Tales from my catch-up reading part deux: a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly [which, indeed, comes weekly, and thus creates quite a pile up if you don’t stay on them] describes a number of film franchises slated to come back from the dead. While the public at large might describe some of these as exhausted or played out, Hollywood execs are willing to greenlight them, and are calling them a “reboot” of the series.
Reboot? Seriously?! A computer expert I’m not, but is this a term still in the common parlance? It reminds me nothing so much as eighth-grade computer class, where our terminals would freeze half-way through and we’d be told to reboot the balky machine, which now seems primitive in comparison to the kinds of computers we work with every day.
Perhaps therein lies the power of this particular term in Hollywood vernacular. If you scan the series that are slated for production in this category, you see titles like Terminator, The Hulk, The Bionic Woman. Far off in the distance is the spectre of Star Trek. [The latter sends chills down my spine, and not in a good way. I don’t care if J.J. Abrams is at the helm. I don’t care if David Foster Wallace writes the script. Let the series live on solely in syndication perpetuity.] Even with the potential camp value that most of these embody, they seem like the equivalent of our 1985 Texas Instruments motherboards all gussied up in a bright shiny Apple housing. Pretty, but not particularly effective.
Despite this rather disappointing news, EW does suggest a reboot game that I’ve been playing all week. It offers a number of series that are deserving of said reboot, and attempts to cast them. Fun for the whole family! One of their suggestions is the transcendent Thin Man series, with Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles—detectives and heavy drinkers. Now THIS is a reboot candidate! Still crackling, and old enough that at least two generations will be ignorant of its existence. If you haven’t seen them, and particularly the first one, run, don’t walk. It’s difficult to articulate their heady mix of banter, slapstick, and cool, but all of the elements are there. They’re some of the few films from the 30’s that don’t raise my feminist hackles (although once the Charles’s have a child, it’s less fun). But Nora is a quite a dame—a Rosalind Russell sort, but with a sweet edge, while Nick’s suave, debonair wit is second only to Cary Grant. EW proposes that a Thin Man reboot could feature Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal, but I don’t feature it. Witherspoon maybe, but not Gyllenhaal. Both seem a bit too young and unselfconscious. My vote for Nick would be Joseph Fiennes, he of Shakespeare in Love fame. Whatever happened to that guy, anyway? Casting Nora is a bit of a sticky wicket–she’s a particular stripe of innocent and knowing, and she’s got to wrap her mouth around some significant dialogue. And there we have it: Lauren Graham. Hell, Gilmore Girls is over; this might just be her ticket.
More nominees for reboot status? And any entries into the casting game? Polls are now open!