The ‘reimagined’ Battlestar Galactica, a dark jazz riff on the 1970’s space opera for children, is nearing the end of its final run. By popular acclaim, and by most any other measure too, it ranks amongst the best television of this decade. But whilst the new Battlestar Galactica has been a revelation, it also carries a heavy responsibility. In the wake of its success, the idea of revamping old television shows has taken on a life of its own. The straightforward trick of taking a kitschy show and amping up the grit, grime, adult content and seriousness levels is a perfect reflection of the obsessions of our age, and a pretty good idea if you want an immediate boost to the ratings of a new show. Since Battlestar, we have seen Bionic Woman get the full makeover, and Ian McKellan is lined up tp be in the cast of the new version of The Prisoner. Like rap music – which so often samples classic tunes of the past and builds a song around them – taking themes from old TV and splicing them into a new product introduces the risk of creating ugly frankenstein works that tarnish what was good about past creations, and overlay little that is new or of value. They introduce some danger: the danger of spoiling our memories of what was once great. Nevertheless, the temptation is bound to be too great, and the fashion for reimagining will probably stay with us for at least another decade before the world of creative media goes back to coming up with good original ideas. In the interim, expect a lot of weird reinventing of the television wheel. Here are a few of my own speculations of shows that could soon get the reimagination treatment.
Scooby Doo, bitter about the endless stream of caretakers with their absurd monster-oriented plots, and tired of a life of endless and aimless wandering, splits from the rest of the Mystery Machine team. He travels to Alaska in a quest for peace and quiet, and to find himself. He settles amongst great unspoiled natural beauty in a tiny community. It appears Scooby may have finally found happiness and true love with Lady Lightning, the leader of a huskie pack. Cue many shots of magnificent snow-covered landscape, with Lady Lightning frolicking with Scooby, who has taken to riding a ski-doo. Scooby’s happy days are short-lived, however. As the winter draws in, and the days grow short, Scooby finds himself assailed by terrible foreboding nightmares. In an ironic twist, after spending his life fighting fake monsters, Scooby’s sleeptime visitations are a terrifying premonition of an attack by real vampires and werewolves on the town. Scooby and Lady Lightning fight fiercely to protect the towndwellers, but Scooby is ill-prepared to find that the leader of one of the warring monster factions is a zombie Scrappy-Doo.
El Dorado: Return to the New World
A British ex-pat community goes about their ordinary lives in a pleasant, if bland, tourist trap on the coast of Spain. Their lives rotate around tales of love and heartbreak, petty crime, and family intrigues. Bunny, at last happily settled with her fifth husband, has opened a scuba-diving training school. One afternoon, on a regular dive with her pupils, they discover a sunken Spanish galleon. Exploring the ship, they find a tremendous treasure trove, and carry some of the precious artefacts back to the town. Deciphering the ornate script on their find, they realize it had been looted by Spanish adventurers from Montezuma, and it carries an ancient Mayan curse (according to Wikipedia). The ex-pats party all night, revelling in what they suppose will be their untold wealth, but they awake the next morning to much worse than a hangover. The curse has transported their entire community back to the Mexican Yucatan Penninsula of the 16th Century. Assailed by Mayan warriors, they have to learn to fight and defend themselves, whilst desperately searching for a medicine man who can undo the curse and help them return to their own time.
The Slayer’s Daughter
Christina, raised in a strict evangelical family on a remote farm in Colorado, struggles to come to terms with the revelation that her beloved mother and father are not her biological parents. She was adopted at an early age, and has no memory of her real mother and father. A mysterious Englishman calls at her house one day, offering to tell Christina about her roots. Christina was in fact the lovechild of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Though they loved their daughter, Buffy and Angel realized that their beloved daughter would always be in danger if her identity were known to the demons they constantly fight. They decide to place her for adoption in order to protect her. Christina, shocked by this story, which she considers to be pagan and tantamount to devil-worship, rejects it, throws the still unnamed Englishman out of her house and continues to adhere to the strict fundamentalist Christian principles she was schooled in. The plot develops with the ongoing story of Christina’s devout religious practices, her finding work as a shop assistant at the local drug store, her abstinence from sex before marriage despite the advances of willing suitors, and the day-to-day trivialities of a miserable, joyless life of hating gay people and regularly masturbating with a giant plastic cucumber interspersed with intense bouts of shame and remorse. In a twist, we discover the demons do locate Christina and plan to kill her, but seeing what a truly unpleasant and despondent person she is, they change their minds and decide to just let her be.
Quantum Leap of Solace
Scott Bakula reprises his role as time-travelling scientist Sam Beckett, with Dean Stockwell playing the holographic assistant Al, a character that only Sam can see. Still trapped in the temporal rift caused by his ill-conceived experiment, Sam has by now helped literally thousands of people to right a string of wrongs and get their lives back on track, including reversing a mistaken vasectomy and successfully saving an anoerexic by getting her hooked on greasy bacon butties. Even so, Sam seems no closer to his own escape and redemption, and starts to lose faith that he will ever return to his own life and time. Worse still, being caught in the rift means that Sam never ages, and he faces the terrifying prospect of spending eternity jumping from one corny period drama to another. Meanwhile, the elderly Al now uses a wheelchair, and faces the delicate challenge of grooming Todd, his grandson and an assistant at the military laboratory, to take on his mantle of Beckett’s only link to his original life.
Leaping into the body of J.F. Kennedy shortly before his assassination in Dallas, Sam initially decides to crouch down and cower in the back seat of the convertible limo. This elicits boos from the thronged spectators, so instead Sam leaps from the vehicle, rushing his would-be murderer on the grassy knoll and punching him out with a solid right upper cut. At the subsequent trial, Sam speaks up for the patsy, Lee Harvey Oswald, and secures his release from prison. According to calculations, this should prompt Sam to leap, but nothing happens. Further reflection shows that the person Sam was sent to help was not Oswald, but Jackie Kennedy, who has been driven to deep depression by her husband’s philandering. Confronted with the opportunity to shag Marilyn Monroe, Sam does what any man would, and merrily humps away without a second thought for poor Jackie. Opening his eyes to the opportunity to live a life of gratutitous sexual excess, Sam decides not to do the right thing and instead exploits his power, popularity and position to the maximum, not only continuing his affair with Monroe, but instigating additional affairs with many other leading Hollywood starlets of the era, including Janet Leigh and Audrey Hepburn. Meanwhile, his Presidency grows in popularity, with Sam not only winning a second term in office in the guise of JFK, but leaving office with a record popularity rating after the use of biological weapons secures victory over the Vietcong in the summer of 1968.
Moving into the early 70’s, Sam-Kennedy’s lasciviousness shows no signs of abating. To further his opportunities to meet glamourous women, loyal nationalist Sam sets up a charitable foundation which acts as a front for Sam-JFK to perform key diplomatic and mediatory roles in conflicts worldwide. This frequently intertwines with espionage intrigue and he meets and beds a string of gorgeous women of all races. Spending an increasing time apart from her husband, and distraught at his continuing infidelities, Jackie commits suicide. Sam rationalizes that after Jackie’s death leaping will be impossible, and he consoles himself by spending the rest of Kennedy’s natural life enjoying endless sport sex with many willing women of all walks of life, which is graphically portrayed at least twice per episode. Despite the extreme physical stress, Kennedy’s body lives to the age of 97, dying of a mid-coitus heart-attack whilst enjoying a three-in-a-bed session with Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. Sam then gets the opportunity to make amends, by leaping into the bodies of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears in turn. He helps them both by turning them into well-adjusted people, both of whom turn their backs on fame to settle down into happy lifelong marriages.
This one-off special begins with Russian premier Vladimir Putin ordering a nuclear submarine on a special mercy mission to find the island in Lost. Through montage sequences and flashbacks, we see the lives of the crack crew of submariners aboard the submarine, and their former lives at home with their families. Their relentless search for the island lasts a supposed three years. They find it, causing jubilation as the crew realizes their mission is near its end and they will soon return to their homes and families. Ten seconds later, they nuke the island, obliterating it from the face of the planet and leaving no evidence that it ever existed. The show concludes with Putin, still sweating after an intense judo work out with an FSB colleague, explaining how sorry he felt for all the island’s inhabitants, and for any viewers that have wasted their time watching their absurd adventures. He hence felt compelled to put them all out of their collective misery with this giant act of kindness.