The migration from feature films to television continues apace.
The latest group to join it are the one-time indie/Oscar darlings Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who are expanding their TV investments and looking for broadcasters. So let's look at the different projects they're proposing and weigh the pros and cons.
SIN CITY: Based on the comic book series by artist/provocateur Frank Miller, and the 2005 film adaptation directed mostly by Robert Rodriguez, Miller, and a bit by Quentin Tarantino. The series is supposed to follow the long-promised Sin City feature film sequel which has been wallowing in development hell since 2006.
The premise is that it's all a big fat film-noir pastiche set in a terminally corrupt town call Basin City. In Basin City just about everyone is a criminal, even the police, the politicians, and the clergy, ranging from petty prostitutes to predators and all points in between. The comic and the movie followed several interlocking stories set in this milieu.
One of the key selling points of the comic and the movie was visual. The use of high-contrast, hyper-stylized black and white imagery with only intermittent slashes of colour made the comic and the movie stand out from the rest.
But I have some trepidation about it as a TV series.
First is that the comic and the film is just a little "too much" for television. It's not so much a film but a full on sensory onslaught, stocked with over the top grotesque characters and even more over the top story lines that go from the usual noir-tropes of corruption and betrayal to include sexual perversion and even cannibalism at just about every facet of society. As I said, even the clergy is complicit in all of it. (Which has the potential for the whole offend/bore matrix* I regularly warn about.)
That might be a little too much for audiences to take in a weekly TV series.
Plus, they've been promising a sequel movie going on 8 years and despite dozens of announcements regarding casting and starting production it's been nothing.
So I won't actually believe it until after I see it.
THE MIST: Based on the novella by Stephen King and the 2007 movie directed by Frank Darabont. The plot is fairly straightforward. A bunch of average people are trapped in a grocery store when a strange mist bearing horrible monsters envelopes their town.
But that's not all, a crazy lady named Mrs. Carmody decides that she's the expert on religion, and that the mist is God's punishment for not taking Chick Tracts as gospel, and convinces most of the trapped townsfolk that sacrificing random children is what Jesus wants them to do because she says so.
Now the proposal is to extend the novella's rather compact storyline into a 10 part miniseries. Which probably means expanding the character of the villainous religious fanatic Mrs. Carmody whose cartoonish interpretation of Christianity once again sparked the whole offend/bore matrix which is probably why the 2007 film failed to crack $60 million worldwide despite generally positive reviews.
BOOK OF THE DEAD: The premise is a 10 part detective drama set in Ancient Egypt. Which, it has a really good script, might have the right blend of exoticism and suspense with some intelligent plotting to make a good event type series.
MARCO POLO: For the historically ignorant, Marco Polo was one of the few Europeans of his day to voyage overland to China and back, and not only did he live to tell the tale of his journeys, he wrote them down.
Now the Weinsteins aren't happy with just a voyage across the legendary Silk Road to China. They're planning to toss in shitloads of Kung Fu action, and by the time it airs there's a good chance of an all hip-hop soundtrack.
Sounds like a lot of 'feh' to me.
10 COMMANDMENTS: We got Moses, we got the burning bush, and we got an exodus from Egypt in a mega-miniseries event.
Sounds like a recipe for epic drama, but it will rely heavily on the quality of the script, the cast, and the directing if it's going to sell to the audience.
|Tolstoy, TV Star?|
WAR & PEACE: Leo Tolstoy's epic novel of life and love during Russia's war with Napoleon gets the miniseries treatment in this pitch. Costume dramas do sell as long as they got the quality to back them up. If made right, and sold right, it could be a hit.
However, the marketing has a significant hump to get over, namely the book's reputation as a hefty tome that's hard to get through because of its length and subject matter.
*The Offend/Bore Matrix comes from the use of insulting portrayals of politically correct targets to create a false sense of controversy and edginess that appeals to critics and the Axis of Ego, but only serve to offend a large swathe of the audience and bore the rest. While it's loved inside the Axis of Ego, it doesn't sell tickets.