Mr. Bryce Zabel seems to be in a publishing state of mind this month, as he has released the pilot script for Dark Skies, as well as another script from later in the season. It's a very funny feeling when you sit down to read somebody else's script, and not just any script, but a pilot that got green lit, and you feel like you're in familiar territory. Not the feeling like you've read this before, but like you've been in Mexico for a week trying to survive on your highschool Spanish lessons, and you've just run across a newspaper in English. This is your language, you get this.
That's the feeling I got when I read the first few pages of this script. I speak this language and for the first time, I felt like this could have been something I wrote. I stare at my own stuff for hours at a time, and the visual format kind of burns into the back of you mind. When you see that format again, and it's not yours, well I've always felt like it's foreign, because I know how much better what I'm looking at is. Not anymore. Though this script is undoubtedly better than my own work, it doesn't feel that way just because it's not mine. It may not sound like it, but that helps mentally. It really does. You can dig into those scripts right here.
A few things going on in the writing blogs I read; Jane Espenson is reminding us all to go watch bad television, because as is often true, you learn more about watching bad TV than you do the good. Alex Epstein finished posting his incredibly insightful interview with Tom Fontana (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). The writer/director of Abominable, a SciFi channel original (B-horror) did an interview with UGO that's a great read about making movies on small budgets; it's also a pretty entertaining movie.
I dropped the JMS/Zabel treatment release info in rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, given the number of B5/JMS fans in that group, and ended up saying things that are more true to my feelings on that treatment and why I thought re-imagining worked so well for Battlestar Galactica, more so than I did within my post here on the subject.
“caddickj wrote: > I was one of the ones who hated the idea of re-imagining Battlestar > Galactica, and I now think it's one of the best shows on TV, so I'm not > going to dismiss a "reimagining" idea so quickly.
I'd tend to agree, yet I have to think that the two decades worth of rest between the two shows had as much to do with the latter's success as Ron Moore's incredible talent, and the viability of "re-imagining" did.
Science Fiction now isn't what it was when BSG originally aired, and BSG as it is now isn't just the old BSG wearing a new coat -- it's a whole different guy underneath that same old coat, and it took 24 years worth of change in the world to get to where that kind of change could happen. I really don't think you can re-imagine something without having basically an entirely new audience that can enjoy and appreciate it as something new, and not something rehashed.
It's easier if you think of moving shows in the opposite direction. Would the X-Files or Millenium or the BSG of today have worked 25 years ago? Probably not. You'd probably have to tone them done a lot, soften them up, take off that dramatic edge and chill with the complex subplots. In other words: re-imagine them. Time and changes in people are responsible for that; they are what allow us to do these cool new things today, so why not believe the same to be true with old shows rehashed? Change is important to acceptance.
For the record, I'm not of the opinion that Trek needs any of this. It fell behind the curve when B5 came out, but it's not terminally out of date. B5 made complex multi-season subplots work. It reminded us that good Science Fiction is still about people, not things. BSG is all about the people, too. Stargate kind of hugs the middle line between the old Trek and the new SciFi, and so it's gappy, yet still great in its own right.
I really do believe in what JMS said here some time ago, that all Trek really needs is for Paramount to let it's people out of the box, and the rest will follow naturally.”