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The Modern Western Discussion (was "sci-fi western discussion")

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--- Quote ---Ron Moore, the man most responsible for the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, is in a reimagining mood—and is reportedly in the early stages of developing a new take on the '60s western adventure The Wild, Wild West.
--- End quote ---

I loved WIld, Wild West when I was a kid (though it's unwatchable now -- especially after Brisco County stole its thunder).

A reimagining could be fun.  You have the sci-fi/fantasy thing going on (though not as over the top and horrible as the Will Smith movie).  Giving it a gritter, Deadwood flavor would be a wonderful way to go... Here's this super secret government agent operating above the law in the wild west. Give it just a slight turn of gritty realism and you can go down an interesting road (as opposed to the comic path that the movie took).

(Lost in the movie is that West's Moriarty was a maniac dwarf. would RDM handle that?)

I'm putting on my producer/money man hat here.

Wasn't Firefly a sort of post-modern take on Wild, Wild West? They're certainly apples and oranges in many respects, but at their cores, both shows are sci-fi westerns.

I'm wondering if the audience is there for this? Firefly was nothing but quality, yet couldn't find it's audience. I wonder if even with all the sci-fi trappings, the western is still a viable genre anymore.

The flipside is that adding sci-fi elements seems a great way to keep the western relevant.

Again, though... Firefly was exceptional and barely lasted a season. (I again mention the problem of sci-fi production being cost prohibitive in the long run.)

You could argue both ways.  The sci-fi in Wild Wild West was the same as in The Avengers. It's more fantasy than sci-fi, and is hardly a major point of any story, and isn't universal to the series. Most episodes are straight up spy vs. spy stuff.  Ultimately, Wild Wild West is James Bond-inspired with some almost comic-book level supervillains.

The overt sci-fi in the movie is nothing like the show.  Same with Brisco County.

Certainly with those examples, and Firefly, I wouldn't call Wild Wild West a sci-fi western.

However... You could say that Wild Wild West is the grandfather of the sci-fi western.  It paved the way for the genre, but perhaps only in hindsight (and unintentionally).

Firefly suffered from outside influences, no? If it had been given a proper run, in the correct order, I bet it would have survived the first year.

Two unrelated points before I continue:

1.) I fixed all the typos in my previous post, but I want to note that what I meant to say is "Firefly was nothing BUT quality."

2.) I just added Westworld to the top of my Netflix queue because this conversation brought it to mind. Also, I've never seen it and have been meaning to watch it for the past fifteen years. (And not to totally derail this thread, but I have the Cat People remake sitting on my DVD player as we speak. Do we have a thread or should I just post about it in the Inglourious Basterds thread?)

Carrying on . . .

I'm not sure why Firefly failed. Whedon claims the studio sabotaged it (and Dollhouse too) by giving is shitty time slots and not advertising properly. (Firefly was given the Friday night slot which pretty much kills your teenage demographic.) My understanding is that due to Buffy's success, Whedon had a great deal of creative freedom, but he pissed off the head of Fox Studios at the time (Rothman?) who got payback by all but burying Firefly. Whedon's got a reputation for being a bitch to work with.

I love the idea of a great sic-fi/fantasy western, but this seems to me a competitive response to the development of 'The Dark Tower' as a TV series. (I'd be interested in knowing if any company besides Moore's is involved in the 'Wild Wild West' reboot.)

My main point is that Westerns seem to be one of those genres that may for all intents and purposes die out. The romance with the old west isn't what it once was.  I think westerns were popular in the 40s and 50s because they were cheap to shoot. ("Let's just get some costumes and drive out to Death Valley for the day.") Now they're becoming almost an anachronism. The best comparison I can make is Vietnam movies. There was a slew of them for awhile, but now there are very few being made. Generally, people don't care anymore.

I think the idea of making "the final frontier' a western based one is awesome, but I seem to be in the minority. It's a hard sell.

(2) OMG -- you've never seen Westworld?  And, of course, the ULTIMATE sci-fi western!  Accept no substitutes.

As for Cat People:  Wow... Is that worth a thread?  Watch it and decide.  I'd keep it separate since nobody appreciates the references in Inglorious Basterds, and they're muddled with The Crow, anyway.

Also remember that Firefly was aired out of order.  So what thin story-arc was there didn't make sense, nor did the carefully crafted character development.

That's what I think killed it, in combination with the time slot/advertising.

The western itself has faded, yes.  Though the themes are the same.  The "journeyman" sci-fi format -- still alive and well, thanks to BSG -- is something westerns created.  (And look at Caprica as the rancher format -- Bonanza, etc.) Sci-fi has aped westerns into the modern day (get ready for that feel with our small town cop hero in Walking Dead).

But as far as the western genre itself dying out...  I think there's still room for a last gasp.  Deadwood, as one example. Though to do it right in the modern day, you do need to combine it with something.  The sci-fi western, the Shakespearean western...

Vietnam movies are a different ball of wax.  Those represent a nation trying to heal.  Notice how claims that the 91 Gulf War (something often said by media, Bush, and others) undid the wounds of Vietnam.  There were lots of claims that the "victory" in 91 reversed our fortunes, etc.  You then see a decline in Vietnam movies.

More obviously, we've been fighting what is soon going to become a generational war since 1991. Our war movies are now focused on that war.  

American war movies, generally, have followed a pattern.  During WWII, you get propaganda movies (Shores of Tripoli, Bataan, Destination Tokyo, etc. etc).  After WWII, you get movies that focus more on personal issues (as far as the 50's and 60's could get away with) such as Attack, Iron Cross, The Caine Mutiny, Young Lions, etc.).

By the 70's, in an attempt to avoid Vietnam, WW2 films sort of reach the end of their thread. We're reduced to comedy and/or action.  Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare, Kelly's Heroes, etc.

Vietnam films were being pitched in the 60's and Hollywood, famously, refused to make them and shut every project down. Until... The later 70's.  They just couldn't hold back the tide.  The healing process begins with Deer Hunter, Taxi Driver, Coming Home, Apocalypse Now... All with a self-defensive fantastical element.  The 80's sees the boom of "authentic" Vietnam movies -- Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, etc.

The Vietnam movie era dwindles in the early 90's (Heaven on Earth the last truly passable film, 1992).  We get a brief resurgence of Spielberg history, and then we shift into our current war -- which is where we stand today. That, also, has seen movement from propaganda to defensive fantasy to social commentary.


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