Who Shot Creativity?

Is it live or is it Memorex?

…TNT, if they get their way.  The network is in talks with Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, and Linda Gray to reprise their roles from the original television series, Dallas, in the new version that the station will be bringing to the small screen in 2011.  According to TV Guide, all three seem to be interested, but are working out final details.  In Hollywood speak, that means they want more money.  The new series will pick-up from where the old series left off in 1991 and the two reunion movies that followed in ’96 and ’98.  J.R.’s now grown son, John Ross, and his cousin, Christopher (Bobby’s son), will be the main focus of the new cast helping to tie the two series together.

This news did not necessarily blow me away upon reading it, but I’ll probably end-up checking  out because the original series was kind of a staple of our television viewing habits back in the ’80’s around my house.  In fact, instead of wondering about who shot J.R., I was more preoccupied with who shot creativity?  What the hell happened to having an original idea?  This is probably going to end up being a long, boring rant about the state of Hollywood today, but this has to be said.

Although, I find myself occasionally falling victim to the nostalgia bug (G.I. Joe and Knight Rider), I can not stand the blatant pandering by Hollywood to Gen X/Y’ers.  Sure, I have a fondness in my hearts for things I loved as a child, but I have a greater fondness for originality.  And most of the time these remakes are just bastardized versions that make me wish a remake had never been attempted in the first place (see The Dukes of Hazzard movie).  I did a little background work for this blog post (see there is a first time for everything), and what I found even astonished me.  I’ll break the lack of creativity into smaller sub-sections so it’s a little easier to read.

A Right Nice Piece of Banditry

Hollywood has always borrowed liberally from our neighbors across the pond as far back as shows like All In The Family and Sanford and Son, which were both taken from British comedies, but lately our writer’s larceny knows no bounds.  Perrinial top 10 shows like The Office, American Idol, and Dancing With The Stars all were copied after BBC series, as well as  Hell’s Kitchen, Undercover Boss, and Kitchen Nightmares.

Check The Vault

This is the category the new Dallas remake falls into.  The producers, tired of getting no new ideas from the writers, run to their vaults and see what series they hold the rights to and play Dr. Frankenstein with those show.  The networks have pretty much all had their hands in the cookie jar with this one.  In the past couple of years, NBC tried to revive Knight Rider, American Gladiators, and the Bionic Woman. CBS gave us the new Hawaii Five-0 this season.  ABC tried the V series last season, and CW got in the act with Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place re-creations.  The road doesn’t look promising for CBS try, as all the rest have now failed.  MTV is even rumored to be getting into the act with a TV version of the ’80’s cult classic, Teen Wolf. Which is a nice segue into the next category of blatant theft…

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

If you read my blog post a couple months ago, you know all about the vampire craze that has been brought upon us by the Twilight series of books.  I has caused a plethora of similar novels to be published in the young adult section, and television is not immune to the effects of the madness, either.  Series like True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, and the now defunct, Moonlight all have jumped on the vampire bandwagon.

The Faux Spinoff

The spin off has been a television staple for a long time.  The lineage reads like passages from the bible.  All In The Family begot Maude and The Jeffersons,  Maude begot Good Times. Or there is the probably more famous line of Love, American Style, which begot Barefoot In The Park, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, and Happy Days.  Happy Days begat Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joanie Loves Chachi. Usually in these versions, one auxillary character would leave the first show, be placed in new circumstances,  and the story lines were derived from there.  But, in this new hybrid version, the producers don’t even take the time to change anything about the new show.  They just create the show and put new actors in almost identical roles as the first show.  Hell the don’t even take the time to think up a new original name.  You might have figured out by by now that the culprit on this one is CBS or Viacom.  Across their networks, Viacom has three CSI‘s, two NCIS‘s, and four Law & Order‘s.  The show’s story lines are barely discernible from each other in the respective group.  So, when you feel a sense of deja vu when watching the brand-new episode of CSI: Miami, chances are you have seen it before, but it was just set in New York or Las Vegas.

The Big Screen

Of course, TV writers and producers are not the only ones who have simply given up on creativity.  The theaters hand out retreads like ugly was handed out to Snooki…limitlessly.  Over the past year or so, we’ve had The Karate Kid, Predator, Nightmare on Elm Street, Start Trek, Wall Street, G.I. Joe, and The A-Team just to name a very few.  And with real winners like Tron: Legacy, Yogi Bear, Little Fockers, True Grit, The Smurfs, Ghostbusters, and 21 Jump Street on the way, there appears to be no end in sight.  Why can’t someone find where the creative spirit of Hollywood went and bring that back?  I wonder who has the rights to that?


About Richard Howk

Fiction author with my first novel, Pariah, available December 2nd.
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