We had some great news about the LOCKE & KEY pilot the other day. No, we haven’t been picked up – that wouldn’t be great news, that would be mind-meltingly awesome news, a completely different category. But we have received permission from 20th Century Fox to show the pilot at NYCC this October, which was tremendously kind of them, and gives folks on the East Coast a chance to see what everyone at San Diego Comic Con was talkin’ ’bout. IDW CEO Ted Adams will be there to host the screening. At the moment I’m not planning to attend, but that could change if I’m able to finish the third draft of the novel by then.
Of course I’ve spent a lot of time fantasizing about ways to get LOCKE & KEY on TV. Apparently I’m not the only one – here’s a great piece by Huffington Post Blogger Kris LoPresto, which imagines a kind of PILOT SEASON SURVIVOR, that would give passed-over pilots a chance to make it on the air. Check it out when you have a chance; it’s a fun, quick read.
It goes without saying I’m sorry we won’t all be sitting down to watch LOCKE & KEY this fall. It would’ve been great. What will I be turning on instead?
Anyone who follows me on Twitter already knows about my obsession with a certain madman who lives in a big blue box:
For newbies, Doctor Who is supposedly a science fiction story about a time-and-space crossing hero who frequently befriends humans and takes them on bizarro adventures, into the past, the future, and the unknown. I say “supposedly,” because really Doctor Who is a series of tragic horror stories, where nothing is scarier than the Doctor falling in love with you. The series, of course, is old enough to be a grandfather (it does, in fact, have several grandchildren, most notably Torchwood), but early on in this century it was rebooted, and has been the smartest, edgiest, funniest, and most charming science fiction show on TV ever since. It’s also one of the very best written – I would argue that Neil Gaiman’s episode from last season is one of the finest single hours of any SF show in history. Where to start? Completists should go back to Season One, when the Doctor was played by Christopher Eccleston, but those who want to leap right into the action will be just fine starting with Season Five.
My parents tried and tried to get me interested in Elmore Leonard when I was a kid, but their enthusiasm failed to infect me. His stories were so sparse, so lean, so not-there, I couldn’t get emotionally wrapped up in them. It was just people talking, for fuck’s sake!
Not long after I turned thirty, though, someone gifted me an audio copy of Elmore Leonard’s THE HOT KID, read by Arliss Howard, and all at once I got it. All that talk… it isn’t just talk. Sometimes it’s foreplay. Sometimes it’s the foreplay to brutality. It’s the literary equivalent of hothouse jazz; give it a try and you will dance. In my case, it just took me a while to hear the music, but I’ve been wallowing in Leonard ever since. A casual glance at my book diary shows that something like one out of every fourteen books I read has BY ELMORE LEONARD on the cover.
I don’t know if anyone in film or TV has ever captured the hot-and-dirty rhythms of Elmore Leonard’s fiction better than the makers of JUSTIFIED. Certainly no cop show on TV has a clearer, sharper, more unique sense of self. Timothy Olyphant stars as US Marshall Raylan Givens, a man who is hard to rattle and who looks good in a hat. It’s a performance loaded with wit, style, and confidence. He also sells the action; Olyphant’s Stetson is made out Chuck Norris’s skin.
As much as I love Justified and Doctor Who, there is better still:
The Hour (which, like Doctor Who, can be found on BBC America) is the best drama to hit your cable box since The Sopranos premiered on HBO, over a decade ago. No, I do not think that is any way an exaggeration.
For me, the best TV is fundamentally novelistic: the episodes become chapters, and there is a chance to explore character in a way that is impossible in the time constraints of an hour-and-forty minute film. With that in mind, The Hour has the feel of the very best Ian McEwan novels (think Atonement). It’s the story of a Sixty-Minutes-like BBC news show in the late 50s… no, no, don’t put your head on your desk and take a nap. YOU WILL NOT BE BORED. This thing is loaded with secrets, conspiracies, and the hottest sex you can get away with on basic cable, which turns out to be very hot indeed. It’s also about the complexities of love and friendship, and is more honest about these things than a whole season of Friends. And it’s about the way everyone is caught up in history, and how you have as much chance of swimming against the pull of that current as a sunfish in a flood. Check it out.
Anything else on my To Watch list? Well, Walking Dead, Season Two will be on the air very soon. My friend Frank Darabont worked his ass off on the first episode, and I can’t wait to see it. There’s been a lot of talk about the way he was uncermoniously dumped from the show he made a hit. That bums me out and puts the show on the bubble; that said, a lot of very gifted people have gone to work on the thing, from Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book, to Greg Nicotero, who has done jaw-dropping make-up FX on a TV budget, to a powerful, committed cast. Let me put it this way: I don’t want to root against it. But it’s Frank’s show, and his treatment was unconscionable, which also makes it a little difficult to root for it. The jury is out.
What about you… what are you setting your DVR? Tell me all about it in the comments thread.