Saturday, August 5, 2017

But I Digress... A Cryptic Reboot

By Cat

(Bottom: M. Night Shayamalan, Top: The Cryptkeeper & Tales From the Crypt © HBO)

Hello kiddies! This week, I’m stepping a little bit out of the box. (But seriously, do I even really have a box? If I do, it fits so I “sits” anyway.) 

As I was poring over the scads of trailers for movies being released in August this year, one featurette caught my attention in the sidebar that gives you suggestions of other things to watch. 

This gave me a mixed reaction which started as an instantaneous “YASSSS FINALLY” and developed into “oh but it’s him” before ending up as “eh, the original was a mixed bag – how bad could it be? It could be cool!” This, of course, sparked my interest to bring you a segment about the upcoming TNT treatment of a beloved series. 

When I was younger, one of the best things about babysitting was that I could watch cable TV at my client’s house after the kids were asleep. This was the way I was able to watch MTV videos and other stuff I wouldn’t otherwise get to experience at home, where I had no cable. HBO’s Tales From the Crypt (1989-1996) was one of my favorites. 

My initial reaction came from that same nostalgic glee that had me squeeing my way through Stranger Things (2016-). The tempering factor was the fact that M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, Devil, The Visit) seemed to be the one at the helm of this one. I really don’t know where I stand with Shyamalan, and that worries me for such a beloved franchise. I understand why some fans are up in arms about the revelation. He’s responsible for some seriously ‘meh’ cinema. At the same time, he’s capable of delivering something masterful like Split (2017). 

Before I bury the lead, I’m afraid I must report that as of reports July 28th, the project is on indefinite pause.  I’ll get to the why here in just a moment. I just don’t want to get too many hopes up, only to crush them. Of course, for anyone horrified that Shyamalan was TNT’s pick, maybe it’s good news?
In any case, let’s explore this a bit. 

This isn’t the first flurry of interest in bringing the iconic horror series back. Deadline reported in 2011 that there was a new series in the works. That one was under an entirely different production team than the current lineup. Somewhere along the line as it plodded through development hell, it lost traction and nothing ever came of it. 

Fast forward a handful of years and January 2016 had stories popping up everywhere about the new Shyamalan-led series. Variety and Bloodydisgusting led the pack with their January 7th articles, which followed announcements made at that day’s Television Critics Association (TCA) executive session. The Variety article focused on the new “TNT Horror Block” that was in development. The cornerstone of that was set to be a new Tales series. They reported that the series would be based on the original EC Comics with a few new stories thrown in, and not based on the original HBO series. Then Bloodydisgusting’s article focused on the Cryptkeeper – or the lack of John Kassir (Jack the Giant Slayer, Smurfs 2, Rick and Morty) in the role with the new series. Say what?! 

See, that should have been my instant red flag. 


Of course there was public outcry about the information drop. I, for one, am not sure how I would feel about a Kassir-less Cryptkeeper. Herein lies the snag of the whole thing, really. 

HBO and the rights are where the series got stuck. I’m not sure that it’s all on HBO’s end so I feel I need to point that out. There are other individuals that were involved in that original production that have rights, as well. Deadline’s most recent article quoted both a statement from the network and information provided at a subsequent press conference with TNT’s president and Turner chief creative officer, Kevin Reilly.

“The underlying rights to the classic, vintage property are complicated. … TNT and others have been pursuing a solution for more than a year, with significant progress being made. We look forward to the potential for further active development of this valuable franchise once the clearance process is fully resolved.” – Turner Network Statement


Reilly went on to say “It’s been fun with lawyers, it’s been really fun… We did not know from the get-go or else we would not have announced it and made a big deal out of it. But in fact there were rights. It is among the most — if not the most — complicated rights structure I’ve ever seen in my career, and we had no idea as we got into it. It became a nightmare. So we said, ‘Fine.’ If and when this gets cleaned up, we’ll revisit.”

So there you have it. The series might happen at some point in the future. TNT seems to have continued interest, but don’t expect it in the Fall 2017 lineup as originally projected. By the time the network gets the green light, it’s unknown if Shyamalan will still be available to be involved. I suppose I’ll wait to hold out judgement until more information comes along. It would be nice to revisit the crypt and the grab-bag of horror tales therein. 

Who knows what the rights settlement will bring about. I, for one, hope that they can keep Kassir involved. He made the whole series for me and some other incarnation just wouldn’t be the same. With that in mind, I leave you with the classic series intro.

P.S. If you feel like taking a trip down memory lane to watch the original HBO series, or if you are curious and haven't seen it before, it's available to stream on Amazon and itunes.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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