Sunday, May 22, 2011

Get ready for time travels with Steven Spielberg, Christina Ricci and 'Charlie's Angels

Time travel will be much in evidence when the networksfield their new shows this fall. And we're not just talking about "Terra Nova," executive producer Steven Spielberg's fantasy adventure series about a family from the future time tripping to prehistoric days.
Yes, in the case of Fox's"Terra Nova," count on dinosaurs, and I don't mean the major broadcast networks. But this Spielberg-guided stroll through the"Jurassic Park" hardly will be the only time-travel experiment tried by those networks during the 2011-12television season, and the modern stone age won't be the most popular destination.
Get ready to jet back to the 1960s. ABC has booked "Pan Am," a '60s drama starring Christina Ricci, Kelli Garner, Karine Vanasse and Margot Robbie as flight attendants. NBC will groove back to that turbulent decade by opening"The Playboy Club," a drama set in Chicago.
What's behind this fascination with the era of the British Invasion, civil rights struggles, anti-war protests, the feminist movement and the generation gap? Perhaps its programmers' understandable yearning for those golden days when the big-three networks controlled all of television, calling all of the shots and printing money in the basement.
More likely, though, we're seeing the influence of television's most-admired show of the moment, AMC's"Mad Men." Only time will tellif "Pan Am" and "The PlayboyClub" will dig as deep into this fertile territory as writer-producer Matthew Weiner's acclaimed cable drama, but the bar has been set dizzyingly high.
One thing that hasn't changed since the '60s is that television remains a copycat medium ruled by theguiding principle of, if it works, steal it. While inviting comparisons to "Mad Men" may seem crazy, the lure of the '60s, as demonstrated so compellingly by Weiner and his team, is that it does provide such fascinating dramatic possibilities. To be successful, "Pan Am" and"The Playboy Club" will need to tap into those themes without seeming too derivative.
Concerns already have been raised about these throwback shows presentingbackward messages, featuring stewardesses and Playboy bunnies. "Mad Men," which doesn't return until early next year, has avoided this trap by acknowledging the sexism that existed and exploring it through the eyesof richly detailed male and female characters. If "Pan Am" and "The Playboy" club don't take the same travel precautions, then fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride through time.


No comments:

Post a Comment