Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Paramount makes a splash

Well, it seems like the folks in Hollywood have managed to successfully scratch their way through the barrel's base, and are now tunneling towards the earth's core.

Turning beloved TV shows into disposable, memory-violating monstrosities has long been a viable course of action for any studio bereft of ideas. But now it seems they've run out of worthy properties and have turned their attention to any old garbage with name recognition. This summer, Will Ferrell came a cropper with a big budget adaptation of Land of the Lost, a show remembered only by stoners (and let's face it, how good can their memory really be?). Now, possibly the worst show ever broadcast is being mooted for the 'reimagining' treatment. That's right, Baywatch is heading for a big screen near you.

As well as running for an astonishing 12 years and spawning an equally awful spin-off (Baywatch Nights), the show achieved its place in pop culture legend as the most watched TV show in the world. At its peak in 1996, it was being watched by more than 1.1 billion people in 148 countries, most of them with the curtains drawn I imagine.

Unashamedly milking (steady now) its premise for all it was worth, Baywatch used slow-motion to such an extent that an entire season played at regular speed would probably only run for about an hour and a half. And yet viewers tuned in religiously every week to see their favourite characters, the hot one, the short-haired one, the brunette one and the black one run up and down the beaches of Malibu carrying a giant plastic lozenge.

The show's creative team, a genuine case of the infinite monkey theorem if ever there was one, occasionally attempted to add plots to its already overflowing D-cup. We had smugglers, street gangs, pollution and even skin cancer, and yet all anyone really remembers is the two manadatory musical montages that cropped up in every one of the 241 broadcast episodes. Well, that and the awesome 'Current of Love', by Germany's favourite soft-rocker David Hasselhoff, which became the show's iconic theme song.

The writer selected for the project is Jeremy Garelick, who scripted Jennifer Aniston's The Break Up, and its said that he plans to turn it into a comedy. Unfortunately, he also claims never to have seen the show, which explains why he mistakenly believes that his approach will be a welcome change.

Because Baywatch was always fully aware of how ridiculous it was. After a po-faced first season which almost got it cancelled, the budgets were slashed, the proper actors were sacked, and a bunch of comically inflated playmates were cast in their place. Selected for their ability to fill a red swimsuit and read off cue-cards, they weren't expected to act or emote, just stand, run and swim. In that order. And the viewers lapped it up, laughing along with the show's preposterous attempts at drama.

This could all end up like Scary Movie - an embarassing spoof of something that was a tongue-in-cheek joke in the first place. But as long as the actresses are cast for their ability to inhabit a swimsuit rather than a character, I'm sure it'll be a resounding success. As for the T.J. Hooker movie, don't get me started...

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