Sunday, August 31, 2014


I know we all have our ideas of what would make great TV shows. The thing is, most of mine are really good ideas. Case in point: why do we not have a TV show, something like a pulp style series from the thirties or forties, with tons of sex and violence, on a pay cable network? Doesn't this seem like a no-brainer?

In my review of Wally Wood's CANNON the other day, I said, "...maybe it's my reptilian brain at work overriding good taste, but I've always enjoyed a story about a rugged man who kills with impunity and beds women with regularity." I cited the Bond films as an example of this genre. Another would be the Cinemax series BANSHEE. BANSHEE is somewhat acclaimed, and apparently quite successful. And it overflows with hard, brutal violence and softcore sex scenes. These are things people like to watch. Look to GAME OF THRONES for another example. Or BLACK SAILS, which quickly became a personal favorite during it's first season this past winter. I'm sure there are plenty more, but I don't watch a ton of pay cable shows.

My question, then, is: Why don't we have a series like the above, catered to grown man-children who love superheroes but who are old enough to enjoy explicit material? (And I unashamedly include myself in this demographic!) I don't want to watch such a series about Batman or Spider-Man. They're all-ages characters, not meant for strong language and overt sexual situations. Putting them into these sorts of situations is wrong. But if an outright fantasy series like GAME OF THRONES can capture the imaginations of millions of mainstream viewers, why couldn't a Batman-esque series?

I therefore submit the following idea. It's derivative, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't make a great show under the guidance of the right producers: A pulp-style hourlong action-adventure series set in the thirties, following a character akin to the Shadow or the Spider, those creations who so strongly influenced Batman. The series would not be all that fantastical, save that our hero would wear a costume of some sort -- nothing fancier than a Green Hornet-esque longcoat and mask with hat, though. He would probably be a wealthy man-about-town by day, while fighting crime by night.

Like I said, derivative. But if you put it on HBO or Cinemax or Showtime or Starz, and fill it with bone-crunching violence and tons of sex and nudity, I think you'd have a recipe for success. I'd watch the heck out of it. Most of my friends would, too. Frankly, I'm amazed no one has green-lit something like this yet. Period pieces are hot (MAD MEN, BOARDWALK EMPIRE). Superheroes are hot (Marvel Films, the DARK KNIGHT trilogy). Explicit pay cable shows are hot (GAME OF THRONES, BLACK SAILS). Mash them all together, Hollywood, I dare you! I guarantee at least two seasons. There's no way, given the proper creative team and marketing support, this idea fails.

And then once the above catches on, we try something else. Why isn't there a Bond pistache along the same lines? Back in college, while watching one of the Pierce Brosnan films, a friend asked why they don't throw some explicit sex scenes and violence into the Bond films and rate them R? I suggested that if they had done that, we probably wouldn't have encountered those movies as kids to become fans. But my friend had a point. Why hasn't someone come up with a more "adult" (meaning, of course, juvenile) take on a super-spy character replete with sex and extreme violence? This again seems like a job for pay cable.

Maybe I come across as a maladjusted pervert here; I don't know. That's for others to decide. In person, I'm a somewhat socially awkward, but happily married and mild-mannered person. But at the same time I know that graphic premium cable shows are the big thing right now, and there's a reason for that. The people want them. I've said before that everything is enhanced by gratuitous nudity, if it's appropriate to the material. I stand by that statement. As for the violence -- well, sometimes it's too much for me. I frequently wince and occasionally avert my eyes while watching BANSHEE and GAME OF THRONES. But that doesn't mean other people won't appreciate it. These aren't "lowest common denominator" shows. They're well-written, lavishly produced, and often thought-provoking. They just happen to be enhanced by envelope-pushing sex and violence. And I know there's room for a pulpy superhero series and/or a globe-trotting spy series among their ranks.

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