Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rockford Reboot?

The revival madness continues...

It was reported in yesterday's Variety that "House" creator-exec producer David Shore has been hired to shepherd a redo of the classic 1974-80 detective drama TV series that starred James Garner.

"It's one of the shows that made me want to become a writer," Shore said. "I had no interest in adapting any old stuff, but this was the one exception."

Shore's just starting to think about an approach to bring "The Rockford Files" into the present day, but he intends to stick with the basic foundation of a private eye in L.A. just trying to make a living.

"What makes 'Rockford' timeless is that he's vulnerable, he's flawed. He's used to hustling and getting hustled," Shore said. "Sometimes he's a hero and sometimes he runs away."

Yeah yeah was a great show and well written, but for most part the plots/cases were 'open mysteries', and it was leisurely paced, and it had at least one 'driving around' sequence and one car chase sequence (both also somewhat leisurely paced) slotted into every episode {let's face it...Jimbo's 'Firebird' was an important a sidekick as the characters of Angel, Rocky, and Becker}, and next to none of these story-telling devices are prevalent anywhere on television today. Not to mention they didn't have cell phones or computers or the Internet then, and you'd have to integrate those elements now which completely changes the nature of the original Rockfords' detective what are you gonna be 'redoing' exactly?

I suppose you are redoing the character, because the bottom line is, on paper, The Rockford Files concept wasn't that special. It was a light-ish detective/mystery drama starring an ex-con non-confrontational cynic with a heart of gold type character. Kinda like today's Life or Burn Notice. But it was Garner's chops and charm and his chemistry with an interesting array of secondary characters, plus a killer theme song/title sequence, that made it special.

So it will come down to casting (perhaps Bones David Boreanaz will be ready for a change?)...but still, I just don't get it.

And this is no slag on Shore...good guy, talented writer, wish him the best of luck...but why can't it just be announced that Shore is working on a new light detective drama in the vein of Rockford Files? But today, the pre-sold 'brand' seems to trump all, even though the brand of Rockford means next to nothing to the kids today, and means everything in an 'all-time fav show that I don't want you to ruin way' to old folks like me.

I admit it...I have a problem with all the remakes, redo's, reboots tripping over each other these days to get out of Hollywood. I know they're an easier sell, but since most don't click with audiences when they arrive, I really don't see the point. Not to mention we're training a new generation of writers and viewers that nothing original is worth writing/watching/ has to have been made before.

And I think that's sad (although Weinman may now be able to sell his quick and spiffy and slick updated version of the Rockford Files opening:

A Rockford Files redo. Agree? Disagree? Care? At the tone leave your name and number and I'll get back to you.

UPDATE: turns out Jaime Weinman had already written this post on his blog a few hours before me...oh well, at least we kinda sorta seem to agree, though I'll always be a poor man's Angel Martin to his Jimmy.


Good Dog said...

You've exactly articled my concerns when I read the story in Variety. What really made the show special was James Garner's easy charm rather than the case each week. I can't think of anyone who could take his place.

My first thought was, since he’ll now have a mobile phone for clients to contact him in an update we won’t get the great answerphone messages at the beginning of each episode.

Good Dog said...

(Or even "articulated").

deverowe said...

Most of your objections to redoing THE ROCKFORD FILES are right on the mark, but the biggest thing the reboot won't have is James Garner and that face of his and the eight things it can do per second. Some people are irreplaceable.

Corey said...

Add to the reboot list: Hawaii 5-0 and Streets of San Fransisco.

Hopefully this trend will end soon.

Diane Kristine said...

The only reason my little brain can think of is that there's extra publicity built in to a remake. No one would care as much about yet another teen soap if it weren't for the 90210 nostalgia, or yet another adult soap if not for the Melrose Place nostalgia, so it's a way to cut through the media clutter and get your instant recognition. Is it possible there's a monetary reason too? Like, is it cheaper to redo something they have the rights to than to create something new? That doesn't seem to make sense though.

purpletrex said...

Internet and cell phones, and 9/11 have ruined such shows as the Rockford Files from really ever existing unless the show is set in the 70's or the 80's.

Today Rockford would not be able to sneak into buildings because of the advanced security systems.

He wouldn't be able to con that cute secretary because she'd be googling him instantly after he passed her his fake business card.

Rockford routinely snuck into government buildings, something impossible today unless you are a spy. (okay, government security ain't that great, but it's tougher today than in 1974)

Sure, detective work does involve a lot of pounding the pavement and beating the bushes, but would the writers have Rockford ignore such technological advances as an iPhone as stuff for "amateurs?"

Besides, Rockford Files IS Burn Notice (and The A-Team) mixed together. The best guy to play Jim Rockford today would be Bruce Campbell. Too bad he's already playing Jim Rockford on Burn notice. :)