Last week, Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchman got all ranted up about the need for TV to come up with something new. On actual Old Media television, I mean. Web series are something else. Or at least they should be…as in original.
This week, well, it’s looking like I’m going to have to dish up more of – choke! – the same. I’d apologize, but it seems to me that’s the broadcast and cable channels job, They’re the ones still pushing the same old TV dreck, right?
The latest example of WTF Fuck TV comes from Vampira herself – Annie Rice. You remember Ms. Annie, don’tcha? She’s the one began the whole modern vampire genre with her book Interview with the Vampire back in 1976, then, in 2005 when she and critics alike realized the vampire scene had itself become a night of the living dead abandoned it in favor of a kind of Christian sleaze thing in which she gave good ole Jezuz a pop bio fix. Just a few years later she realized that the Anne Rice audience was not much interested in God and returned to her vamps, writing the same kind of crap as before except with much less energy. Now, deciding that it’s her bank account that needs reviving, the writer has decided to go all Game of Thrones on her unsuspecting faithful and turn her vampire oeuvre into a never-ending TV bloodbath, with her son acting as exec producer of whatever the hell she’s up to cuz…blood, you know?
Baron Von Munchbatten here is pretty damn sure the Rice TV plunge will be iced by all but the more credulous of her fans, but here’s another rehash type show that probably will get more traction, probably because it’s based on something whose source is a tad more recent: The 2014 feature film Snowpiercer. As far as I could tell when my then girlfriend the hipster tied me into a chair, propped me eyelids open with barbs she’d removed from her old barbed wire emo costume and forced me to watch this meaningless drivel, the only thing interesting about Snowpiercer was the fact that it packed so much action into such a relatively short time and confined setting that its cult audience never had a chance to realize that absolutely nothing in the premise, backstory, or visible behavior of the characters made sense. Audiences being as, um, suggestible as they are, this same trick may indeed work in a TV version, where a lack of rational human behavior has become the norm for most of the series in the past decade. In other words, I’m predicting that the marching morons of the millennial will lap Snowpiercer up like my late lamented cocker spaniel scarfed down his own, eh, caca. Please, God, let me be as wrong as Anne Rice was about you!
Have you watched TV Land’s new original series called Younger? What didja think? An astounding number of reviewers have loved this series about “a newly divorced, 40-year-old mom trying to re-enter the workplace,” but Munchikins has found it to be amazingly clueless about how genuine 40-year-olds, i.e. geriatric cases by TV executive standards, think and behave. The mindset of everybody in this fiasco is stuck in a vapid, empty, pre-teen slot. I’d call it a rut, but ruts are deeper. And it isn’t exactly a groove either, becuz grooves are cooler. It’s just…D-U-M-B.
The goode ole U.S. of A. isn’t the only country where TV creativity definitely needs to be made great again. In the Hindustan Times recently Indian TV star Reena Kapoor has had this to say: “A lot needs to develop when it comes to television. I will say we have not progressed at all and have only gone backwards. People don’t make shows anymore, the way they were made earlier and I miss that.” Whoa! Coming from the star of Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki, that’s really harsh criticism, yeah?
LB keeps saying that if I can’t write positive comments throughout this column I should at least end on an upbeat note, and I agree with him. So here’s a positive thought that I really mean: Chuck Lorre, a punching bag for so many critics who adore shows like Younger as well as a currently has-been actor named Charlie Sheen, is still alive and writing and producing comedies that never cease to make this Munchamaniac laugh. Dude has a studio full of talented writers who come up with new wackiness week after week on series after series, and I’m grateful as hell that he’s still in the network TV game. To be precise, I’m thrilled that Chuck is allowed to be in the game. He’s 64, y’know, and if he doesn’t start dyeing his beard to match the inky blackness of his hair somebody in the executive suite’s going to catch on and Chuck will be as dead in the biz as another once famous Lorre – Peter – is in real life.
That’s it for this week. Seeya soonish with more musings about Love, Money, and the dirty job of writing for TV!
When I was a wee lad in Dublin, my parents’ generation had a saying. “Old wine in new bottles” was their oh-so-intellectual way of saying that a recent film or play or book or short story, whatever, wasn’t exactly as new as it claimed. It had been done before, usually by somebody else, but its essence, for better or for worse, was repackaged and put out before the public.
In other words, yeppers, kids, this was the polite way of saying, “Jeezus, dude, can’t you fucking come up with anything new?!” Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchman brings this up becuz guess what? Today’s column is filled with old wine, new bottles, and – but oui, oui, monsieur, pinheaded intellectuals using bullshit phrases to hide from the truth. Cases in point:
M.Night Shyamalan, everybody’s favorite failed writer, known for his one-note, no-longer-shocking-or-surprising storytelling, is presiding over a new series on TNT. Or maybe it’s TBS. Hard to tell, because equally failed former Fox exec Kevin Reilly is busy screwing up both those networks now, and damned if I can make myself listen to the man long enough to remember what he’s saying. At any rate, Shyamalannadingdong, as his former schoolmates so fondly remember him, says he’ll be doing a new version of Tales from the Crypt, a series based not on the older series of the same name – oh noo, that would be too easy – but on the EC comic book title that other series was based on. He also says he’ll be using many of the stories from the comic series, and while that should be something to cheer about because those stories are just plain funny, scary, and all-around great, poor Munchamatic here is feeling nothing but dismay. Third generation re-do? M.Night Shyamalan? Every time I close my eyes I see the original writers and artists from the comic pushing their way up and out of their graves and trudging, slithering, and stomping their way to Nighty-Night’s abode to drag him into the nearest swamp.
More old wine is being poured into another new(ish) bottle by CBS, that warm and wonderful network headed by the Great Satan Himself, Les Moonves (who really should be called “Least Moonves” to memorialize his success in giving his viewers the absolute very least in every show CBS presents). This particular outrage is mostly a technical one: Colorized episode of the beloved old Dick Van Dyke Show coming to our local mini and maxi web and TV screens next month as a CBS special called The Dick Van Dyke Show – Now in Living Color! As me sainted Jewish Uncle from Riga used to say, “Oy! Acholer!” Nope, sorry, yer Munchamigo is clueless about what that means (let along how I should’ve spelt it), but believen sie mir when I tells ya that when Uncle Abe said that little phrase it definitely sounded obscene.
What? You say you’ve had enough? Well, so have I, but let’s talk about more wine about to be made into vinegar. Syfy, home of Sharknado and its even worse descendants, has announced that along with 6 or 7 or maybe it’s 8 Paramount and NBC Universal Cable Entertainment producers Syfy is proudly developing Robert E. Heinlein’s classic novel, Stranger in a Strange Land as a series. Although I, Muncherovsky, don’t think the book, about a human raised by Martians who returns to earth complete with superpowers and super sophomoric philosophy and super sexiness is nearly as good as most people say, it’s certainly stayed popular forever. Will it survive Syfy? Or will it go right down the same shitter as the rest of that channel’s failed adaptations? Oh, well, the good news is that when it fails I won’t have to defend my unpopular position on the subject anymore.
Do I sound mad to you all? Is my ranting bugging you? Then probably you should click away from TVWriter™ now becuz the re-do that’s upsetting me most is now up at bat. I’m talking about the news that the Herman Miller company has totally revised its famed – and fantastical and comfy as a big fuzzy bunny sleeping bag – Aeron chair, beloved by rich corporate executives and not quite as rich literary agents and even less rich than that TV writer kingpins. According to the announcement, “When Aeron debuted in 1994, it was a chair unlike any the world had ever seen. It didn’t just change how peoplesat, but what they thought a chair could be. But a lot has changed since then, so it made sense that Aeron should change too.” Um, made sense to whom, pray tell? To idiot believers in false equivalencies? In other words (and this will be the last thing my wildly Munchalating heart will let me say) the times they are a’changing. Witnesseth:
Ah, original perfection!
OMG! Robots’ Revenge!
That’s it for this week. Seeya soonish with more musings about Love, Money, and tushie breaking metallic monsters for writers of TV!
More thoughts from Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchman, a guy acknowledged the world over (or at least within the room in which this is being typed) as a penetrating and trenchant observer and occasional conspirator in today’s TV scene:
Word around the interwebs is that Disney, Amazon, and Apple are all looking into buying Netflix, which tells you bud Muncholo here that those of us who lurve the fact that Neflix is all about entertainment and nothing but (yeppers, I mean me! me! me!) could be in deep schitt because becoming part of just another diversified portfolio means the end of excellence as we know it. Think about it, y’all. Every time the “our shareholders don’t care about the product, all the want is immediate profit” boys have moved in, audiences have suffered. Why, I remember back when I was Euripedes’ go-fer….
Didja know that Black Sails is coming back for a fourth season on Starz? Do yez know why? Me neither, kidz. And I remember when Starz boss Chris Albrecht was a programming genius! Of course, he was also bopping his girlfriend in public back in those halcyon HBO days, so maybe his lost touch means he’s a better human being now, hey?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is being developed for TV by Universal Cable Productions. Munchhausen was all thumbs-up on the Charlie Kaufman-Pierre Bismuth feature film, but this version’s going to one of the geniuses behind Human Target, Mad Dogs, and Forever, credits much more suited for a certain male member that rhymes with the aforementioned “genius” word but starts with a “P.”
Speaking of Schitt, as in Deep Schitt, sorry Canadians, but no matter how hard I try I can’t find a single thing to laugh at in that very rapturously reviewed fraud. Like the old saying sez, “Schitty is as shitty does.” (Come on, there must be some old saying that says that…or at least something like it, yeah?)
To end on a more positive note, the interwebs have been showing Amazon Prime’s first trailer for The Grand Tour and – wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, shockarooney – looks like the old Top Gear gang of Clarkson, Hammond, and May are gonna pull it off. Damn show looks and sounds glorious. Hmm, maybe things won’t be so bad if Amazon buys Netflix after all. But don’t believe my munchin’ mouth. Have a look-see for yerself:
That’s it for this week. Seeya next time with more TV joy!