As always, she nails it all!
Here is my contribution to the retooling of DS
RETOOLING DARK SHADOWS
I found another blog on the the discussion of “how would you do DS now if you had an infinite budget?” I thought that I would bring my view on what a contemporary, successful DS would be now.
1) Study “Battlestar Galactica” both he original, and the new version. Note that people who dismissed the original love the new version. Watch the Sean Connery Bond films, and move to the Daniel Craig ones. Notice something? They do not make fun of the originals, do not camp it up. On the contrary, go deeper, and more realistic, with strong characterization, and real dilemmas. So, you know what direction to go.
2) Make it a weekly series. There must be a situation solved per episode -at most in two. Those people are competent, and nothing sells competence like solving problems on a regular basis. In the meantime develop arcs that take place over several episodes. Better yet, have two or three arcs going on at the same time. Those arcs should be staggered, so that once an arc gets finished, there may be one episode to catch one's breath, but the other arcs will kick in high gear now.. The situation solve in every episode will have different degrees of seriousness (and sometimes may be humorous), but the fact that there are problems to be addressed explains why they do not pay more attention to suspicious behavior or circumstances. They will be noted, but not pondered till later. This way you do not have irritation at your characters because they take forever to do anything, nor a letdown when an arc is done, and the plot founders trying to figure out what to do next.
3) People in there by now are cool about the supernatural events. They have seen worse, and know that they can survive. Base that attitude on that of the characters in SyfFy's “Eureka” No matter how bizarre and out-of the-left field the situation the answer is “We'll deal with it” no “Arrggh…Horror…I can't believe this.” After a couple of years you know that anything is possible. and also that there is an answer that you can find.”
4) Practice economy on the supernatural happenings. When you have one, instead of throwing another one right into the mix, and another yet, develop the one you have, and the most implications you can get out of it. Also, the plot may not be so much about the supernatural element per se, as long as the plot involves characters that are supernatural. This expands the field of potential plots. Now you can raid swashbucklers, romantic comedies, screwball comedies, noir movies, war movies, spy movies, and all other different genres. Just have a vampire, a werewolf, or a ghost involved in it to provide a peculiar twist. Pick your favorite movie. Any movie. Make it a DS plot by giving a prominent role in it to Barnabas, to Quentin, to Chris Jennings, to Angelique, to Nicholas… Give it a tweak while keeping its essence, And voila, you have eaten your cake and kept it too.
5) Practice economy in the killings. Yes, they will happen once in a while and “everyone can die”(and come back a ghost), but do not make it a daily occurrence. Collinsport is a small town, and if it gets a death rate similar to an area inhabited by a drug cartel, people WILL notice. You may get the National Guard, and CSI: Collinsport, and end up with a lot of cop talk. That or you may have to posit that the characters are real idiots. (I recall a comment about 'Interview with the vampire” in which it was noted that while the black slaves knew what the vampires were, and tried to burn them off, the white characters seemed oblivious to their depredations which meant that WHITE PEOPLE ARE SURE STUPID). Establish that as a rule (with exceptions every now and then) the effects of Barnabas' feeding are similar to a bad cold (You feel like sh*t, you have to stay in bed, your head does not function, you moan a lot…. and a couple of days later it is over).
6) On the same vein, create a “Minnow three hour charter tour” that will disappear characters when either the actor becomes unavailable, or the writers do not know what else to do with the character. This means that BARNABAS IS NOT A DISPOSAL SYSTEM for lazy writers.. It is one thing to have him kill a character for reasons intrinsic to the plot, or for personal reasons that may be good, bad, or indifferent, it is another to have him, say, kill Carl Collins because John Karlen wants to do a play away from NY. Let those characters end up in a desert island with a millionaire and his wife, a movie star, a professor and Mary Ann. Maybe bring them back sometime later with ominous warnings, and a hazy memory where they have been. Create a mystery about their absence, which may be explained by pseudo science babbling…
7) Character matters. Make each character an individual, with likes dislikes, and quirks, with motivations for doing the things they do. You may start with the stock figure “ingénue' or “stalwart hero” or “villain”, but in the end each character has to become interesting in his/her own right, no matter what else is happening. You may bring all the spook stuff you want, but that has to happen to real people Remember, the viewers did not find Barnabas fascinating because he was a vampire, but because he was a sharply defined individual. And the reason why Kolchak is beloved by the fans is not the Monster of the Week, but the behavior of Kolchak, who would have been interesting. no matter what he tackled. Which means retool the three ingénues, Vicky, Maggie, and Carolyn, and give them something to do, and want, and like through the plot. All characters can initiate plots, all characters can solve at least one crisis or find the necessary information. They have opinions. Those opinions may be wise or they may be incredibly stupid. But it is important that they have them.
8) Politics and religion. People have to discuss it in the show. Why? Because in real life people do that. It rounds their characters As I pointed above, people do have opinions, good, bad, and indifferent. And they have opinions about politics – even if is is the feasibility of a Jacobite restoration. The same goes for religion. There is another consideration. Current events involve situations of high dramatic impact. Just think of what might have happened if in 1795 they had acknowledged the French Revolution. Why, you might have had guillotines, and tumbrels, and the Scarlet Pimpernel. Also, the games of power and political maneuvering are a fascinating theme that can be adapted to any backdrop. And since religion tends to involve games of power, including it may give rise to plot developments. (Plus the realization that a political campaign turns reasonable people into raging lunatics.)
9) FORGET HODS AS A STARTING POINT. HODS deals with a vampire killing off most of the cast before being killed himself. From that beginning you may not have the time to backtrack and make Barnabas sympathetic again before cancellation. (since we are talking about a weekly series). Better make him sympathetic, though flawed, from the start, picture him as avoiding doing major damage (as I pointed above, the consequences of his attacks are no worse than a bad cold). Yet there is always the danger of his going off the deep end due to unresolved issues. When he freaks out, watch out!
So, with these rules, can we get a new retooled series?