You’re Not Making A Sequel To That, Are You?

Word around the campfire is that Netflix, home of some excellent original shows like Orange Is the New Black* and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is planning to give us the sequel to Full House. (from New York Magazine):

Everywhere you look, there’s an old show (or movie!) being made anew. TV Line reports that Netflix is very close to picking up Fuller House, the cheekily named sequel series to everyone’s favorite single-dad sitcom, Full House. “How rude!” you might already thinking – either because that’s one of the show’s popular catchphrases, or because you’re not into the idea of a reboot. Well, cut it out (Ha-ha, sorry): Fuller House would center around grown-up D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) and her BFF Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), who will no doubt be visited by Bob Saget, David Coulier, and John Stamos (the latter is also producing).

I confess I’m surprised at this one. Full House is a show whose earworm theme song I remember mostly because it was a signal that the TV I was leaving on for noise needed to have its channel changed. (And because it provided me with a joke to tell while doing it: “What ever happened to predictability? ABC scheduled it for Fridays, 8pm Pacific.”) But I confess that the reason I’m amazed that Netflix thinks there’s still an audience for this boring artifact of the TGIF lineup is that I was always amazed there was an audience for it. Full House was so relentlessly wholesome and cutseypoo that a single minute’s exposure to it could send Garrison Keillor into a seven hour rage storm of a tirade whose every third word would be “motherfucker”. (We should try it, just to liven up “The Writer’s Almanac”.) I guess there’s a market for that sort of material among people who find nonfat milk too spicy.

But let’s live and let live, I guess. Nobody’s making me watch Fuller House. (At least, not unless Scott Walker becomes President.) But it does make me think about the crying we all do–and I’ve done plenty–when the studios decide to reboot an old movie or TV show. We cry “Why don’t they make something original?” And as a purveyor of original material who has resolved, to my publisher’s likely dismay, never to write a sequel or prequel to his own work, I know the frustration of trying to bring something new into a marketplace saturated with repeats.

That said, reboots, remakes, and sequels aren’t all bad. Even at their worst, they’re not hurting anything. If we loved the original, it’s not like anyone’s taking it away. (Sure, J.J. Abrams made the Star Wars expanded universe non-canon, but fuck him. He can keep Star Wars in his way; I’ll keep it in mine.) If we didn’t like the original and are wondering why anyone would want to remake that, we should remember that though 90% of the remakes of shitty material remain shitty, the other 10% has given us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman Begins, and the remade Battlestar Galactica. If someone can take material that wasn’t well handled and turn into something worthwhile, that is an original and creative act. May I suggest that someone with vision and the rights take a shot at Buck Rogers In the 25th Century? Buck Rogers’s predicament as a man out of time is a great dramatic situation for the right writer to explore. Just saying.

Our culture is, whatever else it is, a giant junk pile, and we’re all rummaging through it for parts. We struggle to put them together in new and exciting ways. We fail much more often than we succeed. That’s true of those of us who insist on assembling our work from the smallest pieces we can find, and those of us who prefer (for whatever reason) to tinker with already built contraptions. Is it sad sometimes that the tinkerers have a marketing advantage when it comes time to present their work to audiences? Maybe, but it was ever thus. Just ask the King of the reboot: William Shakespeare.

*Yes, I’m aware OITNB is an adaptation of Piper Kerman’s memoir, but as Kerman has said, the makers of the show changed a lot, possibly enough for us to consider the show as its own text.

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