Sunday, February 14, 2010

Clueless in Hollywood

This is something that has been eating at me for a while, so I'll go ahead and rant about it. First off, a disclaimer. When I mention 'Hollywood' here, I'm using it as an abbreviation for the less than brilliant people there. Granted, there are some geniuses and good people there putting out good things.

Now that that's out of the way, here is something that confuses me. In the retail world, when you create a product, you want to make something as universally useful as possible so that it will appeal to more people. Or at least, the companies that care about quality do. It comes down to bottom line: the more sales, the more money you make. Why doesn't Hollywood get this principle?

I've been stewing about this since The Land of the Lost movie. When I heard about it, I got excited. I grew up watching the old Sid and Marty Kroft version and loved it. It had freakin' dinosaurs, for crying out loud! Every kid my age at the time loved anything about dinosaurs, even if they did look like sock puppets. So, here was my chance to share something from my childhood with my kids.

Not so fast. Then I saw the trailers. My excitement decreased. It was looking like it would be a raunchy, dirty movie. I still held out hope, though. Then, once it came out, I checked the Kids-In-Mind website, which told me that it was NOT a kid-friendly film, nor was it even adult friendly. Suffice it to say, I never saw it.

The week before, the SyFy channel had a marathon of the old TV shows. It was interesting to see that a lot of the episodes were written by the same people who wrote the original Star Trek shows. I think the first episode was even written by Walter Koenig (aka Chekov). Anyway, my younger kids loved the shows (the teenagers just rolled their eyes). This made me realize that Hollywood really blew it. They could have written a really dumb script for the movie and could have been reasonably successful if THEY HAD ONLY MADE IT FAMILY FRIENDLY. As it was, by making it a raunch-fest, the movie didn't pull in enough box office to cover the cost of making it. It cost 100 million, and it pulled in 64 million. Ouch.

Okay, so Hollywood made one mistake. Well, a couple of other movies pop to mind: The Brady Bunch Movie and The Beverly Hillbillies. I never saw them, but they were both rated PG-13, which in my mind translates as family-UNfriendly. They also both flopped. However, my kids love the old TV versions of those shows, and if the movies were cleaner, perhaps Hollywood would have received a good return on investment.

And then there's TV. Last season, they rolled out the new and improved version of Knight Rider. When my youngest son caught wind of that, he got very excited. A talking car? How cool is that to a young mind? Well, I watched the first episode and saw that it was NOT a kid show. Surprise of all surprises, the show did not survive long.

I think that is also what brought about the demise of Star Trek: Enterprise. At least with the other four series, I could watch them with my kids and not have to worry too much. Enterprise was not like that. Some of the episodes were okay, but I didn't know if they would be child-safe until after I watched them. I think this is one of the reasons why the show didn't get the ratings they wanted. At the same time, some of the episodes were very thought-provoking and well-written. They were just a little too violent and risque for a broader audience.

I don't even want to launch into the new Battlestar Galactica. I could rant about that for a long time.

Now, if Hollywood wants to make a gritty movie about warfare in the trenches with all it's inherent grit, fine. I don't have a problem with that, even though I don't want to see it. What really gripes me is when they take what was originally a good, clean idea and decide that it needs to be dirtier. To my knowledge, this formula has never worked. So why do they keep trying it? It seems to me, either they are really stupid or else they have an agenda, but that might be a topic for another time.

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