Thursday, October 1, 2015

"Scream: The TV Show"

The past few years have seen a surge in horror television series, and that could be a great thing if they ever manage to get it right. Horror, like fantasy, has a huge potential to sneak in important messages and concepts into its stories. And the horror genre is more naturally suited to tackle topics of morality and ethics. Unfortunately, most of the horror television has chickened out and shot below the mark, retreading tired, old “safe” messages and opted for more shock and gore than true, scary horror.

One of the efforts that started out with a lot of promise was this past summer’s Scream. It took a lot of the satire, self-awareness, and natural commentary on current culture that the film had, and went for the long-game of a series format. (Albeit a shorter, more focused, BBC-style 10 episode format.) The pop-culture-nerd character is always there to spell the messages out for the MTV audience.

(MTV audiences have always needed help. They were the ones, after all, too stupid to see that their favorite characters, Beevis and Butthead, were making fun of… the MTV audience. Never mind that today’s target weren’t even born when Beevis and Butthead, or Scream, were a thing.)

The problem is, of course, that the show loses its focus. It, like all slasher stories, is ultimately supposed to be a sleuth story. That could be sustained, but the writers seem to think that the audience will lose interest if there isn’t a lot of soap-opera drama. So, by the fourth episode, the murders stop and we have narrowed the solution down to one of two possible characters. (Or, this being Scream, the solution could be two characters.)

Our guide even spells this problem out:

“You can't do a slasher movie as a TV series. Think about it. Girl and her friend arrive at the dance, the camp, deserted town, whatever. Killer takes them out one-by-one. Ninety minutes later, the sun comes up and survivor girl sits in the ambulance watching her friends' bodies being wheeled past.”

No, MTV, you could do a slasher movie as a TV series if you wanted to, but you are less about morality tales and mysteries and more about teen-age drama and angst.

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