The concept of a reboot has a Catch-22 built right into it, and no, I'm not talking about the Catch-22 reboot that I'm sure is coming at some point. Reboots only happen because of the name recognition of the original, and the original typically has name recognition because it's above average. Therefore, every time a reboot is only average, it's seen as a failure.
But what about the reboots that outshine the original? Well, at that point, everyone just forgets that it's a reboot. I don't think the average millennial today would know that 2001's Ocean's Eleven was a reboot of a 1960 version, and they definitely wouldn't care.
If you want a critically successful reboot, the obvious choice is to pick a film or TV show that had a seed of a great idea in it, but was executed terribly. In the alternate universe where blockbuster producers put critical success above the financial kind, I'd have a suggestion: The Assassination Bureau.
The original book is a thriller-satire that Jack London started but couldn't figure out an ending for. (Robert L. Fish finished and published it 50-odd years later). The plot centers on a guy who runs an assassination business that only kills people it deems unethical. A reporter finds out about it, and manages to convince the guy that his entire business model is unethical, leading the guy to do the only ethical thing: He calls out a hit on himself. Then the rest of the book is a globe-trotting adventure as the guy battles to the death with his own employees.
Granted, the ethics get a little muddled, given that it all comes down to whoever can kill the best, but it's a fun romp based around a great premise. It was turned into a 1969 film that's goofy yet forgettable and ignores a lot of the demented ethics discussions that make the book fun -- the second half ditches the main premise entirely for a big finish that includes an attempted bombing of a castle from a Zeppelin. 60s adventure films were always bombing things from Zeppelins. The film does turn the reporter character into a woman and gets Dianna Rigg to play her, so it has its merits. A terribly cropped version of the whole film is currently on YouTube, if you want to check it out -- I'd recommend just the first two minutes, so you can enjoy the jaunty series of deaths in the opening credits.
Assassination Bureau is the perfect film for a remake: It's an amazing premise in need of a better film around it. Get on it, Hollywood. Nicolas Cage would definitely accept a cameo as one of the assassins.
Five Short-Lived Series That Deserve The Reboot Treatment
Tricia Ennis, SyFy Wire
The series, which saw failed med student turned morgue assistant Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku) discovering she has a superpower in which the dead ask her for help and then send her back 24 hours in time to stop their murders, was actually a decent idea born maybe a little too much of the early '00s emo-punk period. It didn't help that the series was on FOX, which became notorious around the same time for canceling pretty much everything.
Oh, and hi to all my new subscribers who only joined because my art blog's Twitter feed was suspended. To everyone else: My Twitter feed was suspended. I created a new feed, just to direct my Twitter fans to, but if I don't get reinstated, 70s Sci-Fi Art's Twitter presence appears to be over.
At first I thought Twitter suspended the account due to copyright claims -- Twitter didn't explain anything, just got back to my appeal with a short form letter that said I violated the rules and that they wouldn't listen to any further appeals. But looking at another recent suspension that was reversed this weekend, it might have just been caught in a sweep for "abusive API keys," which is a pretty damn annoying way to have 115K followers wiped out. If anyone has a connection at Twitter internally, PLEASE get in touch with me. I might be making some noise about it on my personal Twitter later today, so maybe give me a retweet.
Working on a few new projects, so hopefully I'll have some better news for you all next week!
In other news, I've been getting into the new show Evil recently... it's sort of an off-beat X-Files that replaces aliens with Catholicism. It uses self-contained episodes that hint at a larger plotline, a format I love yet is very rare in modern TV, which tends to prefer one endless ongoing story.
CBS’s Evil is one of TV’s wildest shows, disguised as a network procedural
Emily VandDerWerff, Vox
[A]ny given episode of Evil feels about five minutes away from collapsing under its own hubris and ambition. The TV scholar Jason Mittell has dubbed the chief storytelling mechanic of 2010s drama to be “batshit TV,” a category that contains everything from American Horror Story to The Leftovers to Legion — all shows where big, wild things happen and small, wild things happen, and the goal of the storytelling is to keep you off-kilter. Evil is perhaps the most successful series yet to filter the “batshit” sensibility for broadcast TV, and it’s airing on CBS, traditionally the most staid and artistically conservative network of them all.
Relatedly, I also watched an episode of Kolchak the Night Stalker, another X-Files tangental show (It's free on NBC's website if you can handle ads!). It's funnier than I thought it would be. I think the time is right for a reboot, probably starring noted Scully fan Kate McKinnon.
Good article on the history of moon landings and sci-fi:
Andrew Liptak, Clarkesworld
Early astronomers proposed numerous theories to comprehend the nature of the Moon. The Greeks thought it could be covered with a giant ocean, which would account for its reflective nature, while others thought it could be a mirrored surface, reflecting an image of the Earth back on itself, and still other philosophers disagreed. In his book The Moon: A History for the Future, Oliver Morton observes that the idea of the Moon as a mirror still holds true for many people—not necessarily literally. “But what people see when they look at the Moon is indeed, for the most part, a reflection of themselves—of their preoccupations and theories, their dreams and fears . . . The history of the Moon is a history of ideas about the Moon; and it is from those ideas that its future will grow.”
Here's a detailed summary of what you could expect to find in early 50s horror comics. Some stomach-churning stuff.
A History Of EC Comics In 7 Tales Of Murder & Horror
Daniel Kraus, Crime Reads
Though accurately branded as horror, the three comics weren’t all slobbering were-pire hybrids and man-eating blobs of goo. More traumatizing and exciting were the wildly over-the-top murders played out across the pulpy pages. Here are just a few of my favorites.
Today in "tumblr tags no one cares about as much as me," we have a collection of examples of plagerism in retro horror movie poster art. A few 70 sci-fi names pop up, both as victims and as perpetrators. This stuff was pretty easy to get away with before the internet!
Thing I'm listening to: JAMi2 - Bomba
Horror movies I've seen so far this month: Drag Me to Hell, Jennifer's Body, Candyman
Next Time on Maddd Science: The Book Business
Header image: “The Tree of Dreams,” by Daniel Williams. Yeah, I don't know what's going on with this one either, but I like it.
Like this issue? Maybe forward it to someone you think would like it, too. My marketing budget just covers that and my twitter account. And if someone forwarded this to you, you can subscribe here!