A Dearth of Reboots

Every time I turn around, it seems like there’s another reboot of something.  Like MacGyver.  I remember the show when it first aired, and it was a fun action show with an unconventional hero.

The new version?  Meh.

It just isn’t the same.

Josh Whedon talks about reboot fatigue.

You bring something back, and even if it’s exactly as good as it was, the experience can’t be. You’ve already experienced it, and part of what was great was going through it for the first time.

I think there’s a lot of truth in that.  Movie, TV, and even books are affected by what’s going on in the culture and even the news.   Some of the ideas develop out of that, because that’s what the audience is wanting to see.  So a show rebooted after twenty years would be very different than the original, not to mention not having the original actors, which also influences the series.

I get why the studios are doing reboots.  They think that if the series was successful once, it will be successful a second time.  When I was Voyage to the Bottom of Sea fandom, I wanted the series to be revived because I wanted to see more stories.  That’s, in fact, why people write fan fiction stories.  But in hindsight, that show was very much a product of the 1960s, starting out with spies because James Bond was hot, and then when that died, they went to aliens and monsters.  If someone recreated it today, it would have the same name, but that’s probably all it would share.

Better still would be if they stole ideas from the past and used them, rather than reboot.  I’d be disappointed at a reboot of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  I’d watch a show that took the basic idea and went in a direction suitable for today.

Please, no more reboots.


Kirk Vs. Picard vs Janeaway

This video has celebrities identifying their favorite captains.  Despite the number of series, it was primarily between Kirk and Picard, which an occasional Janewaway.

I like both Kirk and Picard, but for different reasons.  Kirk fits the original series, and is very much of the cowboy era from when the show spawned.  Picard is more thoughtful, ore educated, and fits how the next show was.

The other captains …

Meh.  I want to like Janeaway.  She’s the first woman captain lead on Star Trek for a show that has an unfortunate track record of leaving the women in the background.  BBC’s been showing Voyager, and I’m struggling to stay involved in it.  The scripts aren’t that good.  The show might have suffered from the finding their way home premise.  But also I think the writers struggled with how to do a woman captain.  Janeaway was never consistent–she was either too hard, or too emotional.

And I get it’s tough to have a woman in command and write the character in a way that works.  So many of the traits needed to be in command don’t come off as well with a woman (which is what women CEOs struggle with).  I worked with a powerful woman, and frankly, most people did not like her and said worse behind her back.  But we all respected her and her knowledge.  And we did get occasional peaks inside the armor.

It might be that Janeaway shouldn’t have been on the screen as much and had another character–not necessarily the first officer–to balance her out.  Hmm.  This is where Star Trek’s lack of enlisted comes into play.  That would have been a perfect fit for a Chief of the Spaceship senior enlisted to bring out Janeway’s the better traits to the audience.  A senior chief could do something like this because he or she would have a lot of experience, probably as much as a Navy captain; whereas, it would be more difficult for a lower-ranking officer to do it.

When History Makes You Feel Old

I went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History today.  They had an exhibit for one of the Tucker cars, which is a car that failed due to fraud and business mismanagement.  Car is stunning though.  That is the actual color.

There was also an exhibit called American Stories.  Dorothy’s red shoes from The Wizard of Oz was in the exhibit.  They made news because the Smithsonian did a Kickstarter to raise money to restore them.  The exhibit also had Archie and Edith Bunker’s chairs and Ernie from Sesame Street.

It also had one of the first computers that came out.

I remember getting one of those.  My father was a computer engineer and he was trying to come up with fusion, so he bought a Heathkit H-89 about 1980.  In those days, you could go to the Heathkit store and buy a product like a computer or a stereo or a clock and build it yourself.

The computer was all one piece–screen, keyboard, and floppy disk drives.   It was so new at the time that he didn’t have the hard drives we’re used to now.  Instead, we booted up the computer with the floppy disk.  The ones that immediately followed it were pretty primitive by today’s standards.  I had a Commodore-64, which I used to write screenplays.  Absolutely no redundancies or error protection.  I was writing along, tried to save the file, and computer informed me there wasn’t enough room on the disk and aborted.

It’s a long way from the ones of today.

But seeing computers like what you owned in a museum … oh yeah, I feel old!

Locations Used for TV Around L.A.

One of the cool things about growing up in L.A. was that I’d see places I’d been to on a TV show.  There was an episode of Hunter that was filmed at a local Ralph’s grocery store.  Scarecrow and Mrs. King had a scene filed outside a Gemco (a department store that was turned into a Target). 

Probably one of the more famous ones is the “Batcave,” which is a small cave used in the original Batman series.  You can see the car driving through it.  But it was also used as part of Star Trek 6.  I visited L.A. then, and my father took me to the cave.  Men were out there building some kind of structure on the outside of the cave.  We went over and asked, and they told us what it was for.

Here are some locations that were used for a number of TV shows.

The End of the VCR

It’s been all over the news that the last manufacturer of the VCR is shutting the line down.  I remember when the VCR first came out.

At the time, Star Trek was running back to back with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as part of a Sci-Fi afternoon.  One day, the station pulled Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and in the fandom crowd, we found that it had pretty much disappeared.

We couldn’t rewatch favorite episodes or ones that we had never seen.  Many of us hadn’t seen the first season at all because it was in black and white, and some of the stations only showed the color three seasons.

Some of the fans were able to tape a handful of episodes, and these grainy, poor quality tapes made the rounds.  If we found a fan with another episode we didn’t have (there were 110, so lots of room for this), we were all eagerly for copies.

There were still some episodes I had never seen from the first season. 

Finally, after about 10 years, Columbia House came out with the series on video.  It was pretty expensive and subscription based, so you couldn’t buy anything to your budget.  Like grab a tape with episodes I hadn’t seen, and then pick up ones I had later, when I could afford it.

The show finally resurfaced on Sci-Fi, when it still focused on science fiction, and they showed all the episodes from the beginning to end.  And it was eventually released on DVD.

By then, I’d evolved so much as a writer that the flaws of the show really stood out.  I liked the actors, liked the special effects, but there were problems with the stories.  And the producer tended to do things because he though the audience would never notice, so I was rewinding to see if yes, the actor in the later scene had actually already been killed by a monster.

It’s still amazing though how much VCRs and the video tape changed how we watch TV and films.