Martin Carr reviews the first episode of Scream: The TV Series…
Anyone remember Party of Five? Exactly the same as Dawson’s Creek but without those homely qualities of a Katie Holmes or Michelle Williams. It aired on Channel Four in the Nineties, convincing Miramax producers that casting Neve Campbell in Scream was a good idea. Providing her with a means to pay the mortgage for twenty years and three subsequent sequels.
Initially championed by Wes Craven maker of original Nightmares on Elm Street. Scream was touted as a revisionist reinvention. That most post-modern of commodities known as the tongue in cheek slasher movie. A nudge, nudge, wink, wink wake up call for an outdated genre. Written by Kevin Williamson who went on to pen The Faculty for Robert Rodriguez, Scream is still heralded as a benchmark today. Spawning numerous copycat flicks including I Know What You Did Last Summer, as well as the more recent and outstanding Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. A film which updates the hillbilly stereotype, whilst demonstrating why teenagers and wood chippers are a dangerous combination. Which brings me onto MTV’s Scream: The TV Series.
Set twenty years after Craven’s opus and produced by the Weinstein brothers, Williamson’s original story is updated and set out with efficiency from the off. Five minutes in there are subtle nods to the fan faithful, social media references aplenty and bikini clad babes everywhere. This cast of relative unknowns take it seriously enough, while the ironically axed Hannibal is name checked to keep it contemporary. Naysayers are also swiftly sidestepped by a central character, who gives direct instruction on how to treat this new incarnation. Which boils down to forget the origin and plumb for emotional investment instead.
To be honest Scream: The TV Series is neither subtle nor overly clever. But Williamson and Craven made a franchise and fortune from exactly this approach so where’s the harm. People may think this a bad idea but there have been worse. Friends spin off Joey anyone? Yes the characters are stereotypical but that was always going to happen. There are no big surprises and it remains close to its roots. For me Scream: The TV Series does exactly what it says on the tin which is no bad thing.
Will it get the ratings necessary for survival? Only time will tell. By definition the life cycle is finite because there will be an end game. It depends how intricate they can make their character backstories. Keep it interesting enough with ample opportunity for deviations from the source material and this could make two seasons. However, if you show every single beat as an extended teaser over your end credits again I will have no sympathy for you. Such tactics are arse covering exercises and demean the product. Please have balls enough to believe in your creation, before resorting to two-bit tuppenny market trader methods. As someone famously fictional once said ‘I find your lack of faith disturbing.’