Friday, 11 April 2014

THE TRUMAN SHOW: the television show

Friday, 11 April 2014

Peter Weir's masterpiece The Truman Show is being developed into an actual television show; which makes sense in some respects, but also feels like an oddly pointless endeavour. If you're somehow unaware, the 1998 sci-fi drama concerned a man called Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) who was unwittingly the star of the world's most popular reality TV show. His entire life from birth had been spent on a massive sound-stage doubling as an idyllic seaside town, and his everyday existence manipulated by programme-makers to keep him blissfully unaware his every waking moment is being watched as entertainment.

It's a fantastic film. One of my favourites, actually. I can't see many ways you could improve it, which is my biggest issue with a TV series adaptation. On the plus side, this concept perhaps suits an actual television series much better than a two-hour movie. Courtesy of the long-form nature of a TV drama, the writers could explore a lot of different avenues with much greater depth, and if the show's good then audiences could become more invested in the character of Truman. The movie was incredibly prescient about today's reality TV culture (premiering pre-Big Brother), but perhaps there's more satire that can be squeezed from the idea 16-years later? Audiences probably don't find the film's concept all that bizarre now, worryingly!

However, even if The Truman Show TV series is a well-crafted drama with good writing and obvious merit (taking a slightly different approach, and having time to better investigate its ideas), how can it possibly beat the film's amazing ending? I won't spoil things for those who haven't seen The Truman Show yet, but the ending's a transcendent joy that still gives me goosebumps. Will audiences stick with the TV series for years, knowing how it's likely to end? Or what an "opposite ending" would be? It feels hard to imagine any TV series bettering the film in respect of its climax.

I have mixed feelings about this news, as you can tell, because it could tarnish the good name of a movie that already did a brilliant job with the concept. Paramount are also developing TV shows based on their films Narc (again directed by Joe Carnahan), Ghost (written by Fringe's Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner), and The Terminator (written by X-Men: First Class's Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller), so originality is at a premium.