It's Going To Be A Box-Set Christmas

Christopher Fowler
_67526132_gormenghast-624 It's been a strange year for film, with mainly weak blockbusters, no decent Hollywood comedies and no strong horror movies. A further retreat into sequels and reboots has set the pattern for the future, and only Universal is doing something fresh, ditching the 30 year-old idea of the tentpole release to concentrate on a smaller, wider range of films. But it was a good year to be a kid - apart from endless superhero franchises now working to long-term marketing plans that will see those children well into adulthood - there was the charming, knowing 'Paddington' which worked much better than anyone expected, and the sugar-rush assault of 'The Lego Movie'. I've now seen the latter film twice, so stuffed is it with post-modern gags and sharp digs at consumerist culture. That it does this while selling you the kind of product it's telling you to avoid is a stroke of genius. But what's most striking is how few films have been about anything real. The award-contenders are mostly idiosyncratic takes on unusual personal stories, or fantasies, while television is picking up audiences with an appetite for long-form well-told stories featuring very real characters. From a glance at the upcoming slates, it looks as if the film industry will now concentrate on kid and teen audiences while TV will go after adult viewers. This is a welcome change in many respects that returns us to the Dickensian idea of the serial. How can cinema compete with the likes of 'Breaking Bad', 'True Detective', 'Fargo' and even 'Hannibal' now that TV is shooting in the style once reserved for exclusive use by cinema? This is good news for anyone planning to veg out in front of the TV this Christmas. I've even contemplated watching 'Game of Thrones'. Upcoming we have 'Wolf Hall' and 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell'. What I'd like most to see is the serialisation of books which are not on the old BBC roster of Sunday serials - high on my list would be a reboot of 'Gormenghast' and the Phillip Pullman 'Amber Spyglass' series. Now that anything is possible within a TV budget, what books would you most like to see serialised as shows?


Wayne (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 09:24

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Yes I agree with you, but it's going to be a box set Christmas for us here in Yorkshire mainly because there is so little on the TV that is of interest to us this year. What is it they say? Christmas is a time for children. Well it surly seems to be that way these days

May I take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and wish you a fantastically creative 2015! Best wishes Christopher......

K Page (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 11:58

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'd like to see 'Barnaby Rudge' done properly [ expensive, probably]

Ken Mann (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 12:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Mike Ripley's "Angel" novels. For some reason I see the standup Mark Thomas in the title role.
From the US I would like to see Jaques Futrelle's Thinking Machine get the full Jeremy Brett/Holmes treatment with Peter MacNicol as Professor Van Dusen.
To stretch the effects folk a little, the Counter-Reformation fantasies of John Whitbourn.

Matthew (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 14:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I would love to see Bryant and May of course.

Stainless Steel Rat could be a fun Sci Fi series to create, and easy enough to go beyond the book. In a similar vein the Lankhmar books by Fritz Lieber would also work.

Have a great Christmas and New Year.

John (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 16:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The Bryant and May series, of course! Can't believe no one else beat me to that.

Would be fun to see Ben Aaronovitch's books show up on TV or the movies some day. Ned Beauman's very original novels would make interesting TV for sure.

I wish John Logan in his rather shallow reading of Victorian horror had discovered Richard Marsh and adapted Marsh's novels into what became Penny Dreadful. What we got was awfully familiar rehash. Only the Frankenstein's Creature working as a stage hand in the Grand Guignol was original. The rest of it practically a carbon copy of movies from the past. That exorcism episode? Spare me.

What if Logan had instead worked into his Victorian hodgepodge the story of the bizarre creatures in The Beetle and The Joss? There's some original 19th century horror for you! The gender-bending transformations and sexuality issues raised rather subversively in both books ought to appeal to a writer like Logan.

J. Folgard (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 18:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'd love to see Phil Rickman's Doctor Dee novels on TV, or Mark Charan Newton's Drakenfeld. There's a big dose of fantasy atmosphere mixed with crime for both. On the impossible-to-adapt list, I'd be curious about John Crowley's 'Little, Big' family saga. And of course our two wonderful old detectives!
Looking forward to 'Wolf Hall' and 'Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell' too, even if they end up being massive disappointments they'll still be endlessly rereadable as books (quick note aside, it was your blog that made me check out Hilary Mantel's Crowley novel when it came out, and I loved it! Thanks admin!).

Vivienne (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 19:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The Moonstone - although it's probably been done and I just missed it.

Steve2 (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 20:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Definitley recommend veging out in front of game of thrones- for me one of the best series on telly at the moment. Each series best watched 2 eps per night for 5 days.

John Griffin (not verified) Tue, 23/12/2014 - 21:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Pullman's Northern Lights Trilogy; Hoban's Riddley Walker.