Herbie J Pilato: THE LONE RANGER: It Didn’t Have To End This Way

by Herbie J Pilato

moreloneFor some reason, feature film remakes of classic television shows are produced as a joke; as if the original core material of these productions were unworthy from the get-go. But if that was true why would there be any attempt at all of a big-screen redo of a small-screen hit show?

Submitted for everyone’s disapproval at the box-office: the new and present danger of The Lone Ranger, and before that, 2011’s Dark Shadows; both of which just so happen to feature Johnny Depp in a lead role, and covered with overtly-white make-up, nonetheless.

Whether or not Depp was somehow attempting to re-hash his very successful look from his crazy-successful Pirates of the Caribbean films, or whether or not he was somehow attempting to just hide the fact that he was really in the Lone and Shadows films in the first place, let’s hope he’s now moved-on forever from the powdered-white-face look. Let’s hope, too, that the wretched ticket sales that accompanied the Dark and Ranger releases will not sink any future attempts to remake classic television programs for the big screen.


The bottom line: the remake genre is a worthy one, and should be kept alive, but by instating a new direction – far away from the “Hey-let’s-make-fun-of-the-original-TV-show” strategy.

A similar “big-screen-joke” discrepancy transpired more than a few years back with theatrical rehashes of the TV shows, Starsky & Hutch and Charlie’s Angels.

But for some reason, that all changed when in their transference to movie house productions.Now, mind you, these two particular re-dos were not exactly sired from original Shakespearean works. Although both Hutch and Angels came from the wheelhouse mega-genius team of Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, this producing duo was not exactly bumping out Masterpiece Theatre on a weekly basis.

And although, too, Spelling and Goldberg were responsible for much higher-end TV product like The Mod Squad (which itself was remade into a non-jokey-but-just-plain-bad motion picture in 1999) and Family (now that show would make an interesting big-screen movie!), for the most part, their original Starsky and Charlie’s shows were played with straight faces.

lonetontoThe smirky-face of Ben Stiller and broken-nose look of Owen Wilson replaced the original handsome TV mugs of Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. And the elegance and grace of the original Angels Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and the one-and-only Farrah Fawcett was replaced in theatres by the kitschy-messy look of Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Lui.

Ok, fine – so now what?

Who’s going to be cast in the upcoming remakes of Gidget, Perry Mason and Father Knows Best, and how will these potential big-screen productions be played out and presented?

Hopefully, they will be performed and produced with respect for their original creative parentage – and that Johnny Depp will be nowhere in (powdered-white-face) sight.

Author: Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life

2 thoughts on “Herbie J Pilato: THE LONE RANGER: It Didn’t Have To End This Way”

  1. The laff-it-up “21 Jump Street” was a hit, not to mention based on Johnny Depp’s first starring appearance. That’s the way the young studio execs think they have to go with these remakes. They have no respect for the original shows. Are they really doing Father Knows Best? How could you possibly resurrect something that was so set in 1950’s stodginess?

    1. Hey RReed…thanks so very much for your comment.

      I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to do a valid satirical feature film take on a classic TV show, it just puzzles me as to why that is always the first choice of interpretation when such projects are considered for development.

      As to “Father Knows Best,” this show was anything but “stodgy.” In fact, it was one of the best produced, acted, written and directed and well-rounded shows in television history. Contrary to popular belief, it was not sappy and over-simplistic. In fact, its scripts were many times quite brilliant and filled with realistic complications. It was not a sitcom by any means, but rather a family drama with a lot of humor. The stories were top-notch, and the characters behaved in again, very realistic ways. They laughed, they cried, they argued (Mrs. Anderson, the mother, actually scolded her children severely in one episode, and called them “Brats!” – it was unheard of to do anything of the sort at that time!).

      For its time, throughout time and in present time (on Antenna TV), Father Knows Best holds up.

      And instead of turning this family show from early television into a feature film joke (like they did with the Leave It To Beaver movie a few years back), they could play it straight…with a story featuring the challenges of a contemporary family in contemporary times.

      It’s an astounding opportunity to do something great.

      All those involved have to do is again – go back to the original material…study what made it outstanding…and then play it straight…with a contemporary twist.

      It CAN be done!

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