Dan Harmon on the Miserable State of TV

In the wake of his forced separation from his brainchild, Community, and the show’s subsequent showrunners making an underwhelming debut, it’s especially interesting to hear Dan Harmon’s rather bleak take on the state of television.

Positioning viewers as passive consumers of garbage and writers as powerless pawns of corporations, Harmon’s most fascinating commentary is on the level of censorship involved in the TV production process. Claiming that TV writers are patently “not allowed to say whatever they’re thinking” is a bold statement, especially coming from someone who seems to have been so successful in getting his vision onto the screen.

But Harmon’s comments point to a valid question, and one that has often been on my mind as someone aspiring to enter the entertainment industry: What control do writers, directors, and even showrunners really have? Is it possible to ever really see your work come to life in the way you envisioned it? What do you think?

((Apologies for the rather cynical post; I suppose I’m not in the cheeriest of places lately. –MQ))

Dan Harmon Rants About the ‘Garbage’ That Is TV
Jesse David Fox @ Vulture

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When asked why 30 Rock was able to stay on the air as a poorly rated yet very smart show, Harmon goes off, espousing a very “everything is bullshit” message. He calls all TV, regardless of quality, “a bunch of goddamn baby food made out of corn syrup.”

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Changing the Game in Video Game Adaptation

Seeing as the video game industry has become so massive, with such hits as Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which grossed $1 billion in 15 days in December, and Modern Warfare, which sold $400 million in a single day in 2011, why is it that film adaptations of video games are so often flops? Especially in the wake of the dismal Silent Hill: Revelation, it seems that the studios producing such adaptations really need to rethink their approach.

Some of the only successful such adaptations include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and the Resident Evil franchise, so perhaps the film industry should take notes from their example. In the article below, Resident Evil producer Jeremy Bolt, for example, said “When we developed the first screenplay, director Paul W.S. Anderson flew to Tokyo and spent a great deal of time with the game creators. We listened to their comments and respected their positions and that of the fans as much as we could. We see that as part of the success.”

So is that the key? True collaboration between the video game studio and the Hollywood studio? Well it’s certainly a start. It’s true that the video game creators know their fans much more intimately than the big-wigs in Hollywood. Ubisoft is taking this approach by putting together a complete package before proposing their projects to the studios, specifically by signing A-list stars (Michael Fassbender is slated to star in and produce Assassin’s Creed, and Tom Hardy is already attached to Splinter Cell).

But Prince of Persia showed that having A-list actors isn’t enough, as it failed to connect to audiences even with Jake Gyllenhaal as the star, and other recognizable actors such as Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina in supporting roles. There must be more to it than that – in my opinion, the weakness of these adaptations is primarily in the story. There is a delicate balance between pandering to the preexisting fans of the video game and being accessible to a new, wider audience, and the best way to appeal to both is through a story that is new and exciting for the fans that can also stand alone as a solid movie in its own right. If you ask me, the producers of these adaptations need to put more stock in their screenwriters.

What do you think would make film adaptations of video games more successful? Are there any video games you’re dying to see made into movies?

Why Video Game Companies Are Taking More Control Over Their Movies
Tatiana Siegel @ The Hollywood Reporter

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From books to plays to theme park rides, Hollywood has a long history of transforming successful intellectual properties into box-office hits.

But when it comes to video games, the track record is surprisingly dismal. Despite sales figures that have made film executives drool — Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 grossed $1 billion in 15 days in December, and Modern Warfaresold $400 million in a single day in 2011 — only one film based on a video game, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, has ever crossed the $100 million threshold domestically ($131 million).

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Reviving ‘Arrested Development’

If you’ve seen Arrested Development, you know how undeniably amazing it is, and you may also know the frustration that many experienced when it was cancelled. It’s an old story: viewer meets show, show is amazing, show gets cancelled by (usually Fox) network because of small viewership without giving it time to grow, DVD sales and Netflix views bring show to larger audience, audience wants more! The quintessential example of this story comes in the form of Firefly, which did get revisited in the form of the film adaptation Serenity because of major fan activism and DVD sales.

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Yet Arrested Development is experiencing a revival the likes of which Firefly fans have only dreamed of: a whole 14 new episodes are being produced, all of which will be added to Netflix simultaneously. I can guarantee that I’ll be among the many viewers who binge watch the entire season in one day. The release is slated for May, with speculations of May 4th being the official date.

The complications involved in getting the actors back together while many of them have moved on to successful television (Will Arnett) and film (Jason Bateman, Michael Cera) careers and the fact that all of the episodes will be released at once has led to what looks to be a very interesting format to this so-called fourth “season” of the show, which will in fact look very little like a normal season. Check out this article about the uniqueness of this project, with comments from its star Jason Bateman and creator Mitch Hurwitz.

New ‘Arrested Development’: What to Expect
Ellen Gray @ PopMatters

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The creator and cast of “Arrested Development” were reunited Wednesday at the Television Critics Association’s winter meetings in Pasadena with the people who’d (mostly) loved them before it was cool.

Or at least before millions more people discovered the show on DVD and decided that TV critics had, after all, been right about the series, which ran for three little-watched seasons on Fox between 2003 and 2006.

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