Do you remember Clash of the Titans, a delightful 1980s film loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus and Andromeda? It starred Harry Hamlin and Lawrence Olivier among others, but is best known as the last movie to feature the stop-motion talents of Ray Harryhausen.
A lot of people are very fond of it, but few people are so fond of it that they'd remake it. Which is what Warner Bros, writers Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and director Louis Leterrier have done.
The question is: is it as good or is it better than the original? And does 3D make it a better movie than it would have been? Here's the trailer:
As weird old trends go, circa 1982, there was a big one on US TV: it was "We wish had a TV programme like Raiders of the Lost Ark". So just before everything went techno with Street Hawk, Knight Rider, Airwolf et al, everything went 1930s. Odd, huh? As a result of this trend, as well as Tales of the Gold Monkey, US networks tried to cash in on Raiders with Bring 'Em Back Alive.
Loosely based on the legendary wild animal collector Frank Buck, Bring 'Em Back Alive saw big game hunter Frank Buck fighting dastardly Eastern spies in pre-war Malaya from out of the Raffles Hotel bar in Singapore, while dressed impeccably - or in a pith helmet and shorts - depending on the situation.
The show featured rising star Bruce Boxleitner, who went on to Scarecrow and Mrs King and Babylon 5 fame, and Cindy Morgan, who played Gloria, the US consul. Despite their almost romantic relationship, Gloria gets Buck to go on all his spying missions, where he typically comes across a damsel in distress who needs saving - in the first episode, that would be Gloria:
Hey trivia fans: Morgan and Boxleitner both appeared together in Tron the previous year:
And were reunited this year for the Tron: Legacyviral event:
As well as Boxleitner and Morgan, the show starred Clyde Kusatsu as Ali, Buck's friend and No. 1 Boy (huh?); Ron O'Neal as HH, His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Johore, who was Buck's competitor in the world of adventure; Sean McClory as Myles Delaney, manager of the Raffles Hotel; and John Zee as GB Von Turgo, smuggler and kingpin of the Singapore underworld. That's all in the titles, so you know who's who.
The plots were varied, but typically saw our Buck out and about in the East, moustache groomed nicely, braving wild animals and dastardly foreigners to preserve US interests overseas. I say "the East" but it was mostly shot on the back-lot of Columbia Picture Television's Burbank Studios, with the Raffles Hotel built on the studio's 'New York Street'. Scenes that required an actual jungle as background were filmed in Hawaii and the Los Angeles Arboretum. Overall, it was as much like Singapore as Casablanca was like Casablanca, however.
With 'Frank Buck' based on a real person, the producers did go to some length to recreate certain aspects of Buck's life. Buck's compound was recreated from original photographs of his Katong headquarters and featured pictures of his parents hanging on the wall, as well as the flag of his home state, Texas.
It was diverting and fun stuff - not too taxing, but with a certain charm, although it didn't quite manage to capture the charm of Raiders, so only lasted 18 episodes. But it lives on in memories if not DVD box sets unfortunately.
Here's the weird old title sequence. You don't get a whole load of salutes to camera and character descriptions in the titles, these days, do you?
LES MOONVES: Damn it! I need a producer in here, stat!
Enter JERRY BRUCKHEIMER
BRUCKHEIMER: What is it, sir?
LES MOONVES: Thank God you're here, Bruckheimer. CBS has no medical shows
There's a stunned pause
BRUCKHEIMER: No medical shows?
LES MOONVES: That's right. No medical shows. We just don't have any. I need you to make me one - now!
BRUCKHEIMER: But, sir, you can't rush something as important as this!
LES MOONVES: Don't give me that, Bruckheimer. It's an emergency! Right now, you're making CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: New York for me, and The Forgotten for ABC. No way you didn't rush half of those out. So give me your pitch - now!
BRUCKHEIMER gives himself a shakedown and begins to pitch
BRUCKHEIMER: So it's like ER, in a trauma hospital.
LES MOONVES (warning): Expensive. Contract renegotiation is always a bitch on ensemble shows.
BRUCKHEIMER: Small cast! It'll be shot in… Miami, so we can have lots of shots of women in bikinis. It'll be stupid, like CSI: Miami, but life-affirming like The Forgotten.
LES MOONVES: Dialogue?
LES MOONVES: Plots?
BRUCKHEIMER: Tortured and over-elaborate.
LES MOONVES: Characters?
BRUCKHEIMER: Thin and poorly sketched. Noble, but comedic black orderly. Fiery ambitious Latina. Brilliant but cocky young doctor. Young doctor with a heart. That kind of thing. But there'll be plenty of blood, explosions, that kind of thing to keep the prurient interested.
LES MOONVES: We need something else.
LES MOONVES: A Brit. Like with House.
BRUCKHEIMER: How about that guy who played Sir Thomas More on The Tudors?
LES MOONVES: Jeremy Northam? Excellent!
BRUCKHEIMER: But, sir, I don't think it's going to work. Look what happened to Three Rivers. It'll be just the same as Trauma on NBC but less exciting and less well written and that's ratings poison!
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.