It's bad enough that the movie studios often fall back on a prequel to wring
those precious dollars out of a film series. Out of ideas for a new story? Go
back and tell us how Person X got his start as a superhero/killer/monster. Star
getting too expensive? Recast the part with a younger, cheaper actor and set the
story back in the old days! A prequel is usually a bad idea because if the
original story needed to start any earlier than it did, it would have.
Sometimes too much background information -- as in the case of the Hannibal
Lecter movies -- can be a bad thing too. The more we learn about the doctor in a
movie like "Hannibal Rising" (which, yes, featured a younger,
cheaper actor in the role), the less menacing he becomes. Explaining something
takes away its power.
But the TV networks, following the lead of their brothers and sisters at the
film studios, are apparently ready to latch onto the prequel concept. This is
doubly disappointing because TV -- and more specifically, the cable networks --
in recent years has been the site of so much original, quality, innovative
programming (not to mention shining adaptations like "Game of
Thrones") that this new mini-trend seems like a huge step backward.
We're talking first and foremost about "Bates Motel," which is reportedly in
development at A&E. The proposed show, set in the years before the classic
Alfred Hitchcock movie "Psycho," would follow a young Norman Bates and
show how his mother and her lover warped him into a split-personality killer.
It's been suggested that the closing scene of "Psycho," in which a
psychiatrist (Simon Oakland) explains how Norman (Anthony Perkins) came to be a killer, already
provides too much exposition and explanation about the workings of Norman's
mind. Would the movie -- and Norman -- be even more effective than they are
without that scene? Whether they would be or not, do we really need an entire
series based around that concept? Exactly how long could such a show really
last? (A rather bad movie called "Psycho IV: The Beginning" also scoured this same
Which brings us to "Hannibal," a show based on the early exploits of, you
guessed it, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. NBC picked up the series, which will follow
Lecter as he goes "head to head" with FBI agent Will Graham, previously played
by William Petersen in the movie "Manhunter" and Ed Norton in its remake "Red Dragon." Apparently NBC wants some of that "Dexter"
serial killer audience so badly that, if network brass like the script, it's
willing to bypass having a pilot filmed and go straight into production.
They never learn, do they? "The Silence of the Lambs" and the 2001 movie "Hannibal"-- and to a lesser extent, "Red Dragon"
-- were hits thanks in large part to Anthony Hopkins' iconic performance as the
cannibalistic doctor. Take Hopkins out of the equation -- as done in "Hannibal Rising" -- and audiences are not
interested. The latter film (and book) also did so much to explain Lecter's
background that it truly robbed the character of much of his mystery and almost
Will Lecter play cat-and-mouse games with Graham? Or perhaps help him solve
other cases? Either way, this and "Bates Motel" sound like wholly unnecessary
ideas, while more original series, like Joe Hill's "Locke & Key," are
rejected or the adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis' innovative superhero
detective comic, "Powers," languishes in development. Come on television
networks -- you're starting to behave just like the movie studios.
Geeking Out On...J.J. Abrams Directing 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars'
J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek Into Darkness' is set to open this week, then begins the task of directing a new 'Star Wars' film for 2015. Check out this episode where Kurt argues why he's the man for the job and how it's enough already about the lens flares. Also, a few other "double dippers" in the dueling franchises as well as a few others.