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All posts for the month October, 2015

Three new series this season struck me as odd ideas, with one central theme: take a property from a few years ago, and re-purpose it as a mismatched-duo crime procedural. You know, when someone with a unique skillset teams with a no-nonsense cop or agent to solve murders? Of course you do, they’re everydamnedwhere.

Minority Report the movie was about a society where three psychic siblings spend their lives hooked up to a machine so that the police can use them to predict crimes, arresting people before they have a chance to commit them. The title, “Minority Report,” refers to incidents where one of the psychics (if I recall correctly, often if not always the sister, who was the most powerful) has a differing view of the future. These “minority reports” were discarded, when in fact they were evidence that the entire system was flawed and needed to be discarded. Minority Report the TV show, which would have been the title of Larry Wilmore’s “Nightly Show” if these assholes hadn’t bogarted it, conveniently forgets that last part, and has one of the two brothers start working with a no-nonsense cop to prevent murders.

Limitless was a Bradley Cooper vehicle based around that stupid “We only use 10% of our brains” myth, but the TV show mostly ducks around it so whatevs. Basically, Cooper’s character Eddie Morra takes a pill called NZT that turns him hyper-intelligent, and uses it to… do stuff? Except there are side effects? I honestly don’t know. Been meaning to watch that movie for like a month. Anyhoo, the series takes place some time later, when Eddie Morra is a Senator who everyone assumes is planning a run at the White House. Brian Finch is a slacker musician whose father is sick, but gets a chance to turn his life around when, while working a mind-numbing temp job, an ex-bandmate gives him a hit of NZT, which allows him to easily access every memory from his entire life, processing information like a human computer. Said ex-bandmate is murdered shortly thereafter, and Brian finds himself on the run from the FBI while using his old friend’s NZT stash to solve the crime, diagnose his father, and other issues. When the withdrawal starts getting bad, and the real murderer manages to shoot Brian in the leg, Senator Morra turns up, offering Brian an injection that will let him use NZT free of side effects, provided he do two things: 1) work with the FBI, and 2) never, ever tell anyone about this meeting or the injections. Anyone. Ever. So he and an FBI agent solve murders. Which is weird because murders typically aren’t FBI jurisdiction (barring hitmen and serial killers), but whatever.

The comic book Lucifer follows the adventures of fallen angel Lucifer Morningstar as he tries to make a life on Earth after abandoning his post as ruler of Hell in the pages of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The Fox series Lucifer assumes that his life on Earth involves solving crimes with the LAPD, why not.

Now, I could complain here. I could ask “Why are you digging up old movies (and Lucifer) and trying to turn them into The Mentalist?” But frankly Minority Report (and, in all probability, Lucifer) will be gone soon, and I actually kinda like Limitless. So instead, let’s go nuts with it. Here’s some other properties that weren’t at all about solving crimes that I’ve forcibly and illogically reinvented as Castle clones.

Networks looking to hire me, I’m on Twitter and Instagram but not Snapchat. Should I get Snapchat? I feel like I should. Sorry, got distracted. Onwards!

Short Circuit

Short-Circuit

 

The Movie: a military robot is struck by lightning, becoming self-aware. When his sudden sentience is seen as a glitch, he hides out with Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy) until he can convince his programmer (Steve Guttenberg, someone younger readers might be surprised to learn was once a legitimate movie star) he is now truly alive.

The Show: Number Five is alive… and he’s looking for justice! The first true AI, granted official citizenship last time we saw him, realizes that human police can’t be trusted to investigate crimes which may involve other emerging AIs on their own. So he teams up with computer-hating NYPD detective David Prescott (Brooklyn 99’s Vulture, Dean Winters) to solve murders involving high-tech. Number Five is hungry for input, Detective Prescott is hungry to fight crime, and together they’ll chart a path. Hell, you could probably get Guttenberg and Sheedy to pop up now and again. Neither of them seem busy.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventurers

B&T

The Movie: Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan are destined to found a band (The Wyld Stallyns) that ushers in a golden age of world peace and harmony. Unless they fail history class, in which case Ted’s father will send him to military school in Alaska. Thus, in the far future, The Most Important People in The World send a man named Rufus back in time so that he can lend Bill and Ted a time machine with which to ace their history project. So begins Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!

The Show: Not everyone wants to see the Wyld Stallyns’ utopia come to fruition. Someone is messing with history, trying to ensure that the future is changed. As such, Bill and Ted recruit a few people to protect the time stream: rock-hating jazz-loving FBI agent Nora Dawson (Alcatraz/Vegas’ Sarah Jones), historian Vivian Thorn (Leverage’s Beth Riesgraf), and the founders of Drag Me Away, the number one Wyld Stallyns cover band. With frequent guidance from Bill and infrequent help from Ted (during sweeps, if Keanu’s not busy filming John Wick sequels, which he should absolutely keep doing), Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventurers track temporal anomalies while seeking whoever is trying to undo Utopia.

Zero Effect

Darryl Zero is… no, wait, Zero Effect was just a modernization of Sherlock Holmes. There are already two different TV shows about that. Moving on.

I Heart Huckabees

huckabees

The Movie: Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) hires existentialist detectives Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian (Lily Tomlin) to figure out if sleazy corporate stooge Brad Stand (Jude Law) is out to get him. In the process, Bernard and Vivian (and seemingly rival existentialist detective Caterine Vauban) trick Albert and Brad into facing deep, unsettling truths about themselves. And a bunch of other stuff. It’s a hella weird movie. I impulse purchased it on DVD, I should really watch it a second time one of these days…

The Show: LAPD officer Jill Quinn (Summer Glau) has a gift for identifying probable murderers, but her aggressive investigation style often keeps her from closing cases. As such, she starts working with Bernard and Vivian’s proteges Alec and Tamlin (Agents of SHIELD’s B.J. Britt and Arrow’s Rila Fukushima) to identify murderers and trick them into confessing through existentially making them confront their guilt.

That’s enough of a break from blogging, don’t you think?

Later this season, the forensic-science-based crime procedural Bones will do a crossover with Sleepy Hollow, the show in which time-displaced Ichabod Crane works with the police to battle the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and other magic-based menaces. It’s like Murder She Wrote crossing over with The X-Files. It makes no sense. But the network clearly liked the idea, so now that is a real thing that is going to happen.

And yet Supergirl is still forbidden from crossing over with fellow DC shows Flash and Arrow. Thanks, television. Way to make sense.

So with that in mind, here are some other TV crossovers that would make at least as much sense as, and I would rather see than, the impending Bones/Sleepy Hollow team-up. Hopefully they’re all as entertaining as this one (forgive the Quiznos product integration):

Resisting the urge to just slap Doctor Who into each of them.

Arrow of Interest

AOI

Arrow is about Oliver Queen’s evolution from brutal vigilante the Hood to Justice Leaguer Green Arrow as he fights to protect his city with the help of his team. Over on Person of Interest, reclusive billionaire Eric Finch (not his real name) teams with presumed-dead ex-special forces operative John Reese (probably also not his real name) to stop murders before they happen with the help of Finch’s slightly-alive supercomputer, which can predict violent crimes and feed Finch the social security number of either the victim or the perpetrator.

Yes, they’re on separate networks, but the street-level superheroics of Arrow would mesh surprisingly well with the cyber-paranoia of Person of Interest. Both combine the brutal combat skills of one (or several) team members (Oliver, Reese) with the improbable hacking skills of another (Felicity Smoak, Finch). Both have an ally they can never really trust, but not until their third seasons, so I won’t name them. So here’s how I see it going down…

On Person of Interest, Finch receives a new number: that of computer expert Felicity Smoak, visiting New York from Star City. Reese initially assumes from her awkward and dorky manner that she must be the victim, but Finch is less certain when he uncovers her connection to hacker group Brother Eye, also recently arrived in New York. Reese begins to agree when his attempts to tail Felicity lead him not only to Brother Eye’s founder, her ex-boyfriend, but also into a confrontation with Star City’s vigilante, the Arrow. However, by the end of the first hour, it becomes clear that the Arrow and Reese have a mutual enemy in Brother Eye, who are attempting to expose and revive a super-soldier program called OMAC. Over on Arrow, Felicity and Finch attack Brother Eye electronically while Oliver and Reese must deal with the awakened OMAC soldier, a combination of digitally-inserted fighting skills and chemically enhanced strength and speed, alarmingly similar to that of Oliver’s frenemy Slade Wilson. In the end, they part as… well, not friends per se, but not enemies.

If the network thing is an issue, swap out Arrow for Supergirl.

iSuperZombie

superzombie

Supernatural is about the ongoing struggles of Sam and Dean Winchester to defend the world from whatever supernatural menaces they can find. On iZombie, recently deceased surgeon Liv Moore takes a job in the city morgue in order to a) get access to the brains she needs to stay mostly human, and b) solve murders by accessing the memories and personalities of the victims through eating their brains. There’s a fair amount of brain eating, is what I’m saying.

They seem an obvious match-up, but there’s one twist… despite having an undead lead character, there’s not much supernatural about iZombie. The zombie outbreak facing Seattle (and beyond?) is believed to be caused by either a tainted batch of ecstasy-style drug Utopium, or by energy drink Max Rager. But the addition of Supernatural elements might be a neat twist, and wouldn’t be totally out of place, which is not something Bones can say.

Liv’s SPD colleague, Detective Babineaux, has a tricky case on his hands: a victim who died in inexplicable circumstances. When Liv eats his brain, she receives a vision of something horrible: a humanoid figure that is clearly not human. Liv has discovered the existence of monsters. Her partner and confidant Ravi assures her there’s no such thing as monsters (while finding an awkward yet witty way of addressing the fact that he is technically talking to a monster), but when she looks into it further, she discovers that the victim was a Hunter, a person who hunts demons, ghosts, and monsters. Like zombies. When two men claiming to be FBI agents named after classic rock band members arrive to investigate the murder, she realizes they, too, are Hunters: the Winchester brothers.

Liv uses her brain-transferred memories and personality traits to impersonate a hunter in order to help the Winchesters must find the monster. She is also torn: if she can tell the Winchesters about zombies, maybe they can help curb their growing numbers. But they might also realize that she’s one of them, and decide she has to go too. She also tries to hide the truth of the crime from Ravi, lest discovering the existence of magic deter him from his efforts to cure her condition through science. Liv has discovered a larger world she can’t tell anyone about, whereas Sam figures out the truth, but worries that Dean will see Liv as simply a monster rather than an ally.

Writes itself, people.

Modern Muppet Family

modern muppets

No, too easy. Frankly, I’d be amazed if this didn’t happen in some way or another by next year’s Emmys. Nope, moving on.

Elementary 99

Elementary 99

 

Elementary is a modern-day retelling of Sherlock Holmes set in New York. Brooklyn 99 is a workplace comedy about police detectives in Brooklyn’s 99th district.

One’s a drama, one’s a single-camera sitcom. But both have, as their central character, a spectacular egotist who defines himself by his ability to solve crimes. So this shouldn’t be hard.

Detective Jake Peralta is not having a good day. A consultant from Manhattan, Sherlock Holmes, has been called in to help with a rash of homicides. Jake refuses to acknowledge that anyone in New York can out-solve him, while Sherlock refuses to acknowledge Jake’s presence in anything but condescending tones. Captain Holt doesn’t much care for Holmes’ presence either, being largely against outside consultants, but nonetheless orders Jake to work with him, having been encouraged to do so by Manhattan’s Captain Gregson. But when the case proves tough to crack, and… Wunch? No… the Vulture? No, he doesn’t steal tough cases… the federal agents who Jake made enemies of in Windbreaker City threaten to steal the case, Jake and Sherlock must join forces to solve the crime. Also Boyle has a crush on Watson. Seems like something he’d do.

Halt and Catch Doctor

Halt Doctor

So I folded.

If you read this blog, you know what Doctor Who is. Halt and Catch Fire is a cable drama about five people in the early to mid-80s trying to stake their claim in the growing computer market: manipulative would-be visionary Joe MacMillan, married hardware engineers Gordon and Donna Clark, punk programmer protege Cameron Howe, and John Bosworth, a lifelong salesman whose life is upended by exposure to Joe but redeemed by friendship with Cameron.

One’s a high-energy science-fantasy show about a brilliant, undying space wizard and his human companion; one is about broken people hurting each other while trying to create something worthwhile, be it an IBM clone, a video game company, or an early version of the internet. These two shows have no business even touching each other. But therein lies the game.

Your average episode of Halt and Catch Fire involves the team facing as many crises to their current project as can fit inside of an hour, while finding ways to hate each other. So we’ll give them a big ol’ doomsday crisis. While trying to design a new interface for her company, Mutiny, Cameron encounters a weird rash of setbacks. Viruses, hardware failures, sudden power outages, all of which are leaving the whole staff scrambling, especially Cameron, Donna, and Clara, their new hire from England. Cameron suspects interference by Joe MacMillan (because every goddamn thing that happens to you must be Joe’s fault, right, Cameron?) or a screw-up by Gordon (historically plausible), but despite both of them having meetings with the same Scottish venture capitalist, there’s no proof they’re involved. Cameron turns on Donna, Donna turns on Gordon, Cameron and Donna both turn on Joe who delivers a great if condescending speech about their need to blame him for every problem they have, but by the time Bosworth pieces together that Clara and that venture capitalist who kept calling himself “The Doctor” were responsible, they’ve both vanished, and Cameron has to ditch the entire program in order to keep the lights on at Mutiny. Everyone scrapes by, but learns new ways to be angry at each other, because that’s Halt and Catch Fire for you. It’s better than I’m describing it.

Meanwhile, on Doctor Who, the exact same story happens, but this time it’s a screwball comedy about The Doctor and Clara trying to prevent five kinda jerky people from developing a piece of code that will eventually become part of an unstoppable Cyberman OS. It’s all fun and games until Clara realizes they’re actively crushing Cameron’s dreams of reinventing computers and how we interact with them, leading to a powerful but heartbreaking rant from The Doctor about how one woman’s dream has to be measured against countless lives, and that in the end he can’t ever really prevent the Cybermen. The Cybermen are inevitable. All he can do is try to delay them, to reduce the damage they’ll do when they finally arrive. If forcing Cameron to compromise on her vision (something reality makes her do once a year, minimum) saves even one planet from the Cybermen… don’t they have to at least try? This is the burden of the Time Lords… to know the outcomes, and the price for achieving them.

Shit. I’d watch the hell out of that one.

Next time… a weird trend in the new TV season.