This Week In Pop Culture (8/11/17)
8/11/2017: They're Rebooting The Munsters In The Saddest Way Possible
When I was a little kid, I loved reruns of The Munsters. The Addams Family was a little too think-y and weird for a sensitive child who cried at the end of Jumanji, so the madcap antics of Herman Munster and his family of socially inept Victorian freaks was perfect. And it definitely didn't hurt that I also loved the movies that The Munsters were poking fun at, like Bride Of Frankenstein and Dracula. The Munsters was a one-two punch of joy.
They tried to reboot The Munsters a few years ago in a typically "gritty" way, with Jerry O'Connell playing Herman and Portia de Rossi playing Lily Munster. This was doomed to failure, because a serious version of The Munsters is just some monsters being monsters. It's like trying to reboot Austin Powers In Goldmember as a straightforward spy drama. It's the kind of thing you make when you're a TV executive but you're just now hearing about the concept of TV and storytelling for the first time. "They made a show about funny monsters? But wouldn't it be better if they were, and I want you sitting down for this, scaaaaary monsters?"
I defended the honor of the original Munsters series against a reboot that had no justifiable place in the entirety of the genre of fiction. And now I hear news of another Munsters reboot, and this time it would be a comedy (showing that whoever was making it had at least read the Wikipedia article for The Munsters). And then I learned that it would be about the Munsters "struggling to fit in in hipster Brooklyn." That's where I live. So after years of support, we're getting a Munsters series that makes fun of me.
First of all, while a lot of people I've talked to think it's really cool to have TV shows and movies shot in your neighborhood, let me tell you that it's not super great. The crews block the sidewalks, mess with the subway routes, and for a few days everyone who parks in the area has to move their cars to some other block. There is maybe a half of a spot left to park in all of New York City anyway, so whenever a new show begins production, I get to play another exciting round of "Hope This Apartment Complex Doesn't Catch On Fire" as I sneak my car next to a hydrant. The Munsters, a show I devoted my childhood to, is doing this to me.
Secondly, do we really need a show in which a Frankenstein makes fun of millennials for 20 minutes each week? I get that there are a lot of entertainment things that we don't need. We don't necessarily need another Fast & Furious movie, but by god, we're probably gonna get eight more of those, and I will likely enjoy every single one. But picture a Munsters show were Herman gets a man bun, Eddie gets really into East Coast hip hop (His parents are horrified by the crass lyrics, which is funny, BECAUSE THEY'RE MONSTERS. GET IT?), Grandpa is played by Larry David, Lily Munster makes jokes about yoga, and no one lives in a mansion because HAHA GENTRIFICATION MAKES IT HARD TO AFFORD A CASTLE IN BROOKLYN THESE DAYS AT LEAST IT'S NOT QUEENS AM I RIGHT YOU'RE LITERALLY MADE FROM DEAD BODY PARTS, HERMAN, BUT YOU STILL DRINK THE SOY MOCHA CHAI VEGAN NON-DAIRY ICED LATTE. NOW HERE'S THE OPENING THEME BY THE BLACK KEYS.
It's the deepest betrayal, worse than infidelity or theft or murder. It's my "Et tu, Brute?" I hate TV.
8/10/2017: Brand-New Photos From Star Wars: The Last Jedi!
By John Cheese
Today, some new pics were released from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and they are-
I'm sorry. I ... I just can't do this. I'm out. - John Cheese
8/09/2017: TV Reboots Are The Dying Gasp Of Long-Gone TV Era
By Ian Fortey
Once upon a time, there was a thing on the television (which is the box your parents use to watch news on CBS) called a rerun. A rerun was an episode of a show that you'd already seen that they just put on again, as though you hadn't already seen the damn thing. And it'd be on at the same time as the show you wanted to watch was on, only the show you wanted to watch just wasn't there. Imagine logging in to Netflix to binge The Defenders, but instead it made you watch Iron Fist again. And you had no choice in this beyond simply not watching anything. And this is how they justified it.
Now we're in 2017, original programming is as abundant as ham at a haberdashery, and you never need to rewatch anything you don't want to. But man do production companies think you want to, because we're waist-deep in the decade of the reboot. It's like a 1990s TiVo gained sentience and is now belching forth everything it thinks a modern audience wants to see -- which is, of course, everything everyone in the '90s already saw.
Here's a quick rundown of some of the reboots we've had or that are in the works over the last few years:
Will & Grace
Total Request Live
King Of The Hill
The Gong Show
Now sure, Twin Peaks seems to be doing well, The X-Files went over not too badly, and somehow Fuller House is up to Season 3 despite being a continuation of Full House, which was the television equivalent of a stranger touching your ankle from under the bathroom stall door. But did you want any of these? Was there any clamoring to have these shows resurrected? Or is it entirely possible that networks are just trying to keep people from falling asleep by giving them what they used to watch when they got home from school back in the day in a desperate bid for relevancy?
The power of nostalgia can be summed up as "Hey, I remember that thing!" and then, as the smile slowly slips from your lips, having contented yourself with the fact that your memory is still more or less functional, you stop giving a shit. Remembering a thing is not the same as liking or wanting a thing, but TV doesn't know that yet, because LALALALALALA IT CAN'T HEAR YOU! So yes, people will tune in to see The Gong Show or DuckTales because those names are familiar. Like your cat rushing to the sound of a crinkly package that might indicate food, your interest is piqued. Then when you show up and it's just some bullshit, you're going to slink away unsatisfied or just flop on the floor because whatever, you're a cat in this metaphor and your life isn't super complex.
For those not afflicted with the nostalgia bug, eh, fuck it, you never saw it the first time, so it's new to you. Like a hand-me-down sweater, don't think of it as garbage someone else didn't want and you're just in the way of the dumpster; think of it as a pre-loved gift.
Is it lazy that Hollywood wants to reboot the entire decade of the '90s, with the '80s and 2000s as garnish? People often say there are no original ideas left when they read the news about reboots, that Hollywood is bankrupt of creativity, and maybe that's it. Or maybe using the same recipe to make dinner two weeks in a row seems like a surefire way to get the same good results. If Roseanne comes back in 2017, you're getting your old favorite with a new kung fu grip and a racing stripe, so it's something you can trust, but with a little new twist to keep you interested. Or it's going to make you want to dropkick your TV right out the goddamn window like after watching that MacGyver reboot. Have you seen that thing? Good god.
There's something to be said about how hearing about a new reboot makes our eyes narrow and a seething kind of hatred bubble up in our souls (even though we don't have to watch it). I grew up in the world of networks and Must See TV, when on any given night during prime-time you had maybe three choices, and in the summer they were probably all reruns because fuck you, why are you watching TV in the summer anyway? To see the reruns resurrected like entertainment zombies, lurching across the television landscape in search of new victims, is just weird. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those who don't watch the shit they saved on DVR are doomed to have Netflix reboot it.
8/07/2017: Take The Fantastic Four Off Life Support
By Lydia Bugg
Apparently there's a dark, gritty reboot of Fantastic Four coming out called "complete and total cancellation." Marvel stopped publishing the series in 2015, and currently has no plans to continue it anytime soon. It's recently been confirmed that Marvel's loss of love for the Fantastic Four is due to CEO Ike Perlmutter's fallout with Fox Studios over the movies, the most recent of which has a 9 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It's almost as if the Fantastic Four movies are cursed. No one has ever been able to squeeze out a truly successful adaptation of what was once Marvel's most popular superhero team. Gee, could it be that the source material is bad? The best Fantastic Four movie that's been made in the last two decades is called The Incredibles. It's a campy, fun, easy-to-watch movie about a superhero family whose members actually love one another. It's everything the Fantastic Four wishes it could be, plus a fire-breathing baby.
Personally, I have a grudge against the Fantastic Four. I hate Reed Richards almost as much as Dr. Doom does. Fantastic Four was the first comic I ever read. My dad had a large backlog of 70's comics, and he decided it was time to start passing them off to me when I was in fifth grade, starting with his favorite title: Fantastic Four. Unfortunately, I hated it so much that it almost ruined comics for me forever.
For those of you who don't know, the Fantastic Four stars a stretchy asshole man, a dude who is literally fire, a sassy mountain, and a woman whose superpower is getting kidnapped. Marvel has corrected Sue Storm over the years, making her powers more ... powerful, but at the time I read the book, the one character I identified with managed to screw up the simple power of "hiding real good."
I didn't read comics for years after reading Fantastic Four. It's like the only music I had ever heard was Limp Bizkit, and then I decided all music was shit. So please excuse me if I'm on Team Perlmutter with this one. Take down all of the Fantastic Four posters at Marvel headquarters. Burn them in purifying flames. Let it die. Then maybe in 20 years the title can be brought back, except this time it stars the cast of The Incredibles, never mentions the name "Fantastic Four," and it's huge. Then Fantastic Four can become the old creepy uncle that Marvel tries to keep away from company functions.
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