Friday, 25 April 2014

Friday the 13th The Series- A New Beginning or has Jason Gone to Hell?

So… It was announced yesterday that there is going to be a new addition to the Friday the 13th canon in the form of a series of hour long TV shows. I thought I’d take some time to share my initial thoughts about this announcement and as it is extremely early days I will try and stay as grounded as I can but if this turns in to a speculative rant I can only apologise (unless I’m right, in which case, fuck it!).

Space-Jason... Spason
My experience of Jason Voorhees’ handy-work started when I was about sixteen and I noticed Jason X (or Jason in Space as my friends and I called it) in the video rental shop across the road from my house. A lot of hard-core horror fans, especially those with more years under their belt than me, would probably be scoffing right now to consider I actually started with what is one of the worst Jason films ever made. I loved it though; it was one of the best bad films I’d seen. I was laughing all the way through and instantly decided to take it round to a friend’s house so we could laugh together.

That may not seem like a great way to kick things off, laughing ironically at the expense of the film makers like some pretentious little shitbut it did birth a relationship with the franchise and a love of the character that went so much further than that. After pooling together to buy all ten films on DVD, me and my mates decided we would get together to try and watch them all back to back in one night. Stocked up on cheap cider and snacks we did exactly that. We followed Jason’s teen killing career from it's innovative and scary beginnings to it's ludicrously tongue in cheek ending. It goes without saying that the releases of the much welcomed Freddy vs. Jason and mediocre 2009 Friday the 13th were big events for us.
So admittedly my view of Mr. & Mrs. Voorhees is one that is blurred by nostalgia and fond memories so my point of view is going to be a little biased, but then again whose isn’t. If you are a fan of something then, by definition, you are carrying around a fondness and love for the back catalogue that earned your affections in the first place.
I'm sorry David
Back to the issue at hand though, a Friday the 13th TV series. I am already on a bad footing with this idea because I am not a fan of the recent TV boom. I lost count of the number of times I got recommended to watch The Walking Dead “you love zombies James; you will enjoy this I promise”. I didn’t enjoy it. I watched three episodes and was bored senseless. It was slow and dull, re-using film ideas minus the charm and making leaps of believability I just couldn’t get my head around. I tried American Horror Story, Lost, Prison Break and Twin Peaks but even David Lynch couldn’t grab my attention enough to get past three episodes. I understand I am in the minority here, but I have never felt the same satisfaction from any of these elongated farts as I can from a single hour and a half in the company of a great film maker.
Things look bad from my point of view from the very start then, but that isn’t really the point. There could be a show that would be good enough to change my mind (I am going to try True Detective after hearing so much positive talk) but I doubt I will ever get around to watching Breaking fucking Bad, probably just out of sheer stubbornness of being fed up of hearing about it. The question really raised though is what they could do with the character of Jason and the Camp Crystal Lake setting that would warrant a whole series of hour long episodes?
Well the question is extremely disappointingly answered in the press release as “…a storyline that re-imagines Jason in multiple time periods.” There are two ways to read this statement. The more down to earth approach would mean time periods within Jason’s life (hopefully excluding the space based future of Jason X) and investigate his upbringing and childhood, having to live with his deformities and an extremely predictable Norman Bate’s style relationship with his mother. The other is some ludicrous farce in which Jason romps his way through the streets of Victorian England (Jason the Ripper maybe?) in one episode before slicing his way through the native Americans in the next. From the little information that has been provided it is not possible to tell, the worrying word however is 're-imagines'. It’s a weasel word that film-makers have been using to avoid the tarnish of being called a re-make but does Jason need ‘re-imagining’? What is there to re-imagine? He has a solid and well-loved back story and his silent and relentless demeanour are what have made him so iconic. Re-boot or re-make maybe, but it had been ‘imagined’ just fine when it was first created.

“The series is contemporary, focusing on the eclectic characters of Crystal Lake who are forced to confront the return of the killer, as new secrets about his wacky family are revealed.” Wacky? Seriously, wacky? Are we to expect Jason Voorhees: The Klumps? To give it the benefit of the doubt, the press release, which has been cut and pasted on so many websites, seems to have been written by some PR lacky who has skimmed the Wikipedia page just before writing it. There are mistakes in Jason’s history which have been posted blindly by sites that should know better. This may sound like nit-picking but it is important to know that the people in charge of making it are as passionate about it as the fans who are going to watch it, and this press release would suggest they are not.
I can’t think of how Jason’s story could be fuel enough for a long winded epic TV series but I am willing to be proved wrong. I hope I am proved wrong, and if not let’s face it, what will it actually change? I still feel the same love for the old work and there is still talk of a new film in 2015 (which I again don’t have high hopes for). So what would it matter if they made a series where Jason skipped through a meadow picking daisies for three hours an episode? There are countless novels and comic books which I haven’t read and some of those might be brilliant, what is to stop me simply ignoring a crappy TV show? As a fan of something it is hard not to get excited, you want more to add to the collection, you want the history and ideas to be treated with the respect and love you hold for them. There are already so many terrible Friday the 13th sequels (Jason Takes Manhattan? He is not a fucking Muppet!), maybe this is a chance to treat Jason with the respect he deserves. This TV series may not be for me, and it doesn't have to be that's fine, I just hope it can instill a new generation of horror fans with a good reason to go see where it all comes from, even if some of it is laughably bad.

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