Monday, May 16, 2011

Upstaging the upfronts: Lucky there’s a pantsless guy

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2011 at 10:40 PM

After days of boring dispatches from the network upfronts, there’s finally news I can in some way cheer:

Seth McFarlane is remaking The Flintstones!


I know, it sounds bizarre. But not so much when you really think about it. The ‘Stones were actually a pretty subversive bunch in their earliest days, before Hanna-Barbera hopelessly diluted their suburban-satirical concept with babies, pets, the Great Gazoo and thank God I can’t remember what else. But catch a first-season episode, and you’re in for some wicked pop-cultural commentary -- take-no-prisoners sendups of everything from teen idolhood to the TV industry itself.

(It’s easy to spot a winner amid the endless reruns: Look for very thickly lined drawings and listen for that strange, honking cadence Mel Blanc initially gave Barney. Funny how they’d later go on to make the character sound just like Ed Norton, but only after Gleason had threatened to sue the whole bunch for copyright infringement. But I digress.)

Anyway, McFarlane is a fine choice to carry on that highly adult tradition, and hopefully rescue the property from its subsequent decades of vitamin-shilling inoffensiveness. His own shows may not be consistently stellar, but they take chances, and the result is usually at least one honest-to-Jeebus belly laugh per 90 minutes of air time. Not a bad ratio for TV -- especially not in an era in which Outsourced can stay on the air for a fucking year.

Meanwhile, it took this momentous, Bedrock-shaking news to make me to realize what had been missing from NBC’s presentation: any update on the reboot of The Munsters that had been announced last fall as a “go” project for Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller. (I guess, like a lot of folks, I was too busy counting my blessings that the David E. Kelley Wonder Woman has been pronounced too wretched to air, and will be joining the Aquaman-goes-to-Smallville pilot Mercy Reef in the comics-to-TV graveyard.)

But TV Line’s Michael Ausiello remembered, and tried to pin down NBC president Bob Greenblatt as to just when Fuller might be taking his trip down Mockingbird Lane.

I’ll direct you to the source for Greenblatt’s “answer” -- a triumph of evasive exec-speak that, to my layman’s ears, translates roughly as “It’s up Jeff Zucker’s ass. Let me know when you want to see it, and we’ll be happy to set something up.”

I sure hope that doesn’t mean the property reverts to the Wayans brothers, who had spent years “developing” a Munsters feature film before Fuller snatched it away. Let it go to somebody else, I say -- some bold young visionary who can truly put a unique stamp on the material.

Give it to Tommy Wiseau, before it’s too late.

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