I’m never happy, am I? Having complained about how difficult it is to watch genre TV shows in the UK legally, I am now concerned about the waves of announcements for genre shows that have come forth this week, mostly from the Marvel camp and at least one surprising one from a corner I didn’t expect any kind of show announcement from. Which shows am I referring to?
In camp Marvel we’ve got the deals linked with Netflix where Marvel will be showcasing four mini-series, live action, based on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. The characters will all come together in a mini-series, after starring in their own, called The Defenders. Hell’s Kitchen is being brought to the small screen and as someone who didn’t completely hate the Daredevil movie I am quite enthused with this news and hope that Netflix will bring the show to their platform outside of the US with the same punctuality afforded the likes of House of Cards.
And then this week there was some more genre TV news sprung on me – I didn’t realise that a TV series of From Dusk Till Dawn (based on the Robert Rodriguez (director), Robert Kurtzman (story), Quentin Tarantino’s (screenplay) 1996 film) was in the works. The frelling casting was announced this week and the series will be first airing on Robert Rodriguez’s infant cable network: El Rey Network. So far the story for the series is sounded like an extended version of the events of the first film.
They’re all non-22/24 episode series, but they’re all steeped in genres that are heavily in with, well, people like me. I’ve currently given-up on expecting much of this kind of telly coming out of the UK at the moment beyond Doctor Who, so it’s the US where I keep an eye for shows that I like the look of. And excluding the issue of access to the above shows being trampled over by Sky (only a risk with From Dusk Till Dawn), I can’t help wondering: how long will this last?
I just don’t get the feeling that the derision directed at geek friendly shows like these has been fully exorcised from the media production boardrooms of the world. We’ve got immense, epic comic book movies on the big screen in a way we have never had before – on a regular basis – and shows like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. burning a hole in our viewing schedules. That’s not forgetting all the supernatural shenanigans happening elsewhere with the likes of Teen Wolf, True Blood and many more along with the more SF elements represented by shows like Under the Dome. But will this last?
Thing is, currently a lot of these franchises have been built to have a real degree of mass appeal, it’s just a coincidence that they touch on or use elements of things that self-professed geeks like. But I worry that a few less million viewer figures here and a hundred million less taken in at the box office there – we could suddenly be sitting in a space where the popularised geek shows and films are no longer being made anywhere near the level they are now. If the money doesn’t flow just right once or a few times it could have a knock-on effect.
At the moment, I feel like we’re reaching capacity for the amount of traditionally geek centric genre stuff that can be made for our screens. If things plateau – fine – but when will this happen? A part of me suspects sometime over the next two years, maybe after the release of Star Wars Episode VII.
Though because there’s so much going on at the moment and because these genre films and shows are being sold for mass appeal, very few narrative risks are being taken in them – female characters, trans characters, non-whites, homosexual characters are still being overlooked in a lot of this either through having minor roles or the stakes surrounding them not being high enough and kept high for long enough to make a true dramatic impact, which is – for me – what happened with one huge part of the main plot in Thor: The Dark World.
As I mentioned in my part of Hex’s review (linked above), there was a huge opportunity to do something different and more dramatic with the main plot and how it affected Jane. It would have meant giving her equal footing with Thor, but it didn’t happen. The element just trailed off with no risk and in an extremely predictable manner, which I can tell mainstream audiences are becoming more and more attuned to – it’s not only aspiring scriptwriters these days who can see a plot point from a mile off. And I think that without taking these narrative risks that mainstream audiences will eventually tire of viewing all these genre shows/films and without their support we will see far fewer of these shows and films around in the future.