The TV networks are getting edgier in their ’06 pilot plans.
The nets have filled their development slates with a bevy of brave ideas and bold format experiments, VARIETY reports on Monday, including shows about THE END OF AMERICA!
ABC alone has at least two would-be shows set in post-apocalyptic America (“Resistance” and “Red & Blue”) while Gavin Polone and Bruce Wagner are teaming for the comfy-sounding plague drama “Four Horsemen” at CBS (which also is developing “Jericho,” about life in a small town after America is destroyed).
It gets better:
Says Fox exec VP Craig Erwich: “The creative community appears to be really inspired this year,” he says. “It was an exciting time to be buying. I came away pretty encouraged about network TV.”
Imagine if, just a few years into the Cold War, Hollywood made a bunch of movies depicting the US under Communist rule. Or if Casablanca ended with Rick shooting Laszlo and selling off Ilsa to Major Strasser. Now imagine that studio executives called those creative decisions “inspired” and “exciting.”
UPDATE: Jeff Harrell comments:
I’m pretty sure Hollywood did make a lot of movies about America under communist rule or similar totalitarianisms. They were cautionary tales.
I don’t understand why some people seem to jump to the conclusion that any time somebody tells a story about something, they’re advocating that thing. Sometimes we tell stories about things that we do not actually want to come to pass, you know?
Personally, I happen to like dark stories. I like it when the good guys are flawed. I happen to like the fact that Sherlock Holmes was a drug addict (just like his modern-day avatar, Dr. House). Does that mean I revel in depravity or think drugs are just peachy keen? No. It just means I’m entertained by that kind of thing.
I like dark stories, too, just like Jeff. Hell, I think House, MD is a damn fine TV show. Or at least the first season was. In the second season, we hardly ever see House pop any pills – and they have him romantically pursuing his ex-wife.* Fox, sadly, has de-humanized House, by skimping on his vices while accentuating his newfound Hollywood virtues. Another thing. For those in the know, the House/Holmes connection was self-evident. In last week’s episode, we were “treated” to multiple shots of the address of House’s townhome: 221B. It’s one thing to imply a connection to Holmes; it’s another to hit us over the head with it.
And thus by the Death of a Thousand Popular Cuts does a good TV show turn to rot.
Now to Jeff’s first point. The only movie I can think of even close to what Jeff describes is The Machurian Candidate. Of course, it came out in 1962 – 15 years into the Cold War, and not the “first few years” I mentioned above. Of course, there was also Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which came out in 1956. Although as a low-budget sci-fi parable, I’m not sure how many people got the anti-communist message. It’s instructive to keep in mind that the 1993 remake of Body Snatchers took place on a US Army base, and that in John Demme’s 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, the bad guys were Americans.
There’s yet another remake of Snatchers due out next year, starring Nicole Kidman. Lord only knows what Hollywood will do to it this time.
*Fair enough. If Sela Ward was my ex, I’d be pursuing her, too. With a machete and handcuffs, if needed.