Friday, 30 January 2009

Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies cancelled - criminal

It's been a while since the news came that both Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies, two of the most excitingly original genre shows for some time, have been cancelled in the US (and, since that's where they're made, all over the world) in an act that ought to be prosecuted under crimes against humanity.
It is perhaps ironic that humanity is what is at the heart of both of these shows. Despite Eli Stone being about lawyers and Pushing Daisies being about death both these shows are relentlessly optimistic.
And that's what probably killed them.
With Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and global financial meltdown and poverty and everything crashing down around our ears perhaps it isn't the time for a message of goodness and kindness and positivity to be heard and yet this is the message for our times. Surely there can't be a better time for people to be getting the message that we ought to be nice to each other, that tolerance and goodness and just plain being nice are good things.
Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies occasionally tipped into sentimentality and sludge, but they were sweet and lovely and the world is a poorer place without them.

Where are all the new ideas?

There hasn't been a better time to be a genre viewer in the UK. In the first month of 2009 we see the return of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Battlestar Galactica, Pushing Daisies, Supernatural and Lost. Great stuff all of them.
In the same month we will see one new show hit the screen - Being Human.
Whilst the sheer output of genre television at the moment and in the near future is astonishing there is depressingly little among it to shout out "That's New!" about. In the list above only two were new ideas when they first arrived (Lost and Pushing Daisies). You can say that Supernatural is new, but considering that almost each episode is a rerun of a popular horror or sci fi outing that isn't true at all.
The rule is that the franchise is king and if it doesn't have a built in recognition factor then it doesn't get made. Last year we saw Survivors based on an old BBC show and in the near future we will see The Prisoner based on an old ITV show. The big TV show of the moment Dr Who is older than I am (just) and has spawned two spin offs whilst the Beeb hasn't come up with one original genre show. Jekyll was a story that has been told time enough and again whilst Merlin is just a spin on the Once and Future King idea.
Having the brand recognition isn't necessarily enough either. Bionic Woman didn't run and Blade was a one season wonder (as in 'I wonder how they cocked it up so badly'). Flash Gordon failed to ignite any excitement despite being one of the biggest names in the Sci Fi universe.
It's the same in the cinema as well. Whilst you have to expect the big novel adaptations (Twilight) you shouldn't have to expect that every genre film is a remake (The Day the Earth Stood Still), clone (DOOMSDAY/MAD MAX 2) or yet another comic book (The Spirit, Watchmen, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Hellboy 2 even Wanted).
Surely somebody somewhere has something new to say. Surely in this world of jaded entertainment reruns there is an idea that will catch on and fire itself up to the world-spanning phenomenon levels of Lost.
If there is, we haven't seen or heard tell of it yet.