Remake Mania: My Opinion on the Devolution of Television
'There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.'
-A Study in Scarlet
In light of television’s sudden need to ramp up remaking shows, I felt it necessary to weigh in. With the Sherlock Holmes quote above, I wanted to establish my base line.
While it is true that stories are recycled enormously over time, there is always a new angle to be found, new intuition to be explored. The need to constantly remake the same stories, especially from successful shows from recent times just seems to lack motivation to come up with new creative ideas. I can understand capitalizing on an already existent fan base, but usually being part of that fan base means devout loyalty to the original unless you can convince them to even think of investing in the new version.
Some of the more successful revamps are the new “Star Trek” movies, BBC’s “Sherlock”, and the “Doctor Who” reboot. Others, such as the “Buffy” and “Wonder Woman” remakes faltered before they even really got started. Television has seen moderate success with adapting book series into serial dramas, as long as they can acknowledge that they more than likely won’t adhere to the complete plotlines within the series.
How is that we keep coming back to the old stuff? I know there is comfort in the familiar, but there is also the need to let go and explore new avenues. The writers for these stories are out there, maybe not in the form you expect, but you need to look for them.
As it is, there has already been in decline in the quality in television, with reality shows bursting at the seams, and the insipid glorification of stupidity and false conflict to generate ratings. We come to wonder why forward progress is so stilted, and yet cannot dream of raising the standard and pushing the limits of storytelling. We watch the decline of today’s youth in education standards and workforce ingenuity, and can’t connect it into programs that exploit youth and compel teen girls that all their problems get solved if they get pregnant and get a show.
This country is the “great melting pot,” with so many facets of culture from around the world, and we can’t find these stories to tell. How can we look at ourselves in the mirror if we can’t look at our neighbors with open eyes? We have turned blind eyes to the different people that make up the citizenry of America. We have narrowed our minds and blunted our focus so that we don’t even see the wealth of information that can be learned from one another.
It all comes back to the story. Instead of the dilettante, we spotlight the underdog. We explore the heroes and villains, and not bask in idiocy and inanity. Comic books are a great avenue to explore, and there are so many to choose from, and that’s just another source. Let’s bring to life the wordsmiths of old, the ones who haven’t been given a real chance. Let’s look outside our own purview and explore how others see us. Let’s find the stories of change, the small victories or great ones.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
One of the problems with the lack of ingenuity is the stifling of imagination of youth as they grow. While it may be necessary to learn facts, history, math, proper sentence structure, imagination should be a part of the building the foundation for better students. How many things that started off as fiction have become realities? More than I know, but I do know someone had to dream these inventions, and someone else had to dream of making those dreams real.
We learn so early not to question, to do as we are told, that what we do has to be done a certain way, and yet as we grow up, we learn that so many things we were told aren’t real or aren’t the only way for things to be done. “What if” should become the daily question in our lives, rather than “No” being the daily answer. We must relearn to dream, to think outside the box, outside the established way of doing things and come to realize that they we may not always find the same way, but we do find our own way.
Good television makes us think. Great television makes us rethink everything we know. No one person owns the path that everyone must take and no one group should say that all other ways are wrong. There is always a new story, a new journey, a new world to explore, if only you are willing to take that first step.
At the end of the day, all these remakes show a lack of daring by writers and networks alike. Only when something is a success will they stand behind it, but someone must dare to put it there in the first place. Television is a reflection of us, and how much we are really willing to confront the truth of what we are, because if we face the truth, then we have to change, and change isn’t easy. We are trying to reflect on past glory, rather than attempt to try to succeed at something new. We have stopped becoming explorers and pioneers, adventurers and investigators. We dare not take that next step forward, and yet we want to see what is ahead.
It is okay to stay rooted in the past, to take note of the stories we have held onto and carry with us. However, we need to accept that we might be fumbling in the dark for the next epic tale, but they do exist, like hidden jewels, some more than other. If you want to find the best storytellers, now and in the past, look for loyalty, in literature in all its forms. Find the stories that speak to, the characters you hear in your head, the dialogue that invokes sensation in your mind and down your spine.
All of these companies flounder trying to figure out what it is that we want to see, what worlds we want to become engulfed in. Find the stories, the ones you tell everyone you know to read, tell them why, because the why is the most important. I know what stories and shows sustain me, keep afloat when I am adrift, laughing with joy and humor when I feel like drowning in despair. Tell the stories; tell the stories of the stories. Make it known what bright avenues and dark pathways you want to be guided on. If you can’t find them, make up your own, but make the story worthwhile. Make the story come alive, make it breathe, make it live.
In the end we have only ourselves to blame for the inadequate mire of drama we are drowning in, but we can change that. We chose it, we can change it. We can bring back the stories that will live on, not as lessons for abysmal failure and addled intellect, but as epic tales that we can condense and turn into stories to pass on. We can find the heroes to follow, the villains to defeat, and beasts to befriend or conquer. But these sagas can only come about if we will it.