Hey, you know what would make a great television series?

Do tell!  But here are the parameters:

1) It should be something in the scifi or fantasy genre.  In the case of the latter, ONLY if it is completely different from Game of Thrones (as it would invite the inevitable unflattering comparisons).

2) It must have the potential to sustain a rich storyline (oh, about five seasons worth).

3) It should be set in our contemporary world or in a very near future setting.

4) It should not be expensive to produce (ie. huge space battles, alien armies, etc.)

5) Most importantly, it should have, at its heart, some very interesting characters.

Any novels, short stories, comic books, or graphic novels immediately come to mind?

Looking forward to checking out your suggestions.

My ex used to complain I was too critical of movies.  Some of my friends complain that I am too critical of movies.  Hell, many of YOU complain I’m too critical of movies.  In my defense, I just have a problem with lazy writing.  And, clearly, I’m not the only one.  Yesterday, I received the following email from my writing partner, Paul, who had evidently just finished watching The Dark Knight Rises.  And, boy, was he pissed:

“Can you please explain Bane’s plan to me?  Anyone?  Please?  He told Bruce Wayne that he was going to make him watch Gotham burn, as a fulfillment of the weird martial arts cult that was in the first movie.  ‘Cause Gotham is a symbol of human corruption, right?  So he kidnapped a Russian scientist, the only one in the world who knew how to turn Wayne’s fusion reactor into a weapon, expressly for this purpose – ie, to blow up the city.  Okay, cool.  But then when he seized the city, and the reactor, he didn’t blow it up.  Instead, he trapped all the police underground, then opened the prisons, armed the criminals and let them take over the city as part of some kind of any-corruption campaign.  Wait…uh, what?  Was that supposed to be sarcastic?  Was he creating a utopia or bringing Gotham to it’s knees?  If the former, why did he say he was going to make Bruce watch it burn?  He should have said, I’m going to make you watch Gotham become a perfect society free of corruption and run by the people.  Although, really it wasn’t the people, but criminals he let out of jail and armed.  Um, shit, wait, it must have been sarcastic.  But then he really did want to destroy Gotham, so why not just set off the bomb?

And how come his Russian scientist, though the only person in the world smart enough to weaponize the reactor, was not smart enough to realize it was unstable and would eventually blow up on its own anyway, when the Morgan Freeman character figured it out no problem?

And what exactly did Bruce do differently when he finally was able to jump across that gap and climb out of the pit?  Jump with hope?  Jump without hope?  What the fuck was that old guy mumbling about? The mix was so bad I couldn’t understand half of what anyone said.  I suppose if I’d been watching it in a studio with Dolby 7.1 surround I wouldn’t have had any problems, but like an ignorant plebe I just watched it with the sound that comes out of my t.v.  Anyway, when he finally jumped across, he didn’t even take a running start, but somehow managed to cross a gap he couldn’t cross previously with a good full head of steam.  Why, exactly?

And lastly, am I really the only person in the world who still asks these kinds of question?.  Should I just go ahead a get that lobotomy so I can enjoy movies again? Because, I swear to god there was actually a time when I enjoyed movies.  Or did I just dream that?”

Heh.  I responded by directing him to Cookie Monster’s review, and that Honest Trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.

Then, Rob Cooper weighed in with his thoughts with this admission: ”  I stopped watching most Hollywood movies years ago.  They are empty vapid cheap noisy and stupid.   No, no one cares.” and proceeded to liken them to fast food.

Paul’s response: “Yeah, but where did it all go wrong?  Hollywood movies used to be good, didn’t they?  Even summer action blockbusters.  Nowadays people say “it’s one of those movies where you just have to turn off your brain and go along for the ride.”  But when did that start?  When did that become okay?  There’s a difference between suspension of disbelief and just accepting shit that doesn’t make sense. Are there giant plot holes in Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind that I’m not remembering?  Or Die Hard?  Or Aliens?  Star Wars (the original) was arguably a little silly and, if you believe the legends, a complete rip off of some asian movie no one’s ever heard of [The Hidden Fortress – editor], but it basically adhered to an internal logic, didn’t it?  Or was I just way more innocent back then?

What happened?  When did we start down this road?  Was it when Indiana Jones somehow miraculously survived on the outside of that Nazi submarine?  A lot of people have defended that, saying it was forgivable because it was in the over-the-top spirit of the adventure being portrayed, and maybe they’re right, but in that moment did Spielberg unwittingly plant a terrible seed?  Did a generation of film makers look at that and say “shit, that didn’t really make sense, so why should I bother?”

To which Rob replied: “I have always contended that great movies and really bad movies have been and are made by individuals with a strong singular vision able to rise above the river of shit rushing at them from studios.  And it’s usually earlier in their career when they are still listening to a few smart people around them.  You do point out some of the great films of the past but there was a whole shitload of crap made back then too.  Didn’t you scoff a little when Superman flew backwards around the Earth to turn back time and save Lois?  The problem now is that Hollywood movies are rarely made by individuals anymore or if they are, they are made by 300 pound gorillas who have reached a point of impenetrable hubris.  Corporations now produce most movies.  And they would argue that tent poles have gotten so expensive that you couldn’t possible trust 300 million dollars to one person’s opinion. Further to Hollywood’s sad demise is the failure of anything that even attempted originality this past summer.  Of course corporations would call anything without a 2 or 3 in the title original.  Pacific Rim had nothing original in it.  It was a blender mash up of previous brand name crap. I do think there is a bit of us getting older and the older you get the more things wear out.  Been there done that.  I watch my kids consume a variety of things, music, books, movies, TV,  that I see as reused garbage but they are seeing fresh and new for the first time.  I also have been going back to watch some of my favorites from the past with them only to find they are pale and lame and do not hold up at all.  They look at me like I’m crazy and I feel like my grandfather ranting about times when coffee was a nickel and they walked ten miles barefoot though the snow to school.”

Seriously.  LIfe’s too short to watch crap.

On that note, I’d like to remind everyone that our Supermovie of the Week Club reconvene next Monday with another super-themed film.  We’re going all the way back to 1978 for this gem: the epic mystical masterpiece…Dr. Strange!

1No, they sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

And, yes, he IS happy to see you.  VERY happy.

57 thoughts on “July 21, 2013: Hey, you know what would make a great television series?! And some pointed comments on the sad state of filmdom by today’s guest bloggers!

  1. Well, I think Agents of Shield is a good start in the direction of sic/fi-fantasy tv shows. I am pretty optimistic about the show, though a part of me is braced for disappointment. As far as other works, that’s a tough question. Nothing jumps to mind, especially with the budget constraints. (That knocked out the Starship Troopers and Honorverse, though the latter might be able to work around the budget). Dittoes Scalzi’s Old Men’s War, which would freak out too many mundanes with its Hulk impersonators and hyperactive hormones.
    I must admit I’d love to see Asimov’s Caves of Steel world brought to live. A mega-city, where most people have phobias about being in fresh air, android cops…handled well, I think this would provide excellent opportunities for a series.
    For fantasy I can’t pin down a single work, though Abercrombie’s works might translate well. Certainly it’s distinct enough from GoT, while enjoying the same complex character development. I would rather see an entirely new work, not adapted from other media, honestly. I know, and I want to win three mega lotteries in a row too…
    I agree with you on the stupidity in movies. I go into films with a certain amount of tolerance for nonsense, based on the genre. For instance, RED 2 was a fun, action packed movie, which I really enjoyed without bogging down too much on the plot holes. On the other hand, I expected more from Matrix, which delivered right up to the end. But I was so infuriated by the final reveal(humans as an energy source? HUH?), that I can’t bring myself to watch the other movies. And the problem is getting worse, I have noticed. The most aggravating aspect is that many movies could be salvaged by spending just a few thousand dollars more on writing, and just a bit less on special effects and big name draws. Especially with sci fi or fantasy, it doesn’t take much to offer up some techno babble or explanation as to why characters seem to have violated the physical laws of that universe. And as long as people keep paying for loud explosions and physics defying falls and escapes, I don’t see things improving. Looking forward to the Dr. Strange review. It should rate a few good laughs, at least, however unintentionally.

  2. Haha, any-corruption campaign. Hey, maybe Bane was satisfying his “what would happen if…” curiosity before he blew the city up. If you’re going to throw the microwave away anyway, tamp it full of marshmallows and forks, wire it shut, and set it to “high” like you always wanted to.

    Impenetrable hubris. Hehe.

    “Life’s too short to watch crap” is idealistic. There’s not enough not-crap to fill out my life. I’ve had to give myself over to the stupid and learn to turn my brain off. This mental discipline was easier to maintain when it was common to miss parts of movies and not have control of its playing enough to rewind. Then, if something didn’t make sense, it was easier to assume it was explained in the missed part.

  3. What Rob and Paul said.

    Seriously, as you know I think most movies (and certainly the vast majority of the ones we’ve screened) are utter dreck. I will admit that know I have a tendency to watch ANY more with the eye to picking it apart, because for the most part it’s so easy to do. There’s no question that the last Batman was a complete mess, and that the more you think about it, the more things wrong you can come up with. For the record, I think Wayne got out of the hole by NOT using the rope and therefore had to take a “leap of faith”. What that had to do with anything thematically is anyone’s guess. Sadly, most people’s response is “Who the Hell cares? Take my money!!”

    Even before I read Rob’s comments, I was thinking that one of the big problems is that there are just SO many people/interests with irons in the fire that the movie winds up having to serve so many masters that it serves none. It comes out as the hodgepodge mess that we see so often. Also, no risk taking please! Therefore, we see version XX of the same movie rather than come up with something new. I will agree that as we get older we wind up getting a little more jaded because we have, apparently, seen it all. Maybe there really ARE only x number of stories to tell?

    No ideas yet on the series, but I hear that Dark Matter is pretty good source material. 😉

  4. I kinda liked Pacific Rim. Yeah, it was an action movie and a little predictable, but I’ve watched a heck of a lot of mech and kaiju movies and anime, so I’m hard to surprise. It did have decent humor, action and an internally consistent plot. I liked the little homages to the kaiju movies of yore. But I still enjoy watching old Godzilla movies, so maybe I’m just a soft touch.

    Yes, I do think we become more jaded and demanding as we get older. We’ve seen more movies, read more books, etc. so we tend to compare all of the new things we see and read and hear with what we have already seen and are bound to find more and more similarities as time goes on. You guys are writers, so you notice it more. I sort of understand – it’s why I can’t watch doctor shows.

    Are those old, classic movies as fabulous as you remember? Maybe we should go back and watch them again to see how viewing them today compared to our memories of them. I did that recently with The Trouble with Angels – which I watched with my 19 year old daughter. We both thought it was scathingly brilliant.

  5. Good TV series? Among Others by Jo Walton. You would have to expand on the original story if it went on for a while, but I think it has a lot of potential In the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. That one would take a bit more, production-wise, but has enough material to last a while. As for sci-fi stuff – I got nothin’.

  6. “Paul’s response: “Yeah, but where did it all go wrong? Hollywood movies used to be good, didn’t they?”

    Where did it all go wrong? My opinion…The Sequel!! It was all down hill after that. The crap-fest, we-made-a-mint-on-this-one-movie-idea-let’s-do-it-again-and-again-and-again-until-the-ideas-dry-up-or-the-audience-finally-gives-up-and-quits-coming! I remember Jaws, Rocky, Indiana Jones first movie as being exciting, new, fun. Then came all the creepy sequels. Way to run this unique, well made, original idea into the ground, filmmakers. They got temporarily richer, we (the audience) got stupider.

    And another thing…when did all the actresses turn into supermodels concerned more about their bitchin’ bodies, their perfect hair, and who they were dating than the role they were playing? Start making good, original movies again with real actors and not people acting like actors.

    Also, Joe please remake the 1968 TV show The Invaders. I think you could do something with it today.

  7. Your gnocchi from the other day looks AMAZING. I want all those dishes.

    Assure Paul that many of us still ask those questions; the internet is full of fans willing to question. While I enjoyed TDKR, as I went in with little Batman canon knowledge (which I have now rectified), even I saw giant plot holes. I will say that, as for Gotham “burning” I see the criminals playing a role in that. With police gone, the criminals are free to run rampant, hurt civilians, eventually even looting and setting things on fire (mob mentality, criminals being assholes generally). It’s also fitting given the assumption of how hard Batman has worked to lock them up. It’s a metaphorical burning of what he’s done. But…I often create my own vision/reasons to fill in plot holes.lol

    As for a great TV series…well, I’m a big fan of turning The Wheel of Time into a show. However, given Game of Thrones and the immense complexity of plots and multitude of characters in TWoT, I highly doubt it will ever happen now. But, it could definitely go for 20 seasons.

    I can’t think of any others off the top of my head. But I’m all about any story as long as it has female, POC, and LGBTQ lead(s). Something similar to The Road would be cool – and cheaper than space. Just no zombies.

  8. Why your own Dark Matter would be a perfect TV show! I’d modify it a little and basically make it a new Firefly and spin it as such, they have a rabid fanbase.

    If you want fantasy use the name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss best fantasy in ages – use the legend of the seeker as a base format – focus on the time at the university as the core – you can make it feel like an more adult harry potter.

  9. Joe, what Robert Cooper said,

    “I also have been going back to watch some of my favorites from the past with them only to find they are pale and lame and do not hold up at all.”

    or what Sparrow said,

    “Are those old, classic movies as fabulous as you remember? Maybe we should go back and watch them again to see how viewing them today compared to our memories of them.”

    Maybe once in a while we could watch and you could review a classic movie to see if it stands the test of time. I’m talking To Kill A Mockingbird, or Rebecca, or something like It’s A Wonderful Life, or The Godfather. Any movie that was/is highly rated. Is it still good today? I think that would be interesting.

  10. Writing off all “Hollywood” movies as terrible strikes of someone painting everything with a mighty big brush. Gross generalisations are just that – gross – and I think Mr. Cooper is way off base here.

    Paul’s right though. TDKR is a very silly film that just gets worse the more you think about it (like Iron Man 3). I watched The Dark Knight Returns (the cartoon that WB made of the comic) the other day and that was fantastic, and about 10x darker than any Nolan film.

  11. I’m agreeing with Deborah Rose and as I posted the last time “TV show based on Science Fiction novels” question came up, I think “Caves of Steel” would make a good “future cop show”. But it may be too close in concept to Tek War, for Hollywood to see the difference. From what comes out of Hollywood, I don’t think a lot of people there read classic Sci Fi authors like Asimov, Bova, or Clarke.

    And, yes, he IS happy to see you. VERY happy.

    And the lady looks like she’s thinking “Oh crap! Why did I agree to this? Where’s my agent?”

  12. I can think of three I’ve read over the years; Heinliens, Methuselahs Children and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, James Blishes, ESPER and, even though it’s set a thousand years in the future, it’s mostly set in farming communities. The most advanced technology is a helicopter. It was Rebirth by John Wyndom. I think any one of those could make for a real fun series…Rebirth was my very first SciFi book, in 1954…

  13. On the matter of why Hollywood no longer makes good films…I think your “guest bloggers” touched on a number of valid reasons:

    1. Movies by committee (you end up with the lowest common denominator).
    2. Lack of central direction (too many focus groups and committees)
    3. We grew up!

    As an example of #3, I honestly enjoyed the 1978 Superman at the time, but when I rewatched it recently (along with Cookie) I saw all the plot holes, strange dialog, and non-sequitor reasoning. My 13 year old brain thought Superman was good, but my adult brain was no where near as impressed.

    I think Ponytail’s suggestion on sequels has some merit. Also, I wonder what the volume of new movies are (in comparison to the 70’s for example). When I was growing up, movie cinemas had one or two screens. Now my two local cinemas have twelve and thirty screens respectively. Does the pressure to fill all those extra screens mean that more and more crap gets through? During the last feature film Barb and I saw, we sat through seven trailers and there was only one that I was remotely interested in, so maybe more sub-standard movies are green-lit now days (or maybe I’m just more discerning…see #3 above).

  14. @Sparrow_hawk:

    Rebecca! That was a favorite in college. The “wicked house mistress in the burning mansion” was classic, and the dialog was memorable; “I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool!” So Joe, any Hitchcock in Cookie’s future?

  15. working on stargate, and several films in that time ruined my ability to suspend disbelief and take movies seriously. and not only just props, sets, and bad writing….but also WHY certain things are written a certain way. like seeing something that could have been cool, but they didn’t do because it cost too much money, or technical limitations, or actor contracts.

    I like books.

  16. I can’t remember the last time I sat in a Theatre… And even then, it was probably *only* because it had some Actor in it that I happen to KNOW “personally” and/or have met. Otherwise, I just wait for it to come out on DVD — for the same price of “big screen” & over-priced popcorn!

    BTW, is there an OSCAR catagory for YOUTUBE..?

    Anyway, don’t worry about it all, as “THE END” is near… Afterall, DISNEY bought STAR WARS — a true SIGN of THE APOCALYPSE!!

  17. To quote the immortal words of Alfred Hitchcock: “It’s only a movie”.

    I know you’re in the business, but maybe you do take it a bit too seriously. Some movies, yes, are art. Others become instant classics. A few live on for decades, maybe now even centuries. But in the end it’s a product that other people buy, and you need to package it – no matter how flawed – in a way that will appeal to the masses. And that’s what’s happening, like anything else a product is being packaged and sold to those who will buy it, and the new wave of consumers are quite different from those in the past. You take an audience of 18-35 year old adult males and sit them down to watch a movie like…say…Citizen Kane…and I’m betting most will be fidgeting in their seats and playing with their phones within 20 minutes. The modern target audience, for the most part, has no attention span whatsoever. They have little patience to wait for the story to unfold unless there’s 20 different plots unfolding at once, complete with explosions, gun fights, fist fights, boobs, and the occasional curse word.

    So, if you want a movie to succeed, you have to spoon feed them what they want. If they want shitty movies, then give them shitty movies until they puke, and don’t expect a brilliant film to somehow win them over just because it’s brilliant. Why do books like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Whatever fly off the shelves? Because people like crap. And really, sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes people just need something silly to take their minds off of real life for an hour or two. They just do. Look back in the day when the Hope/Crosby Road movies were big hits. They certainly were not considered good films in the day, but people loved them because they were silly and frivolous and made people happy. It happens…sometimes a shitty film just makes people feel good…and that’s why they keep coming back for more.

    That said, I think one of the biggest problems in Hollywood today is the ‘need’ to put out 25 potential blockbusters every summer. That’s just too many movies, and regardless how good one or two may be they’re hardly memorable when there is such a glut on the market. Most people remember every savory detail of one divinely presented meal at a fine restaurant, while they’ll only remember the sense of being overly stuffed and uncomfortable after a pig-out at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Right now the film industry is that all-you-can-eat buffet, and it’s what most people prefer to feast on at the moment. Find a way to get them away from the buffet and back to the fine dining, and maybe the industry will take heed. But as long as the audiences are gobbling up the junk there’s not much you can do to change it, and maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe people just need the overblown, overhyped big buffet because it’s easy and cheap and strangely satisfying, if only for the moment.


  18. some reasons I think

    1. you are in the business as a writer you are in a unique position to spot all of these devices that writers use and mistakes that they make. (I play bass guitar and find it difficult to listen to music and not just concentrate on and pick out the bass lines rather than enjoy the overall performance)

    2. You are older, more cynical

    3. the studios are making movies for the 12/15 age rating so they are for kids, when was the last time you watched an 18 (or R rated in the states) ?

    4. you are watching and reviewing “summer blockbusters” genre and the studios think these need to be loud, noisy and a spectacle. I imagine there are lots of notes going back and forth as they dont think the audience has a brain. Nolan managed to get away with it with Inception mostly but you could probably pick holes in that too.

    5. Everythings made by committee, I think since Terry Gilliam spent loads of cash studios have kept a tighter rein

    There are plot holes in jaws – sharks don’t behave like that or grow that big, I looooove Jaws, must have watched it forty or fifty times so I forgive it though 🙂

  19. Well I have beeten this dead horse so I might as well keep going. Using the books ( a three parter) that were done for Babylon 5 for the Technomages – which tie into another 3 parter but I am off subject. You could use the books as a starter but then explore what the Mages do after the war, their quest to save their kind, to see if an of them can join with there tech like Galen did, their quest to stop the use of other Shadow tech left behind, stories into the different types if mages, etc. if you read the Technomages books you might be able to come up with more then that and see the potential for some colorful characters and stories you could explore.

  20. I was going to make the argument that there are too many movies released over Summer with runs that are too short for them to ever have a chance to make their money back. But then I looked at the release dates of the top 10 biggest box office movies of all time and 6 of them were released in May, June or July. The remaining four were released in November or December. I think “peak-cinema” is coming, though. The studios won’t be able to keep funding these expensive movies that flop at the cinema and we’ll enter a time of more austere budgets where film makers will need to do more with less.

    Movies are made for 15-25 year olds because once you leave that age bracket you start to notice how crap movies are and stop wanting to pay for them. I look back with fond memories of the movies I saw in my youth but if I think hard enough I could come up with some glaring plot holes in many movies I love and can name a hell of a lot more movies that were total shite and barely remember unless I really try.

    The past is always looked at with rose tinted glasses and in 20-30 years time the youth of today will look back with fond memories of Pacific Rim and The Dark Knight Rises not because they’re good films but because life was good when they saw them.

    As for TV shows . . . I can’t think of anything specific to suggest. I think that with the success of Game Of Thrones and True Blood there’s never been a better time to pitch an adaptation of long-form novels to TV. However, I also think that TV is almost dead as a medium and that production methodologies and financing is changing radically. I spend almost as much time watching web series as I do traditional TV series and none of them are watched on broadcast TV but are all timeshifted/on-demand and commercial free.

    There is still good TV being made, though. A couple of TV shows I’ve watched recently that slipped under my radar:

    Orphan Black – A little predictable at times but more than made up for by the amazing performances by Tatiana Maslany. If you don’t know anything about it I won’t spoil it for you. Just watch the first 3 minutes and decide if you want to watch it:


    Utopia – A dark, violent and sometimes unsettling conspiracy theory series:

  21. I’m currently reading this: http://www.amazon.com/The-Atlantis-Gene-Thriller-Mystery/dp/1940026016/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1377173505&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=he+Atlantis+Gene%3A+A+Thriller+%28The+Origin+Mystery%2C+Book+1%29
    I’m only about 25% in, so I can’t really speak to the whole story, but so far it’s interesting. And so far, it fits the bill.

    I watch a LOT of movies. The last memorable film in my mind was “The Impossible”. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1649419/?ref_=sr_1 Well written, well acted, and powerful. It had its problems. Namely, it drug to a crawl down about half way. But overall, one of the best I’ve seen in awhile.

    That being said, with the amount of movies I watch (7-8 per week, every week), there should be more memorable titles. I’ve come to the conclusion that movies just aren’t made for me any longer. I guess, like you said, I’m getting older. But I’ll keep at it.

  22. What das said.

    @JeffW: I’m sure I saw Rebecca a long time ago, but can’t remember it. Another film for the Netflix queue!

    Queue. What and interesting word…

  23. I agree with @RichS. All movies have plot holes, even our favorites. Everytime I watch Die Hard 2, I wonder why they didn’t just get cars from the parking lots line them along the runways and turn on the headlights to illuminate the runways for the planes. Of course that would have ended the movie pretty quickly and the most enjoyable part is the action.

    As for DKR, maybe Paul took the ‘let it burn’ too literally. Yes Bane was going to use the fusion device eventually, but first he attempted to ‘burn down’ the integrity of the city’s moral structure by letting loose all the criminals and allowing chaos a free reign which would, he hoped, demoralize the forces of good and bring out the ‘burning desires’ of some normally lawbiding citizens to burst into full flame.

  24. How about this for a TV Series,

    It’s the year 2023 (leaving imagination going for 5 seasons without real-life catching up with the show before it’s over)

    2 years before, A friendly group of humanoid aliens have landed (None of that turn-out-to-be-evil crap), They’ve integrated themselves into our daily lives, Humans and aliens living together in peace.

    They observe and learn from our ways, And we do the same in return.

    Ofcourse there are still some humans who aren’t happy to be sharing earth with outsiders. They form a group and become the shows main antagonists.

    Enter a newly created group of people, The good guys, Both human and alien, Working together to stop the threat posed by the bad guys. Ofcourse our heroes still need to adapt to eachother, There’s some tension, But in the end they’ll turn out to become great friends.

    Sub-plot 1, At the end of season 1, It turns out these aliens came here for a reason (Not evil!!!) It seems they are looking for an ancient society that predates any known race in the galaxy, And humans are connected to them in some way. The aliens are looking for the meaning of life, And they believe understanding humanities past holds the key to finding the ancestors.

    Sub-plot 2, Several Thousand years ago, The ancestors left our world, But not without leaving clues behind for us to find so that maybe someday we could find out where they went and why they left.

    Sub-plot 2b, Hidden across the earth are artifacts, Crystals containing the knowledge of our ancestors, Once all found and put together, They show the way to where they went (This doesn’t happen untill the final episode of the show) But between the pilot and the finale we do get to find out more about them through stuff like writings found at the locations where the Crystals can be found.

    Enter our group of heroes, On a large quest to find these Crystals. The key to finding them? Our past, Mythology, Legends, Folklore, History. Clues can be found everywhere, If you’re actually trying hard enough to find them.

    In the beginning the bad guys are trying to stop our team, They don’t know about the quest though, They just want the outsiders gone. It’s not untill the very final few episodes that the quest is revealed and the bad guys turn themselves over and everyone ends up working together for the betterment of all life, Both human and extra terrestrial.

    The End.

  25. Yeah and if someone makes a good or even great movie like Lincoln,
    almost nobody is going to watch it.

  26. i think The Dresden Files deserves another chance as a series. the horrible mess that syfy made of harry & co should be buried and forgotten. they tried to change the characters too much to (presumably) make them mainstream enough to satisfy … exactly no-one. with proper script writers (who “get” the personality and quirks of the characters, and are not afraid of magic) it could do well. and if put on by hbo or showtime with a proper budget, it could do very well indeed. The number of books is up somewhere in the ‘teens, and Butcher shows no sign of stopping until 20 – while promising a wowser of an apocalyptic trilogy at the end.

  27. Hey, you know what would make a great television series?

    Joe, I suggest you follow a different (but similar) ship in the Firefly ‘verse.

    This would open up opportunities for the Firefly alum to guest star on your show.

    Built-in fan base.

    What could go wrong?! 🙂

  28. Movies budgets seem to slowly but surely be going up over the years, surely something will have to give at some point for some movies to be sustainable to studios. You only have to see how Man of Steel had a $225 million budget, I’m sure that won’t be the last of insanely budgeted movies, it wouldn’t surprise me in the future if some pass $300 million.. lol

  29. Attn: Paul Mullie

    Yes, Hollywood sucks these days. How did it get there? One word: desensitization. We’ve been fed ever increasing levels of pure cinematic crap every year and Hollywood has tapped into(if not even helped cause) the collective ADD of viewers. The next time you watch a commercial, TV show, or movie, count the number of seconds between camera angle switches and scene cuts. For commercials, it’s typically 1 to 1.5 seconds. For most TV shows, I’ve found it to be about 4-5 seconds. For movies, it seems to be no longer than about 8 seconds, but most action films are shorter than that.

    I’m sorry, but it’s hard to tell a good character driven story when you’re unable to connect to said character since you can’t look at them for more than a few seconds at a time. I truly believe that this kind of thing has rewired a lot of brains out there, sadly. If you were to take someone who went opening night to those summer blockbusters(Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, Avengers, etc.) and put them in front of anything shot before, let’s say, 1965, they’d probably have a conniption fit from over-boredom. Do you really think they could sit through movies like Casablanca? 12 Angry Men? How about Sabrina(the 1954 original)? No constant background music, no humungous set changes, and no quick camera changes. They’d pull their freakin’ hair out!

    Even video games these days are made for the short bursts of action. Bungie(the developer of Halo) said years ago that if they could just nail that “30 seconds of action” that a game “needs”, the rest will fall into play. Kind of sad really when you end up playing a game that is supposed to take 6 hours to complete, but realize the true excitement comes in 30 second bursts and it’s the SAME action every single time.

    I’d say 90% of what comes out in theaters today is unwatchable, perhaps more. It’s a busy year for me if I go to the theaters more than once. I’ll be going for an unprecedented third time this year to see The World’s End, the final chapter in the Cornetto Trilogy(I enjoy most Edgar Wright movies). I saw 42 with a writer friend of mine since he was reviewing it for a local paper and got me in for free with him, and I saw Man of Steel since I had a free ticket and was cautiously curious. 42 was good, the artistic license was obvious, but still, a good movie. MoS was not so good. I don’t like what they did with Supe. He’s not “theirs” to tinker with. Tell HIS story, not some “dark, brooding” spin on it that seems to be popular(i.e. selling the most tickets) right now. That movie could have been soooo good with just a few tweaks….

    Sorry for the abrupt halt, but I need to stop. I could go on for a while on this kind of topic and how I think Hollywood, and movies in general(Indie stuff included!) absolutely suck these days. Heroes with no real saving grace, stories that don’t add up, too much CGI, and love stories solely based on sex(i.e. they have to have sex to find out they love each other). I’m tired of it all. Besides, most movies these days you could just say, “oh, it’s (movie x) meets (movie y) with a little bit of (current “hit” tv show)”. I know that’s how they pitch these steamers anyway, no script reading necessary.

    Sad days.

    -Mike A.

  30. Joe, you almost described the early stargate series before you had space battles in every episode. That begs the question: did stargate become too expensive to produce? Do you pitch spec scripts to get the franchise back on the air?

  31. Would Scalzi’s AGENT TO THE STARS be a decent starting point? Or is that story a one-off?

    (I see my previous comment posted. Thanks, Joe.)

  32. 1. Pendergast…the Pendergast series would make a great tv show.

    2. Coolness for the day: Mom and dad were at the doctor’s today, and they called out a man’s name in the waiting room. When the man got up to go in my mom asked him his first name. He told her, and she asked if he was the same guy who – as a kid – had lived two doors down from us. He was!! This guy was my ‘Gilbert Grape’ (and the reason that movie has very special meaning to me). His mom and siblings lived in a rundown old house with holes in the roof and broken windows. Just watch that movie and that’s what it was like…the mom, the kids, the rural setting…everything. We were in 7th grade, I think, when they moved in, and this kid and I would play every night after school, usually either exploring the woods or playing with my dog. I remember vividly one night when we were playing with the dog in our yard and I rolled in big pile of doggy doo…while wearing my sister’s beloved school jacket. Yeah, we got a big laugh out of that! 🙂 She, however, did not. 😛 They only lived there a short time but I have always wondered what happened to my ‘Gilbert’. Now I know! He’s doing quite well and – get this – like me he has a black cat named…BOO!!! 😀

    What are the odds? Oh, and he also has a French bulldog. Cool, no? 🙂


  33. I too like some of the old movies, but some of them are pretty nonsensical too.
    Bringing up Baby, comes to mind. (Which I just noticed is available on DVD)
    Another of my favourites: Arsenic and old Lace.

  34. This has some similarities to the classic “The Puppet Master”

    All over the world a small percentage of people begin to dream the same dream. These dreamers become obsessed with building a device. Soon the net has many sites devoted to the object they dream of. They are unable to describe the device except by vague generalities that it’s important to the human race, the most important thing we’ve ever done.

    Soon these people are losing their jobs, their families. Some of them die, electrocuted by their own crazy mish mash of junk they throw together, a kind of crazy modern art. Those early devices look similar to what they dream of, but do not function. Some are killed as they attempt to hook it up to main power lines. Eventually a few have the knowledge, skills and resources to build it right.

    The devices are receivers. What comes out of them are aliens. The aliens are parasites. Dark grey, almost black, extremely dense and heavy, no bigger then a loaf of bread, they can create multiple pseudo pods and once they touch you they enter your body and take it over. They can stretch a ‘tentacle’ to twelve feet long at a speed so fast it can break concrete or easily drive through a persons skull.

    They consume the body from the inside out. They take control of the body, forming tendrils along the entire nervous system and brain. They can take any animal, or simply snatch animals and insects as they go by until they find a suitable host. As they consume their host they double their mass until they divide. They can choose to divide or not. They can consume their host in as little as three weeks, or bide their time if they have an important host that can aid in the invasion. When they divide they lose some of their intelligence. They faster they divide the sooner they begin to lose control, they consume their hosts faster, divide faster and so on.
    Some never divide, others cannot control themselves. Some treat their hosts well, some go insane gorging themselves, driving their hosts to extreme acts, torturing them for their amusement.

    The aliens are made of materials unknown to us, it may be speculated that it could be a mixture of dark matter and normal matter that can form cells. As the aliens consume their host or other organic material they convert it to their own material. It is believed that they might take hydrogen from water and other elements and using dark matter as a catalyst convert it into energy, dark matter and other elements that support the conversion in their biology.

    The device is found to be a receiver, but in order for it to work there must be transmitters. They don’t come from other planets, they are too far away. They come from parallel universes, an infinite supply of earths, humans and animals from which to feed. They strip a planet bare then a few manage to push themselves on to the next most similar “closest” world using transmitting machines they build. Those worlds most similar are the easiest to transmit to. While in the host they can use the transmitter to force thoughts into their hosts double, if it is alive in a similar (“close”) world.

    After a while there are so many of the creatures that they parasitize all humans, and have eaten all animals, the ocean life, insects, a few must move on. Those teaming hordes that are left must take what little sustenance they can from plants and mushrooms. They soon begin to attack each other. Soon the planet is dead. No plants, no oxygen, no animals. No fungus or plankton in the oceans. A dead lifeless world.

    They appear to convert hydrogen. A parasitized host that is not being consumed at maximum speed will need to drink and eat large amounts of food to keep from being consumed. During early stages of the invasion they will attempt to hide this.

    Note that as parasite levels increase the world food supply will quickly be consumed by the hosts. They must control key political, government, corporate and armed forces positions so they can maintain food supplies until they have secured the planet. They are vulnerable during the initial invasion.

    It’s usually just a few aliens that get through to the next world. The most intelligent that have enough self control not to divide. They plan ahead to get the positions of power and influence so they can build the machines to move on to the next world. But a few will divide, and those will further divide, as they divide they always become less able to control their appetites.

    They have several advantages when they have a host.
    They can either stay in the central mass allowing the body of a larger human to protect them as a sort of shield, or they can spread out in the body, making it less likely to be hit by a bullet.
    They are so dense that small arms fire (handguns) do not harm them. They can push the host beyond normal physical attributes. They can keep the host alive for extended periods even with heavy damage. The parasite does not feel the pain of the host, although they are aware of it. Some are sadistic and enjoy inflicting pain on the host.
    They can use any animal as a host that is large enough to carry them. They can last for days without a host if they can catch animals. They can even survive in the ocean by spreading out with fine testicles and capturing small sea life and plankton.
    They can form almost any shape as long as it conforms to a minimum size.
    They can completely take over the host, slip in when the host is asleep, drunk or drugged. If it takes over the host completely then it can use the hosts brains, or consume them. If it slips in it can subtly effect the host. Prevent it from weighing itself, or if it does, remember a reading less then the actual.

    Their disadvantages are:
    They are very heavy, about 12 kilos or 25 lbs. Human hosts weight more then they should. Public transportation and buildings begin to have scales at controlled entrances with drop down barriers.
    They use a lot of energy to move. People watch out for anyone who eats or drinks too much.
    If they consume their host without a new one nearby, they will be unable to move more then a small amount. They will have to wait for something or someone to happen by.
    They are vulnerable to fire, explosives. They could be chopped up with an axe, but invariably they are able to kill the attacker before the attacker can kill them. A mob might do it, but then it’s too easy for the alien to escape via another human.
    A high powered firearm can damage them, which requires energy to repair. Sustained firepower will kill them.
    It’s density is very high and shows up on xrays and disrupts many medical diagnostic equipment such as cat scans, MRI scans and the like.
    Hosts that are being consumed quickly look like crack addicts on a hunger strike. They can break bones and have large sores, cuts and broken teeth that they don’t notice. They look like zombies, except they are still somewhat alive.
    The host can be killed by fire, mechanical separation, crushing, high volume of firearms, but the alien might be able to move to another host, or hide and wait.

    Some of their other properties and or abilities are:
    They can use their pseudo pods to contact humans up to 12 feet away, once touching skin they form tiny filaments that go into the body and travel up nerves. They disrupt the nerves and immobilize their prey. The filaments are so thin that only a very small amount is needed to overcome the entire body.
    They have a minimum size. If chopped up or blown up, they cannot create more of themselves from the small parts.

    There are a number of different ways this could be done in a series.
    A straight telling, from start to finish:
    The dreams of people in a world slightly different from our own.
    The infiltration
    The fall of society
    The fall of man
    The fall of the world
    The aliens turn on themselves
    The aliens that survived and didn’t destroy their hosts (the aliens with self control) contacting a new world.
    A few people in our world begin to have dreams of a device that can receive information from another world. It starts again.

    There are a lot of areas to explore. Teams of agents tracking down the dreamers and destroying their machines. Governments bombing countries that become infected. A government worker in DARPA that has dreams about building the machine, but is smart enough to tell his superiors so they build one, find out what it is, and get a head start on fighting back.
    Later there can be a zombie like world where the few remaining people are being hunted.
    But it also has the ability to reset and go to the next world. To go a world with different technology. To have humans hijack a transmitter and go through to the next world and warn them.
    You can look at it from the large scale to the very small scale, some guy who becomes obsessed with building a machine, only to be taken by an alien, then eat his own family.
    It can be setup as a kind of mystery, where some people are dreaming the same dream and strange things start happening. People going missing. Buildings exploding. Military search and destroy teams. A military team to bag an alien. A team of scientists in a bunker that captures and examines one of the creatures.

  35. I suggest “The Robot Novels” by Asimov. Another Star Gate or Star Trek would be appreciated as well.

    So tired today…..

    How is Lulu’s paw?

  36. I’ve always thought that the hunters kiss series of books would make an amazing TV series. The stories a very character driven and the interaction with here demons is very different to everything else. There is also so much potential for stories. It is one of the few series of books Ive read that I can see working as an amazing tv series.

  37. ~My eyes glazed over right about the tent poles, sorry.
    ~~@baterista9, positive thoughts and {{hugs}} for Friday.

  38. How about a TV show based on Johnny Mnemonic? Well, more like Neuromancer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromancer

    Or, a show based on Logan’s Run. In the movie we only see one dome. Perhaps there are others that need to be explored…?

    (There was a Logan’s Run TV show before, but it was only 14 episodes and it had aliens and time travel and stuff… not other domes.)

  39. @ baterista9 – Thinking of you and hoping everything will be just fine! {{hugs}}


  40. Watching the British dramedy “Doc Martin” on PBS. It strikes me as being similar to “Northern Exposure”. Then there’s “Castle”, a modern retelling of “The Taming of the Shrew”. Surely there’s something vintage or classic that’s ready for a reboot; will speak up if I think of one.

  41. For the series question, I would have to say the Guardians of the Flame series by the late Joel Rosenberg. The stories are character rich and definitely enough detail and ideas to fill a at least 5 seasons and a movie or two.

  42. SF series. Sorta.
    All characters are fictional. Honest.

    An unsuccessful television writer who’s one claim to fame was a pilot purchased by Fox but never aired finds himself in his Akron Ohio apartment, depressed, drinking and trying to watch his favourite sitcom reruns on his broken DVR. Although Akron Ohio was one of the last places Dale could find cheap apartments, an number of eviction notices are piled on his cheap Formica and pressboard coffee table.

    He pulls the non functioning DVR out of the rack of old Akai cassette tape decks and cheap speakers that frame his 36 six inch tube TV, which he can’t get rid of because none of his friends will help him move it to the hatch back of his gremlin, which it wouldn’t fit in anyways. Even if it did fit the gremlin often fails to start. (He tried pushing the tube TV out the window but it wouldn’t fit there either)

    With the DVR on the floor, surrounded by patch cables and speaker wire, he pries the cover up and investigates for anything he might recognize. With the speaker wires and patch cords getting in the way he pushes them aside, but some fall into the open DVR case which is still plugged into the AC outlet, and is still plugged in. Sparks fly, his hair stands on end, and our intrepid hero is sucked into a trans-dimensional inter-spatial field and deposited into a parallel universe.

    Our hero whom we call call Dale Shivlack, wakes with a brutal headache in a palatial apartment with a better dressed version of himself lying beside a very expensive looking stone coffee table with blood leaking out of his nose and mouth. He examines the copy of himself, and deduces he got his feet tangled in the outrageously expensive Monster speaker cable, slipped on the expensive Persian rug and smashed his head open on a thick soapstone coffee table. He was very dead.

    Dale soon finds out this new world he no lives in is the high point of human existence. Humans are happy all over the world, peace has existed for a hundred years. Humans are living on mars. The entire human race is wealthy, educated and fed. The only television programming available is documentaries that are designed to educate and illuminate. It seems that in this world Dale was a successful director of documentaries. Some of his work included “Pottery in Second Century China”, “Brazil’s Climb Out of the Great Fiscal Imprudence” and his award winning “Talk Loud” about people who talk loud on cell phones, and the fines they are forced to pay. Awards litter his expensive looking soapstone shelves.

    Unable to get back to his own universe, Dale disposes of the corpse of his double and takes over his life. He attempts to make a few documentaries, but they both fail terribly. His first, a documentary about unwed single mothers fails because the audiences find it too unbelievable that girls and boys would neglect their responsibilities to safe sex. His next was stopped half way through filming when he realized he couldn’t find any strippers anywhere in the continental United States. Or anywhere else in the world.

    Dropping into another severe bout of depression he decides to introduce sitcoms to this world. He starts with Married With Children. Dale finds he has a hit, his production company ramps up and he starts ripping off more shows, poorly remembered, most of which were not that great to begin with.
    By the time government officials try to put a lid on these new shows, the public is clamoring for more. Dale’s fame and fortune increases and he finds he is able to purchase a palatial mansion in the center of this universes US television and film Meca, Akron Ohio.

    Dale makes a fortune but society begins to change, and not for the better.

  43. How about the Time Traveller’s Wife? It had pretty much everything to hold the viewer.
    I do have an original idea of my own, a cross between Life on Mars and the Rockford files,- with a few twists! I have an outline of where I want to take it, and I see it as a series that would (hopefully) have the momentum to last more than a few seasons. I would be willing to share with the right person…BTW, got my surgery yesterday. Still a bit woozy, but some folks would say that’s nothing new!

  44. I always thought the PC game MYST would make a great tv show. There are essentially thousands of different ages a team of interceptive explores could visit. All with unique cultures and problems to deal with. Not to mention the fact that some of the ages could be unstable causing weird things to happen like time going backwards or pieces of the ground simply not working like ground traditionally does.

    I even wrote a pilot years ago. Essentially the premise was a wealthy professor discovers the MYST book while on a dig in the Mojave. Being the curious type, he touches the linking page and vanishes. His students witness the incident and contact local law enforcement. After some locals baffle over the book a government research team shows up and takes the book. After several years of research, they find they cannot really figure out how or what the book is. The book is deemed too dangerous and is locked away at like Area 51 or Cheyenne Mountain.

    When the professor’s family discovers no one is doing anything to rescue him they fund their own private team to go into the book. A lovable team of misfits is assembled. Some ex-military and a disgraced scientist who had worked on the original book team.

    Once they were inside the book they would discover the professor and find that he has amassed an assortment of linking books. They would search through the linking books searching for a way home. Once they discover a linking book back to Earth they will have of course upset some hostile race that wants to conquer Earth. So then, the mission becomes part discovery and part protection of Earth.

  45. Brooks Peninsula is the only place in Canada that escaped the mile thick sheet of ice that covered most of North America. It’s roughly 10 miles long by 6 miles wide and located close to the top of the west coast of Vancouver Island.

    All of Canada, much of the US covered by a mile thick layer of ice. All except for this one little section of land. An oasis bordering the immense Pacific ocean that was roiling from storm after storm, and on the other side, a sheet of ice that stretched just as far as the Pacific ocean did, but is far more inhospitable.

    It would have been a perfect spot for aliens to build a scientific outpost to study this world during a glaciation period. Perhaps it’s even possible the outpost was founded during the ice age previous to the last ice age.

    A group of grad students have made a long term camp in the Brooks Peninsula Park in order for them to research their fields of expertise and how the ice age and it’s retreat effected the biology. It’s May and it’s been raining for a month and a mudslide two miles upstream of a raging creek barrels down on three of the students who are collecting tree cores. They make it to high ground just in time as a huge boulder careens off the creeks walls. The boulder bounces out and hits the side of a rocky wall, shattering the boulder and wall. Behind the crumbling rock wall is a perfectly smooth tunnel that glows faintly blue in the dark and cloudy day.

    The three students get the rest of the group and investigate the tunnel. They are not seen again for six months. Search and rescue find the tunnel still faintly glowing, but empty. When the grad student group next appear they have no memory of what has transpired. After months of isolation in various government labs and holding facilities they are finally released to pursue their own lives. All of them begin to achieve extraordinary results, all suddenly geniuses in their own fields and others as they expand their education.

    Canada and the US engage in a joint operation to secure the tunnel and find out the tunnels secrets, what happened to the students and if the tunnel contains anything that can be an asset or a threat.

    The race is on as governments around the world threaten, bride and cajole to gain access to the tunnel. Headlines appear in papers and in news shows saying the government has found alien technology, weapons and an energy source to power the world. When the US and Canada denies the rumors governments only become more entrenched. The US fleet sits off the coast of Vancouver Island, along with French, UK and Russian submarines and destroyers. Tensions ramp up as a French submarine collides with a Canadian destroyer.

    Then the Brooks Peninsula students disappear again. All eleven young men and women, from all over the country, at the same time in the blink of an eye. At the exact same time a copper coloured sphere the height of a human appears inside the Brooks tunnel, glowing faintly in the blue light. It shoots out of the tunnel and flies south at supersonic speed. It is followed by another forty three spheres in blinding quick succession. So quick that the military are caught off guard. Only one soldier is able to turn his weapon on the last sphere, but he either misses or the steel core bullets are ineffectual.

  46. Of course Dark Matter would make a great series. That would go without saying. I’m very optimistic about Almost Human that will be airing on Fox. I’ve seen the pilot and it was very good. I saw Elysium on Friday. I thought it was a great movie. Josh Blacker kicked ass in it as Crowe. And got to see a few of our other Stargate favorites, too.

  47. Not sure who owns the rights, but Ex Machina by Brian K Vaughan would make a great television show. Kind of like the West Wing meets Iron Man.

  48. I view films and television as falling into broad categories of the desired experience – i.e. watch a ‘popcorn’ flick where it’s not as much about plot as about having fun, or watching something more serious and thought-provoking. Some films and television can achieve more than one experience, and those I think are the best, but it doesn’t mean other ones aren’t enjoyable for the moment.

    Let me just point out that in The Dark Knight Rises, Talia al Ghul was the mastermind behind everything so least blame the right villain. I found the movie enjoyable still, but I guess I’m just used to villains’ plans often not making any sense *coughMichaelKenmoreandTeyla’sbabycough* 😛

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