As many of you know, we’re in the age of reboots. For years we’ve watched our childhood memories mined and re-franchised to varying degrees of success. With TV reboots of Duck Tales, Danger Mouse, and Inspector Gadget all announced just last week, we’re only just beginning to witness the power of money-minded studios as they scroll through the internet to see what was most popular in the 80s and 90s. As the recent trend of blockbusters over the past decade has suggested, reboots are here to stay, especially if they’re dark and gritty. As the bootleg Power Rangers short-film proved last week, audiences are still hungry for a little more blood, sex, and brooding in their entertainment. So to further that trend, here’s a prophetic vision of the future we can look forward to if this continues. Welcome to the darkest timeline my friends, you’ve earned it. Now here’s some grit in your eyes:
5. The Modernist and Post-Modernist Adventures of Wishbone
If you were a kid in the 90s who grew up watching PBS then you must surely remember the cute jack russell terrier who daydreamt himself as the lead role in classic works of literature like The Odyssey, Oliver Twist and The Red Badge of Courage, all abridged for the pleasure of children. These literary exploits were all tied in to a real-world morality-centric narrative involving kids, Joe, Sam and David. I always wished the Wishbone adaptations had continued, so for the reboot, let’s step away from classic literature and venture into the 20th and 21st centuries. What’s the story Wishbone? This week it’s Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, followed by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Maybe we’ll conclude the first season with Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. Of course all of these literary journeys would tie back to the real world moral depravities facing Joe, Sam, and David, now well into adulthood. The dark and gritty twist? None of the stories will be watered down; for the children, of course.
He was a soldier once, one of the deadliest men who ever lived, until a roof caved in during a mission, taking his eye, his dignity, and the life of his best friend Pvt. J. “Wimpy” Wellington. Now, years later, Frank “Popeye” Peterson lives quietly with a fishing crew off the coast of Washington, spending his days in sullen silence and nights in the arms of local prostitute and sex addict Betty Boop. Popeye’s tried hard to keep a low profile, but that doesn’t stop his former C.O. from finding him and asking him to return to the service for one last job. “I’m a sailor,” says Popeye. “No, you’re a soldier,” his C.O. replies. Convinced, Popeye inquires about the mission. His C.O tells him the Russians have been experimenting with genetic engineering, and have created the first super- soldier. Popeye is asked to travel to Russia to take out the genetics lab and destroy their creation. Popeye declines the offer, telling his C.O that with his injuries he doesn’t stand a chance. His C.O tells him they’ve been working on something special, a steroid code-named SPNCH. And we’re off.
Popeye, equipped with a pipe that doubles as a knife, flamethrower, and radio, arrives in Russia. There, he falls in love with a local woman Olive Oylenko, and confronts the super-soldier Bluto “The Brute” Pulkowski. In a SPNCH infused rage, Popeye snaps The Brute’s spine as heroes are wont to do. A post-credit scene reveals that Pvt. Wellington, very much alive, was behind the whole Russian project. As he enters his secret lab, the camera pulls back to reveal row upon row of Bluto clones. Boom. See ya for the sequel!
3. Babysitter’s Club
In the vein of Game of Thrones, Babysitter’s Club, explores the bloody, political struggle of a group of Connecticut-based babysitters whose desire for neighborhood monopoly leads to death and damnation. It begins with Kristy, whose desire to save up money for college leads her to start a club with a group of three other high-school girls and one boy. The club works like a well-oiled machine, even after new members are brought in, and Kristy requires members to pay her 10% of their earning as dues. But soon jealousy and infighting over who gets priority over which clients threatens to tear the group apart. Secrets and alliances form, children are threatened and forced to request specific club members. All of this leads to the season-ending shocker that sees Kristy run down in the street by an unknown assailant. As members fight to decide who will be the new club leader, and inherit Kristy’s hidden money, their seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood is thrown into chaos. And that’s just before the reincarnated soul of Kristy possess one of the neighborhood children. The road to Stoneybrook is paved with good intentions…and blood.
2. Inspector Gadget
“I was a man once. And now? Now I’m just a useless old machine.” And so begins Inspector Gadget. Taking a page from the great gumshoe novels by Raymond Chandler, and Blade Runner, Inspector Gadget features a down on his luck detective who’s been made a cyborg after an accident nearly cost him his life. Accompanied by his dog Brain, the Inspector has been following a trail of crimes led by a mob boss, rumored to be a brain in a glass jar. Recently the cases have dried up and the Inspector has taken to drinking alone at a neighborhood bar, nursing his alcoholism and infatuation with the local bartender, Gretchen. But his cyborg enhancements have left him castrated. “I’ve got all the gadgets in the world, but not the one that really matters,” he laments in a sullen voice-over.
The Inspector is pulled from his stupor when his niece, Penny, a smart girl who often finds herself on the wrong side of the law, goes missing. Penny has been the one bright spot in the Inspector’s life, so he cleans himself up and sets out to find her. The Inspector finds himself reopening cases, searching for clues. He uncovers a series of women who have disappeared. Eventually the trail leads to the mobster, Klaw, the woman responsible for the kidnappings. After a bloody struggle The Inspector kills Klaw, only to realize upon closer inspection that she has Penny’s nose. A series of flashbacks that present a new look at the clues, reveal that Klaw, sick of being a brain in a jar, created a new body for herself out of the women she kidnapped, including Penny. The Inspector collapses to his knees and transforms his hand into a gun. He places it to his head. “Go, go, gadget” he says. The screen cuts to black.
1. You’re So Goddamn Irresponsible, Charlie Brown
With a soundtrack set entirely to music by emo-punk band The Used, this take on the Peanuts picks up fifteen years after the original comic strip with the gang well into their twenties. All the old familiar faces have gathered together once again to attend the funeral of Pigpen who was found dead from a heroin overdose. Linus and Sally have married, but Linus’ severe anxieties and Sally’s jealousy have put a strain on their marriage. Marci and Peppermint Patty have married and moved to NY, but unbeknownst to Marci, Peppermint Patty’s involved in an affair. Schroder tells everyone he’s an accomplished pianist, but he had to sell his piano years ago to pay rent. Lucy, currently pregnant, finished two years of college with a psychology major but never finished. Only Franklin, an accomplished motivational speaker, is entirely satisfied with his life (hey, he was the token black character who had no lines for years; let him have this small victory.)
The only one not in attendance at the funeral is Charlie Brown. He’s leaning against the brick wall, remembering the good old days, the days before unemployment concerns, bills, and deaths of old friends. He wishes Snoopy was there, but the dog left with Woodstock years ago to travel the world. After the funeral, Linus comes and meets Charlie at the wall and asks if he and Lucy have made a decision whether or not to keep the baby. Charlie only shrugs. The two men’s relationships with one another’s respective sisters have left their own relationship strained. Charlie knows he should marry Lucy but he can’t imagine spending his life with her. “I just want to know if I’m a good man, Linus.” Linus pauses for a long while, before finally saying, “You used to be Charlie, you used to be.” Linus keeps talking but his voice sounds strange to Charlie, garbled and nonsensical.
At Charlie and Lucy’s rundown apartment, the two sit in silence. Charlie ponders over the last words he said to her, “Don’t you dare try and psychoanalyze me you cheap dime-store hussy.” He wishes he could apologize to her, at least for the sake of their unborn child but he can’t. Instead, bitterly the only thing he can muster is “Will you marry me, Lucy?” Lucy opens her mouth but just like with Linus all Charlie hears is wah-wah-wah. Startled, he realizes everyone he knew has finally grown up. Knowing there is nothing left for him there, Charlie stands up and walks away.