Q:if you could have the IP of one TV show (or TV that hit the movies) what would you pick and what would you do with it?
A tricky one, this. I’m trained as a writer to locate and deploy my own ideas rather than spend time pining away on IPs I am unlikely to ever get to take charge of myself. Thus, rather than work toward the renovation of a classic TV show, I aim to create new spec features and script pilots for original series in the hopes that they (a) get made themselves or (b) land me a writing gig on a quality series somewhere. Once that’s done, it seems, I can pursue gigs that’ll give me influence on beloved franchises like Star Trek or Mission: Impossible.
That’s a long and difficult process, though, so instead let me say that I’d like to return Mission: Impossible to the air (perhaps alongside the continuing feature films) as a weekly action-drama series with serious peril and a bit of its original premise as an antho series with a rotating cast. Put it on FX, maybe. I wouldn’t make it any soapier, exactly, but I’d put more emphasis on the unusual sorts of people drawn to the IMF’s original methodology of non-official-cover agents, have agents get disavowed a little more often, and maybe do one 2-3 ep arc per season that sees multiple impossible missions undertaken in series (or in tandem!) to bring down a big villain.
That said, I’d happily bring the new Star Trek universe back to television, too, since you’re offering.
Edit: Another reason to put Mission: Impossible back on television? The music of the theme and “The Plot” recorded for every episode in some new way.
1. Space: Above and Beyond (1995-1996)
Why it’s unsung: Like many of the shows on this list, it only ran for one season, on Fox. And like the other shows on this list, it often gets ignored when people are talking about the enduring classics of the genre.
Why it rules: As veteran TV writer Jesse Alexander wrote for us a while back, this show blazed new trails and helped prepare the way for other gritty shows about space combat. The show featured “relatable, almost ordinary characters overcoming extraordinary challenges through teamwork and sacrifice.” And it dealt with tough issues like the rights of genetically engineered people, artificial intelligence, and war against an alien species.
Srsly, Space: Above and Beyond was AWESOME. I’ve got the DVDs if anybody wants to do a rewatch with me.
Not only do I still hold this show dear, but I gave it as a Christmas gift as recently as yesterday. A bunch of what I learned about how to write and tell stories came from this era of television, frankly, for better or worse.
Aaron Sorkin and Liz Lemon meet at last on 30 Rock.
I’ve been browsing Outpost Gallifrey to read how crap I am. I’ve been watching some of Series Three—not for work, but with a state of mind that says, deliberately, this isn’t as good as I thought it was. In fact, it’s crap. I’ve failed. I’m rubbish. I’m lucky. I’m a fraud. I’ve lost it, and this next script is the script that will expose that.
My friend Keith Uhlich, a Time Out New York film critic and a devotee of series TV, has a theory that broadcast network shows provide viewers with two sources of drama. One is the conflict between characters. The other is the conflict between the series and the system that produces it. […] Every time you watched [The X-Files] — or “NYPD Blue,” or “Lost,” or “24” or “ER” any other U.S. network program of note — there was an extra-dramatic sense of anticipation. You wanted to see if the writers would manage to transcend network content restrictions, format limitations, behind-the-scenes meddling by executives and sponsors — not to mention the pitiless pressure of having to churn out 22 episodes a year even if they didn’t have enough stories to justify it — and produce great TV.
—Matt Zoller Seitz, “The Problem with American Remakes of British Shows”
(We’ve talked before, I think, about this conflict between the art and the venue, between the show and the system, as a form of meta-suspense for the audience: How long can a good show maintain its high-wire act? What trapeze stunts can a series perform before it falls to the net below?)
Not only is the quality of the output high, but so is the diversity of style and genre. This has to be connected to the break-up of the old US network cartel. In the last decade the four major US broadcasters have had stiff competition from free and pay-per-view cable channels, turning US television into a seller’s rather than a buyer’s market. The creative people have more control and the commissioning process is more open.
“Why Britain Can’t Do The Wire” at Prospectmagazine.co.uk