Friday, March 19, 2010

Kolchak: The Night Stalker


In 1533 Poland, freedom of the press is a brand-new concept, and Italian immigrant Antonio Vincenzo means to make the most of it. He starts a news sheet advertising “The real stories”, and his star reporter is a crotchety little man named Karel Kolchack.

Kolchack, in his beat-up hat and light blue jerkin, doesn’t seem like the type to get a big scoop. He’s absentminded, clumsy, and has a habit of irritating important people. But he’s perceptive, and he knows there’s more going on in Krakow than meets the eye. While the rest of the world is modernizing, the old ways are not forgotten, and there’s vampires, golems, and demons about, to say nothing of spoilers, Fire Flowers, and the Magic Belt. Kolchack travels to villages all over central Europe seeking out the bizarre and unexplainable, and getting the stories out where they can be seen… by those who believe them.

The advantages to this time period and setting are several. Freedom of the press was a completely new concept at this time, and with Kolchak’s fondness for annoying those in power, it could be interesting to see him fighting a government trying to keep things like this under wraps. Also, in contrast to the modern series, where Kolchak lived in our modern, skeptical age, our Kolchack would be living where people might actually believe him. And in addition to having the rich folkloric tradition of central Europe to pull from, some distinctive elements of Polish myth can go in, too. Fire Flowers, for instance, which grant all sorts of supernatural power to the holder. The only loss would be that it would be really tricky to get in any non-European mythology, which the original series had. Remember the episode with the Rakshasa? That was so cool.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Gilligan's Island


The tale begins in the Atlantic Ocean, as an English ship, the HMS Minnow, sails for the Caribbean islands. The ship was commissioned by Governor Thurston Howell III, eager to transport himself and his wife to their newly-appointed home on a Jamaican sugar plantation, where they intend to live a life of luxury. Also on this voyage are a scientist hoping to study the exotic wildlife of the island, an actress visiting the Howells before continuing to New York to star on Broadway, and a young woman hoping to find adventure. The ship's crew is headed by Jonas Grumby, a former Captain of the British Navy, and his first mate is the inept nephew of Admiral Gilligan. When nearing the islands, the weather starts getting rough and the tiny ship is tossed. All the crew and the Howell’s servants are killed. The ship washes up on a tiny, seemingly deserted island, and the survivors must find a way to survive. Hilarity ensues.

Okay, I know the last two words of that paragraph seem a bit at odds with the rest of it, but it’s kind of hard to describe the basic plot of the show without sounding serious. You know, like Hogan’s Heroes. And I’m sorry I had to kill so many people, but at least I explain why the Howells have all their stuff with them. Anyway, the advantages to this time period would be the comedy offered by the rigid class system, the casual racism of Mr. Howell, and the blatantly wrong science of Doctor Hanley (The Professor). The Harlem Globetrotters will also make an appearance, portrayed just the same way they were in the ‘70s. Or possibly as they were portrayed on Futurama. Either way, this will not be explained.

I have hidden an incredibly obscure 1980s TV reference in this article. First one to post it in the comments gets a cookie.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Three's Company

The year is 1912, and it's time for a summer garden party at the estate of Lord and Lady Roper. Guests are coming in from all over England, and all the talk is about Lord Roper's dashing young nephew, John Tripper. The irrepressible raconteur delights all the ladies not only with his surprising skill in the kitchen, but also with his tales of his daring life. Soldier of fortune, gentleman thief... Is he telling the truth, or merely a master liar? Matters are desperately complicated for John when Lord Roper discovers him in the chambermaid's bedroom, and, thinking fast, John claims that he is, in fact, a homosexual. Not wishing to be scandalized, Lord Roper agrees to keep the matter silent, and John thinks he's gotten away with it. But when his parents disinherit him, he is left with no other home but the Roper estate, and for once he must live with one of his lies. Soon, misunderstanding piles upon misinterpretation as John must keep track of all the many and varied lies he's told... and to whom! Drawn into this are Lord Roper's daughters, the brainy Jeanette and the not-so-brainy Christine, enlisted by John to help in his escapades; and the estate's gardener, Furleigh, enlisted by Lord Roper to uncover the truth.

The advantages to this time period are clear. The importance of politeness and propriety make the bawdy misinterpretations of innocent events and the wacky explanations of bawdy events funnier by a factor of about a thousand. Also, the setting allows for such a broad range of personalities - a cockney chef, a Great White Hunter, Agatha Christie, Bertie Wooster... the possibilities are endless. Making almost everyone relatives was for the convenience of the plot, but I think it can add to the humor. For further reference on this type of plot in this time, see The Importance of Being Earnest, the non-depressing parts of Atonement, and the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp", only on that last one you have to add in sex jokes and take out the giant murderous alien insect.