


  1. Actually, I find the idea of a Barbarella TV series intriguing. Certainly it will take a "radical re-imagining of the character and the premise", but that won't be difficult due to the very "one-note" nature of the heroine's character.

    The only "con" I can see (at least until I see what flaws there may be in final concept and casting) is the "sexy" aspect won't translate well. The character's (and franchise's) reputation for titillation won't fly on network TV (yes, even in this more permissive era), unless HBO or Showtime or another premium service picks up the series. And even then, the skimpy outfits and her willingness to use her sex appeal to accomplish her goals would run afoul of today's feminist puritans!

    1. The "re-imagining" that I've heard about is that the powers that be have been planning to make Babs into a female James Bond -- grittier, darker, yada yada blah blah blah.

      Which essentially means nothing too revealing, like what Charlize Theron demanded for Aeon Flux.

      As long as Babs is played by a hot actress, and she has to spend most of each episode in an excessive machine, I have absolutely no problem with any changes.

  2. I see this as a pungent last gasp of the boomer age execs still holding out in corner offices in Los Angeles, eager to wring some last priapic jolt out of the business where they once held hedonic sway by reviving one of their favorite wank fantasies before their prostates explode and the Cialis stops taking effect. There's no other explanation for such patent foolishness.