Everything old is new again: Wonder Woman, Lost in Space, and Big return

brizzle born and bred via photopin cc
brizzle born and bred via photopin cc

 

Karma. What goes around, comes around. Everything old is new again.

Even though their intent may differ, one eternal idea underlies all of these words or phrases – the idea that if you wait around long enough, and in today’s hyper-fast recycling world, that isn’t too long at all (Spiderman re-imagined over and over … and over again, anyone?), what was once old and passe will come screaming back into vogue again, all shiny, new and updated, awash in a wave of rose-tinted nostalgia.

It may sound like an appealing prospect to those of us with fond memories of times gone by, and the TV shows, books, movies, music and comic books that defined them, but much of the time the re-emergence of something old in the clothes of something new simply reminds us that you can never go back; that the past, no matter how glorious it might have been, is just that, the past and should be left basking in the hallowed glow of our fond recollections.

You only have to look to the slew of movie-to-TV adaptations to see how true this often is with failed efforts like Bewitched (2005), Scooby Doo (2002), The Avengers (1998) and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) only serving to tarnish the memory of the wonderful TV shows that inspired them.

And yet despite all this accrued wisdom, painfully gleaned from seeing one too many of these movies in the cinema, there is still a part of me, a hope-springs-eternal masochistic part of me, that still believes you can bring back old pop culture icons and re-invent them in new and exciting ways.

After all, for every Bewitched, there is a Battlestar Galactica, for every Scooby Doo there is The Brady Bunch Movie, proof that it is possible to bring some TV shows and movies back from the dead, provided you have a sufficiently imaginative new take on them that, while honouring what they essentially were, contributes something new to them as well.

And if the following three projects get off the ground, then the latter examples will (hopefully) soon be joined by a number of new re-invented companions …

 

LYNDA CARTER’S WONDER WOMAN

 

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (image (c) Warner Bros Television via Comic Book Brain)
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (image (c) Warner Bros Television via Comic Book Brain)

 

While Superman and Spiderman and Batman seem to get movie after movie made about them with effortless and often uninspired, production line-ease, Wonder Woman can’t seem to land a feature film to save herself (and trust me what with the golden lasso, bullet-deflecting bracelets and a golden belt she is more than capable of doing that) .

It’s a real pity because as one time beauty queen Lynda Carter made abundantly clear in the TV series Wonder Woman, which ran from 1975-1979 and was set in the turbulent times of World War Two, there is a huge amount of dramatic potential in the story of the Paradise Island princess who came to the USA, joined the navy and fought Nazis and any evildoers foolish enough to get in her way.

She was, says Comic Book Brain, the quintessential Wonder Woman:

Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston (and his wife Elizabeth), but Lynda Carter made the character famous in a way that transcended comic books. Carter combined her beauty-contest winning looks with a friendly, honest approach to the character. The TV series (1975-1979) appeared at just the right time to ride the cresting wave of WWII era nostalgia and the changing standards which allowed for the spangled suit, a kind of stars-and-stripes one-piece swim suit.”

So it seems only fitting that she could come alive again in a new digital comic book series which will recreate Wonder Woman as she was brilliantly interpreted by Lynda Carter, according to a report by Bonnie Burton at c|net.

Reporting on the “DC Digital: Download This” panel held at the recently-concluded New York Comic Con, Burton noted that DC Entertainment will launching Wonder Woman ’77 as a digital comic series, debuting with six weekly chapters in December 2014 (they will come out in print in early 2015) “written by Marc Andreyko, with covers from artist Nicola Scott.”

It sounds like an exciting take on Wonder Woman and a clever way to give some new life to this venerable but woefully under-utilised character and one that will pay worthy homage to her considerable legacy.

 

 

LOST IN SPACE

 

The cast of Lost in Space (image via Wikipedia (c) 20th Century Fox Television)
The cast of Lost in Space (image via Wikipedia (c) 20th Century Fox Television)

 

Lost in Space, created by Irwin Allen and which ran from 1965-1968, was one of the staples of my television-viewing childhood (I must hasten to add that I watched the show in re-runs in the ’70s).

The story of the Robinson Family, who were sent on a 5 1/2 mission to the outer reaches of space to find another Earth-like planet that the USA could colonise, only to find themselves flung so far off course by the nefarious Dr Zachary Smith that they became lost in an uncharted galaxy, it was given another lease on life in 1998 when a movie adaptation starring William Hurt and Gary Oldman was released into theatres.

Unfortunately the film, while visually impressive, fell victim to a runaway plot that paid only lip service to the original premise on which the TV show was based, leaving everyone fairly certain that this was one show that should be left well enough alone.

It appears though, according to Hey U Guys, that not everyone shares this view with the announcement that the men behind Dracula Untold, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless will be working with the current rights holder for Lost in Space, Kevin Burns of Synthesis Entertainment, to bring the TV series to the small screen once again at Legendary TV.

As Hey U Guys noted, “this new take on the franchise has seemingly come out of nowhere”, and very little beyond these details is known.

You can only hope though that these men will learn from the mistakes of the film adaptation and deliver a modern interpretation of the show that keeps the best of its premise while updating with some modern touches much like Battlestar Galactica, which is the template for re-interpreting an old TV show in the best possible way.

 

 

BIG

 

Tom Hanks in Big (image via Coverlandia (c) 20th Century Fox)
Tom Hanks in Big (image via Coverlandia (c) 20th Century Fox)

 

Who didn’t want to be all grown up when they were a kid, wishing they could be free to do what they liked when they liked without any adults telling them what to do?

It was all a deceitful fantasy of course, a construct of young minds too new to the world to understand how it really works (adults are in many ways more comprehensively boxed in by regulations and expectations than any child will be) something the protagonist in Penny Marshall’s Big (1988), Josh Baskin (a perfect performance by then rising star Tom Hanks) discovered when a fairground wish to a fortune teller machine Zoltar Speaks seems his catapulted, literally overnight, into the complicated minefield of adulthood.

It’s a charming tale that ultimately reminds us that every adult can benefit from regaining some of the guileless bravado and sheer joy of being a kid, a fun-filled movie with message and heart, which is largely why it has become a classic in the 26 years since its release.

And also why I suspect it is about to be made into a 1/2 hour per episode comedy series, as reported by Hollywood Reporter.

According to the trade journal, the team behind the much-mourned one season only sitcom Enlisted, Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce, is readying what is being described as an “event series” to be screened on Fox with an eventual episode count more closely resembling that of a cable production than a network show.

Big the series, which if done right – and that means capturing the delicate balance of the film which ably explored both the delights and constrictions of adulthood and childhood – will be a delight, is going to be joined by a number of other movie to TV adaptations including Minority Report, also on Fox and Problem Child and Real Genius on NBC, among many, many others.

Everything old really is new again in the hyper-competitive world of the modern TV landscape.

 

Posted In TV

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