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Higher Culture: Hollywood Redux

Kevork Djansezian
Higher Culture

I can almost hear it now.

“Geez, really, Becca? Another article about how disappointing and worthless the ‘product’ Hollywood churns out is?”

Just what America needs, I know.

But this year, because of the Chinese plague pandemic,  the normal, film nerd extravaganza of “critically-acclaimed movies no one admits to watching” getting released between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day in order to qualify for Awards Season was pretty much canceled.

Instead, I’d like to catch you up on what our progressive pals on the Left Coast have been planning to shove down our throats in the new year. Ready?

Now, the usual definition of the word “redux” is the more positive one, something like “revive.” But according to Merriam-Webster.com, the origin of the word, which is Latin,

….redux (from the verb reducere, meaning “to lead back”) can mean “brought back” or “bringing back.” The Romans used redux as an epithet for the Goddess Fortuna with its “bringing back” meaning; Fortuna Redux was “one who brings another safely home.”

In simpler words, we’re talking reboots, prequels, rehashes of storylines and characters you (or your parents) have loved in the past. Whether you like it or not, it’s happening, people — all over again.

I mean, c’mon, there’s no purpose to Peacock, NBC’s streamer, cobbling together a reboot of “Saved By The Bell,” is there?

Many of you likely have seen the new, first look at “Coming 2 America’ (ugh, yeah, they’re going with that), the sequel to Eddie Murphy’s iconic, ’80s fish-out-of-water comedy, “Coming to America.”

And as excited as many of us GenXers might be over the prospect of a new tale on the big screen about Prince Akeem of Zamunda and his loyal (if somewhat high on his horse) servant Semmi (played again by Arsenio Hall), the other Stephen Miller asks an important question here — one which producers expecting to make a quality movie would or should have asked in advance:

As Miller added in a comment, he “really really [doesn’t] want this to suck but alas.”

One of the more explosive (and unsurprising) celebrity stories this week was about megastar Tom Cruise going berserk in front of crew members of Mission Impossible:7 (see Mike Miller’s “Tom Cruise Goes Full-Metal KAREN in Profanity-Filled COVID Rant on Set of ‘Mission Impossible’: ‘If I See You Do It Again You’re F**king Gone!’,” if you missed it.)

Let’s stop right there. Do we need another M:I movie? And of course, Cruise is responsible for the exhumation of “Top Gun,” with more unnecessary, daredevil stunts and witty bromance banter, which absolutely no one asked for.

But perhaps the announcement of this upcoming, redo project disturbs me the most, the reboot of “Night Court,” which Yahoo!’s entertainment news platform shared exclusively this week.

Yahoo! News:

Night Court is back in session. NBC is developing a follow-up to the classic legal comedy series, with co-star John Larroquette set to reprise his Emmy-winning role and produce. The Big Bang Theory alumna Melissa Rauch executive produces the reboot for Warner Bros TV.

Written/executive produced by Dan Rubin (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) based on the original series created by Reinhold Weege, the multi-camera Night Court centers on the unapologetic optimist judge Abby Stone, daughter of the late Harry Stone, who follows in her father’s footsteps as she presides over the night shift of a Manhattan arraignment court and tries to bring order to its crew of oddballs and cynics, most notably former night court prosecutor Dan Fielding (Larroquette).

Here’s the problem, as anyone who’s a fan of the original show knows already: (emphasis added)

The original Night Court, which aired on NBC for nine seasons from 1984-92 and earned three Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy nominations, followed the proceedings during the night shift of a Manhattan municipal court, led by a young, unorthodox judge, Harold “Harry” T. Stone. He was played by Harry Anderson, who died in 2018 at age 65. Abby is a newly created character who was not part of the original show.

Okay, no, thanks. Why in the world would you do this? Can’t these creative people create something new? Apparently, they can’t. And, unless we make a concerted effort to support independent writers and directors, people like Nick Searcy, Dean Cain, and others, we’re going to keep getting the same stuff.

Another thing that seems likely to change because of nearly nine months of COVID shutdowns and restrictions, both in California and across the country, is that movie theaters as we know them will probably never return. Sure, you’ll be able to plunk down $15 at your local, dine-in AMC theater, or continue to see indie films in two-theater art houses in a few of the bigger cities. But multiplexes as we’ve known them for decades probably can’t survive these times. Right now, it’s not clear if that’s a good or a bad thing. But it will reduce the choices we have, and the ticket price is sure to go up.

To soothe us a little, here’s something a friend suggested when I told them I was writing on Hollywood’s failures to entertain. One of the unheralded, ’80s TV show themes, from a show they should have let rest in peace: