Thursday, 2 August 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #935: Bad Idea / Good Idea / Bad Idea


Actor and producer Vince Vaughn is in talks to produce a TV series continuation of the cheesy family sitcom The Brady Bunch.

If you've lived in a cave for the last century the original Brady Bunch show was a sitcom about a widower with 3 sons and a widow with 3 daughters, who get married, create TV's first blended family, and wacky hijinks ensue.

Vaughn's production would follow the youngest Brady son, now a middle aged divorced dad, who marries a divorced mother, and wacky hijinks ensue.

Now I've heard that Vaughn's a nice guy, and all that, but I think this is a mistake. There have been half a dozen attempts to extend or revive the franchise ever since the bloom went off the show's rose, from adding Cousin Oliver, to a variety show, to spin-offs, to reunion specials, and they all failed. Then there were the 2 hyper-ironic 90s parody-remake movies that while modestly successful were very quickly forgotten as a 1-joke property that went on too damn long.

While the whole blended family concept was new and novel with the original series, it's been done, it's old hat, and unless you're willing to go into Dan Harmon-esque insanity, pretty much all the material is going to be well retreaded.

What do you think about this idea Victorian Era Gentleman?
Yep, me too.


Producer Hutch Parker has inked a deal for a TV series adaptation of the Dave Robicheaux novels best-selling mystery author James Lee Burke.

If you're unfamiliar with Dave Robicheaux he's the star detective of a series of 19 novels by Burke set in Louisiana. He's a Vietnam vet, a recovering alcoholic, and former New Orleans police detective who becomes the main detective for the New Iberia Sheriff's department.

He's been adapted for the big screen twice. First with Heaven's Prisoners in 1996 starring Alec Baldwin, and In The Electric Mist in 2009 with Tommy Lee Jones. The first film was a box office failure, and the second movie wasn't even released theatrically in the USA.

That leads me to why I think adapting the books into a TV series is probably the best thing for the author and the books.

Adapting the individual books into feature films means that each novel has to go through years of development, and if they're luck enough to be made, they're only going to be lost in the shuffle as the major studios chase a decreasing number of mega-blockbusters and forget how to make and market the smaller scale, non-spectacle movies.

Television is the perfect medium for a adapting a series of mystery novels. They can begin with book one and have a much freer hand adapting them without having to cram them into a less than 2 hour package. They can do each novel as a one and done TV movie, a multi-part miniseries, or as a series of 1 hour "chapters." Whatever suits the material best is there for them to use.

Also cable TV is much freer subject-matter wise than feature films which fear losing money because of the dreaded "R" rating.

British television has had a lot of success adapting the books and beyond of popular detective novelists in this way. Shows like Inspector Morse, Midsomer Murders, and Agatha Christie's Poirot, not only do well domestically but sell internationally, enjoying multiple airings in markets all over the world.

So I wish them good luck with this project, and would like to see more like it.


The ABC network has inked a deal with mega-movie producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura to produce a series called Founding Fathers.

The series is about a veteran who returns home to Texas and gets mixed up with the sinister militia movement.

Now that idea would have been cutting edge and daring and relevant if this was 1994.

The militia movement was an offshoot of the survivalism of the 1980s. When fear of nuclear war died down with the fall of the Soviet Union it was replaced with fear of an overreaching and oppressive federal government.

These fears were stoked when raids by federal authorities in Waco Texas, and Ruby Ridge Idaho ended in violence and deaths. For most of the early 1990s the militias were a popular bogeyman in the media, waiting in the woods, getting increasingly radicalized and racially polarized, heavily armed and just itching to overthrow the government on a moment's notice. A lot of the fear mongering was exaggerated, especially since the biggest danger wasn't from any armed group, but from a maniacal lone wolf.

It all came to a head when Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal office building in Oklahoma City killing 168 and wounding 800. While his act was not an operation by any known militia group, he was a known militia sympathizer, and claimed that his motive for the attack was to inspire a revolt to overthrow the federal government.

Well, in reality, it turned out that very few people in the militia movement wanted to be associated with a man who blew up a day care center, and the whole movement started to fizzle out. 

True, there are still several dozen "militias" out there, but the days when they were considered a clear and relevant danger to the country are long over.

So why do a show about militias?

I think the motive is more political than commercial. Right now the USA is extremely polarized and Hollywood loves to associate people they don't agree with politically with violent fringe movements.

Personally, I don't think much will come from this project, it will either fizzle out in development, or last about three episodes and get cancelled. Because while they may love sending a message, if it doesn't pay the bills, they might as well just post a blog at the Huffington Post, it's much cheaper.

What do you think Victorian Era Gentleman?
Too true, too true.


  1. There are far more TV shows based on books for the reasons you said.

    True Blood, Game of Thrones and Vampire Diaries all of these are based on books that were released years ago.

    I think the Vampire Diaries books all came out in the 1990's that was a reaction to the success of the twilight films.

  2. I wonder if they'll change the guy from a Vietnam vet to Iraq/Afghan War vet like BBC's Sherlock did?

  3. Gary- TV is becoming more literary, thanks to cable and their greater programming flexibility.

    Kit- Another thing they can do is just set the early books at the time they were written. TV fakes the middle ages, the 1960s, and other eras all the time. It's not rocket science to fake the late 1980s-2000s.

  4. Sandy Petersen3/8/12 1:19 pm

    Tim McVeigh wasn't (as you mentioned) a militia member - just a militia wannabee - he was REJECTED by the militia. How pathetic is that?

    Re: setting a show in the late 1980s. The problem here is that the late 1980s aren't cool. Or at least don't seem that way to me. Perhaps Gen Y-ers differ.

  5. Sandy--

    Re McVeigh: Technically I didn't say he was a militia member, I said that McVeigh was a militia sympathizer which is a euphemism for wannabe.

    Re 1980s: The kids may see novelty in jumbo-sized cell phones and really slow and feeble computers.

    1. Rainforest Giant here,

      Militias are so Clinton era it's well past the freshness date. But our Victorian gentleman is sure to get a workout in the future over evil rightwing patriots of one brand or another might as well be this. I don't think they'll set it in modern times it would be too easy to remind people of Fast and Furious and Ruby Ridge and Waco would always be in the background. Better to show how dastardly they were to make it clear they get what they deserve.

      There's plenty of crime junk out there not sure if one more makes a difference one way or another. Any time you write about a Baldwin it should be accompanied by a picture to avoid confusion.

      The chick from Dodgeball that was in the latest Brady Bunch stuff and is hot so if she's in it I'll watch it. Just kidding, I hate the Brady Bunch. Vince can find much better material to work on.

  6. Sandy Petersen7/8/12 12:17 pm

    Well at least in using Militias it's not an evil corporation or evil gummint spooks. That at least is a slight twist.

    Looking at what I just wrote, I realize that what I am basically saying is, if you're thirsty, you'll drink out of a mud puddle.

  7. Rainforest Giant here,


    "If ever I meet one of you Texas waddies who ain't drunk water from a hoofprint, I think I'll... I'll shake their hand or buy 'em a Daniel Webster cigar."

    I feel the same way about movies/TV that Rooster felt about Texans' bragging. It has become predictable and boring. That whole secret/super powerful government agency/agent thing is so old and busted that it should get its own genre name. 'Three Days of the Condor' was a good movie and I think it still holds up pretty well.

    'Salt', 'Bourne', 'Hanna', etc are Chris Tucker level 'real villain rule' predictable/boring.