M: If you read this site only sparingly, you may not be sure why we subtitled it “A Quibbling Sibling Rivalry,” since in many of our pieces we agree, or just banter back and forth without much quibbling at all. Well, those who know us well can share that even when we tend to agree we quibble quite a bit over the details and the semantics of the argument itself. One of those quibbles broke out just yesterday, and was kick-started by a mere mention of the new BBC mini-series Emma, which E and C (without me) will be reviewing. We decided to bring you the blow-by-blow, so you can see how it led to us questioning if the BBC will begin producing porn. Without further ado…
E: C, will call you to discuss Emma, okay?
M: This is, what, the 15th version of Emma that’s been made in the past 15 years (if you include Clueless)? I know you guys love Jane Austen and all, but are there any other Victorian authors?
C: Actually, it’s the fourth version, if you count Clueless. But the other three all came out in ’95-’96, which means that the last version was fourteen years ago. And the mini-series in the group, well, sucked.
M: Oh, yes, clearly, there was a HUGE void. Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a Lord of the Rings movie in going on 7 years now, I think it’s time for someone to start planning a remake!
E: Um, also, Jane Austen is not Victorian. And eek, I can’t believe its been that long since LOTR. Bring on The Hobbit! However, I would agree that a remake at this point wasn’t necessary. That’s not a reason not to discuss it or post about it. As it turned out, at least in my opinion, it was very good.
M: For the record, I’m not saying we (you) shouldn’t talk or post about it, because you should. I’m also not saying that it couldn’t be good. It’s just that it’s redundant, and that they should make something from someone else’s work that would fall under the same, or at least a similar, genre/time period. And E, if she’s not Victorian, than what is she? From looking her up I see that the timeline is wrong, since she wrote well before Victoria was queen, but from my less learned and English major-y position, most works that are of a similar genre to hers are labeled Victorian, even if the timeline is wrong. What should it be called?
E: Her period is called Regency… And they keep remaking her, M, because she’s the best. Because there isn’t anyone else comparable. And because she’s popular and people will always watch a good version of a great story. What I don’t understand is why they don’t do anything with her less famous works – last year we had practically the first version of Northanger Abbey (C’s favorite) and there’s never been one of Lady Susan, so far as I know.
M: Um, NEVER heard of “regency” as a genre, so that kind of makes my point. 🙂 As for the lesser works, that also goes to my point. Pride and Prejudice, Emma…. those are the only movies I can think of, and there are tons of versions of each. Okay, wait, Sense and Sensibility was her, too, right? Anyway, diversify! And it’s not just with her, it’s all the remakes and sequels and crap that Hollywood spews out… come up with some more original (or at least less “already done”) material!
C: Regency isn’t a genre, it’s an era – the era in which England was ruled by the Prince Regent (while King George was nutso). Like how “Victorian” is the reign of Victoria. 😛 Actually though, “Regency romance” is a major subgenre of romance novels. Because I know you care deeply about such things.
M: Yes, very deeply.
E: And wait, what was your point, that we should call it Victorian because you’ve never heard of the period it actually comes from?
C: Anyway, I completely agree that they should make stuff by other authors and quit doing Austen so often. There’s plenty of good material out there. That said, the Best Austen Miniseries Of All Time (Pride and Prejudice 1995) came only fifteen years after the BBC had done a weaker version of P&P. I think they figure that if they do a great version, nobody’s going to protest it just because they saw another one fifteen years earlier. And Austen is a big name and therefore a safe financial bet.
It could be worse. It could be the frickin’ UNNECESSARY SPIDER-MAN REBOOT!!!!
E: C, you could not be more right. Ridiculous!!! I’m channeling my inner J. Jonah Jameson about that… Down with Spider-Man!
M: Yeah, boo to the reboot of Spidey. Of course, it’s not nearly as bad as the re-boot of Hulk two years after the first movie, but still, for crying out loud, come up with something new!
E: Well, but the first Hulk movie sucked. Spider-Man, on the other hand, is fantastic. That’s the key difference.
M: Yes, Spidey was good and Hulk sucked, but that only helps my point. Hulk do-over was still too soon, and the movie sucked. Spidey re-do is 10 times too soon because Spidey 1 and 2 were good. Heck, before they came out with Batman Begins, which you know is one of my favorite movies ever, I was skeptical that that was too soon, even though the Kilmer and Clooney Batmans were unwatchable. P&P or Emma re-do’s are too soon because they have made good versions of them more recently.
E: Why do you always think everything helps your point? I do not think that word means what you think it means.
C: I see what he means. Even a bad film’s remake requires a decent lapse of time for people to regain interest in a new version, so a great film requires much longer.
E: Well, I was interested in the newer Hulk, which was pretty decent. While I agree with you in general – that Hollywood needs new ideas – I’m wondering how many years you think it’s necessary to wait after a bad adaptation to try a new one?
M: How about… more than 2. 🙂
Seriously, though, it depends. There was a “bad” Spidey movie just a few years ago, and the reboot is still at least a couple years from theaters, but the good Spidey movies were recent enough that it feels way too soon. The Incredible Hulk felt fast because they started talking about the do-over pretty much as soon as Ang Lee’s flopped. If it’s a big-budget, big-promo thing, then I think you need to wait longer than you would if the first were a smaller-budget or TV movie/mini-series. If it’s a do-over of a one-off film, not something everyone’s at least a bit a familiar with, and the first version was bad, then it can be sooner. For the most part, if someone has made a really good version of something (like P&P), then leave it alone unless a remake will be able to do something that the good version wasn’t able to do, or unless it’s a retelling (like Clueless).
E: Did you actually think Spiderman 3 was bad? I thought it was – not as good, and disappointing, but not actively bad. I think they’re insane for even thinking about a reboot. To your other point, though – so far the mini-series of Emma is doing things shorter movie versions weren’t able to do, like establishing depth and character – and doing it far better than the previous ill-made mini-series. (And, by the way, 15 is more than 2.)
M: I still have yet to see Spidey 3, but that’s mostly because I’ve heard from so many people that it was lousy, and not worth the time, which was very disappointing.
C: IMO, Spidey 3 was not great, but it certainly wasn’t the kind of horror show that makes you scrap a franchise. And it made a lot of money. It was more the kind of thing that makes you say, “let’s get some better script writers for the next one.”
M: As for mini-series Emma, I actually didn’t know the new one was a mini-series, and I suppose I can get behind that a bit more, but my larger point still stands. There is a greater need for more non- (or less well known) Jane Austen Recengy era pieces than there is for a new version of Emma.
E: Recengy? Was that a typo or are you trying to provoke me? 😉
C: I agree with E that even if you have a good theatrical version of a book, it’s nice to have a good miniseries which can cover so much more ground with a much greater running time. But there is such a lot of unadapted material out there, I’d rather see them go to that first. Instead, though, the BBC has announced that Emma is the last costume drama they’ll be doing for a while. *WEEP*
M: Wait, will all their upcoming dramas include only naked people?