UPDATING A LEGACY
It’s already happened in movies. I haven’t read it in books yet, with one glaring exception that I’ll discuss later. Updating a legacy, a popular series. I know it’s been done in books, just not by any authors I’m personally interested in.
I’ll start with TV examples I’ve seen. The results are not always pretty. Though some of you might disagree with me, I never liked the updated Twilight Zone remakes. They were popular for quite a while and were remade not once, but twice. Hey folks, once was enough. They did it right the first time, but to keep bringing it back while adding nothing new, fixing something that wasn’t broke didn’t help.
Another example was The Outer Limits. Now that one was a big favorite. I personally loved the “monster of the week” concept. The new series, filmed in Canada, wanted to break away from that and get all fancy and intellectual with extended story lines. They lasted a lot longer than the original, but at the same time, completely lost the charm and fun of the classic episodes. Those remakes turned into a different animal.
I won’t name the bad series simply because I didn’t watch them. On the other hand, I’ll talk about the two biggies that I’ve been faithful to… well mostly, from the beginning. Star Trek and Star Wars. One started as a TV series while the other was just movies.
Now Star Trek started as an original TV series then evolved into first, the movies then several TV offshoots. Though each TV offshoot had their good and bad points, I treated each as completely different shows with the Star Trek name as merely a starting off point and in no way a remake. My favorite was the Captain Picard version.
As for the Star Trek movies, they started sort of okay but by far, the best of the bunch was number four, the “save the whales” one. Before and after, they kind of drifted to me. After that, the actors got too old, Bones died and then Scotty (in real life). Then along came JJ Abrams. I dreaded what this new reboot might be like. However, I was not only shocked, but pleasantly surprised at the outcome. The reboot not only kept the tradition and spirit of the original, but it was just a plain good movie.
As for Star Wars, I just saw The Force Awakens. The first three movies were pretty good, but especially the first one which was killer. After that, those other three, four five and six were so awful, I can hardly talk about them. What’s so bad is that the creator, George Lucas made them himself. When JJ Abrams took over, I had to wonder what he’d do with the franchise. Turns out he went old school and back to number one again. He kept with the spirit of the original and did such a great job, what modernization he might have done blended seamlessly with the legacy. Now that’s the way to update a legacy!
I don’t know of any book legacies that have been done right, probably because of the subject matter or genre which didn’t interest me. I do know of one that was done horribly wrong. The Hardy Boys. Though I’ll admit the original series, written in the 1930’s was not only arcane, but contained some heavy political incorrectness. However, the way the present owners of the publishing rights slaughtered the books by ahem…updating them and politically correcting them and modernizing them in the new adventures. Well, I hate to say it, they cut the nuts right out of them and ruined a good thing. I know my memory isn’t that bad. The last time I read a Hardy Boys book was during one of my fantasy periods in the early 1970’s in Spain when I was a single airman living in the barracks. I had a penchant for nostalgia, besides the fact that the bookstore didn’t have anything else I wanted to read. So, I went through the old Hardy Boys collection. That was forty plus years ago. I picked up a recent Hardy Boys book in Barnes & Noble and was horrified at what I read. ‘Nuff said.
I’ve heard of other authors taking up where an original left off. How did they do? Do you know of any? If I’ve read any of those stories, I can’t remember right now. I’d like to hear from you.
Legacies are important. Reboots, rewrites, revamps are fine but I think it’s vital to keep the spirit of the original. I think JJ Abrams is one person who gets that idea. I don’t know of any authors that do.