Friday, April 28, 2006

In Which The Author Opines

In case you've been wondering why the content was scanty these past few days, the short answer is that I've been on vacation. You may be wondering why I actually get less blogging done when I'm off work than when I'm at work, and the answer to this question is really long and complicated, and involves strange elder snake deities and robot pirates from Earth's far future. Leave it be said that everyone ends up sitting on my couch for extended periods of time, punctuated by trips to the bar on the corner and occasionally going to the supermarket at three in the morning to bug the check-out girl. And interplanetary space war, too.

The amount of interest I actually have in the James Bond franchise is probably so small as to defy measurement by any method of rational deduction. And yet, reading all the crap in recent months about the status of the Bond franchise (triggered by the hiring of a new actor to play the character) put an idea in my head that I might as well inflict upon you.

Keep in mind, when it comes to Bond, I was raised in a strict Orthodox household. That is, James Bond was Sean Connery, and maybe David Niven. Everyone else was a mere pretender. Which is why, to this day, I have not seen a non-Connery (or non Casino Royale) Bond film all the way through. The most I've ever seen of another Bond was maybe twenty minutes of a Timothy Dalton film I saw on TNT one day. That's it. I think my parents and I rented one of the Pierce Brosnan movies on one of my visits home a few years back, but were unable to finish it for the sheer stupidity...

In any event, there seems to be some degree of ennui on the part of the filmgoing public as to the franchise, as well as a notable fatigue on the part of the filmmakers themselves. They like to tout all the numbers about it being the most enduring franchise in film history or whatever, but it's hard to hide the fact that the whole endeavor has rather gone downhill in the view of everyone but the twenty-something males who are the target audience. Which is fine, I suppose, but man, do you really have to aim so low?

The people in charge of Bond have a unique window of opportunity right now during which they could, if they chose, reinvigorate the franchise in a distinctly novel fashion. That is, they should take a page from the Doctor Who playbook.

Remember The Five Doctors? It's been years since I've seen any Doctor Who and yet I still have fond memories of that particular movie. It may not have been the best episode ever shot (just looking around on the internet, the fan consensus seems to be that it was a loose excuse of a plot draped around the sheer fun of seeing all the different Doctors interact), but everyone remembers it because it was fun and pretty much gave the audience exactly what they wanted . . . which is not always a good idea, but can definitely work when executed correctly.

Well, anyway, every actor who has ever plyed Bond (except for David Niven, but for these purposes he doesn't count) is currently still alive. Connery and Roger Moore may be getting up there in age, but both are still fairly active. Everyone knows that different actors have portrayed Bond -- why not use it to the filmmakers' advantage? Say what everyone else has already assumed for years: 007 is an office that is periodically refilled. Once a Bond decides to retire, his death is faked and he's farmed out to some exotic paradise to live the rest of his days in peace and quiet, on Her Majesty's tab.

The movie writes itself: some nefarious villain or organization, say, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., finds the Top Secret files of the 007 project and sets out to kill all Bonds, past and present. Every Bond gets an action setpiece of some sort (best to do it quick before Connery has to do his with a walker and an oxygen tank), every Bond partisan gets a few minutes of "their" Bond in action. They all get together to foil the villainous plot, and the newest Bond gets to play the key role in taking out whatever doomsday weapon is on the boards, cementing him in the public's mind as the current dude. Maybe have Connery die a fittingly heroic death that won't leave a dry eye in the house (you know, just like they didn't do for Captain Kirk). If you want to be really clever you can have George Lazenby play the villain. Cut, print, it's a wrap. You could write it in your sleep and still have a monster hit.

Seriously, why they haven't done this is beyond me. If they did it with a modicum of style it'd be one of those rare "event" movies that actually succeeded in getting people excited.

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