Tuesday, January 9, 2007

WISH-CRAFT: RETURN ENGAGEMENTS

Back in the Tubeworld Dynamic days, I published a list of characters I'd like to see come back to our TV screens. I can't remember them all, but four of them stand out:

THE ANDORIANS ('Star Trek')
DR. BOMBAY ('Bewitched')
EMMA PEEL ('The Avengers')
THE RIDDLER ('Batman')

After publishing that list, Dr. Bombay was the first to return; making several cameo appearances on the soap opera 'Passions'. Then the blue-skinned Andorians became sort of the featured alien race in 'Enterprise'.

Although I didn't get to see Frank Gorshin don the question mark tights one last time before he passed away, he did show up as the costumed super-villain Clockwise in an episode of 'Black Scorpion'.

With my choice of Emma Peel, I was left wanting. (So expect to read about her in a few minutes.)

With a new year in progress, I thought I'd put together a new list. But this time I'm also adding in suggestions on where in Toobworld they could show up. The following group is listed in order from "most likely to make a return to the airwaves" to "don't hold your breath".

THE MINBARI ('Babylon 5')
After the Andorians, my favorite alien race. Humanoid, and yet distinctly alien, what with that bone ridge that encircled their bald skulls. Their caste society was also of interest, with the priesthood often at odds with the military. And just as is the case with Earthlings, they were individuals in various shades of grey when it came to personalities. (Nothing more boring than alien races of a united mind-step, as is too often seen on 'Doctor Who' - the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, etc.)

They make the top of the list because we may get to see them again in at least two direct-to-DVD movies returning to the world of 'Babylon 5'. Although JMS has said that these first features will focus on the human characters, I think we'll be at the very least seeing Minbari, Centaurians, Narn, Pak-mahr, and the other alien races in the background.

But if I wish really hard and promise to eat all my vegetables, maybe we'll see Bill Mumy return as Lennier!

ZOE HERIOT ('Doctor Who')
Wendy Padbury as Zoe is right up there among my three favorite Companions to the Doctor. (For the record, the other two are Sarah Jane Smith and Leela.) But for this return of her character Zoe to the "Whoniverse", I don't think I'd want to see Ms. Padbury assay the role. To me, it would be just a pale imitation of the far superior episode "School Reunion" from this past season, in which the tenth Doctor was reunited with Sarah Jane.

Besides, the bittersweet way in which the second Doctor was forced to part with Zoe (and Jamie) at the conclusion of "War Games" was already perfect - their memories of him were erased by the Gallifreyan High Council and they were returned to their previous lives just seconds after they left with the Doctor.

Their return in "The Five Doctors" worked because they were just an illusion and the scene didn't violate their original destiny.

Instead, I'd cast someone younger in the role of Zoe, MUCH younger! The Doctor is a time traveler, after all; it's always possible he could visit "The Wheel In Space" at a time when Zoe is no more than ten. She would be meeting the Doctor fresh, this time played by David Tennant. Because he looks different from her last encounter, there would be no reason for her to realize that they had met before once her older self meets the second version as played by Patrick Troughton (my favorite of the Doctors, by the way).

I even have a suggestion for the actress to play Zoe at that young age - Georgie Henley, who played Lucy in "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe" last year. She closely resembles what Wendy Padbury might have looked like at that age. And having a temporary companion at that age gives the kids at home somebody to relate to as she represents them all in an adventure.

'HONEY WEST'
We may have seen the slinky private eye return back in the early 90s, in an episode of the 'Burke's Law' sequel. While investigating a murder at a detectives' convention, Amos Burke and his son Peter met a private eye played by Anne Francis who had everything but the ocelot to suggest that she was Honey West.

But as I remember that episode, she had a different, although very similar name - something like Bunny East, perhaps. However, when checking the IMDb (not always the most reliable source, I'll grant you), I found her listed as "Honey West".

So maybe my wish has already been granted. But if not, there's still a place where she could make her return - in an episode of two of 'Veronica Mars'. I think it would be great to see today's version of the female private eye meet the woman who blazed the trail for her back in the 1960s.

Perhaps she could be a guest lecturer on criminlogy at Hearst?

EMMA PEEL ('The Avengers')
I'm not giving up on this talented amateur! Only now, I have a show in which we she could return once again to fight crime. The BBC is about to launch a show that might be considered a spin-off of 'Spooks' (or 'MI-5' over here in America). If I'm not mistaken, the title is 'MI-5 High' (maybe 'MI-High') and it will be about teenagers being trained to be spies.

It sounds like it's going to be a bit campy.

Dame Diana Rigg could show up as the school's principal, and even if she is never named as such, we could always assume that she is Mrs. Peel. Besides the occasional appearance performing her administrative duties in the school, perhaps she could always take a turn in teaching them gymnastic skills and hand-to-hand combat.

If only for one last chance to see Diana Rigg in a jumpsuit again. (And by the way, I think she still looks great!)

GOTHAM CITY ('Batman')
Gotham City has come back before but not in the architectural form we know from the mid-60s TV show. The version seen in the various animated shows is to be found only in the Tooniverse, while the darker city seen in 'Birds of Prey' has been dispatched to the "evil mirror universe" TV dimension, and is probably an off-shoot of the 1989 feature movie by Tim Burton.

I want to see the Gotham City buildings that were obviously from some studio backlot. Surely there must be some TV show where the characters can at least drive through Gotham City on their way to their actual destination?

Perhaps the brothers in 'Supernatural' could stop off in Gotham City. It's just the name of a town; no need to actually make a connection to 'Batman' and risk the wrath of DC Comics. (Although they'd have the perfect case to investigate there - it's the Toobworld theory that the spirit of the Egyptian goddess Bastet inhabited the body of Julie Newmar's Catwoman after she fell to her death from that underground cliff in an early episode of 'Batman'. When Catwoman returned to the show as played by Julie Newmar [as opposed to the other one played by Eartha Kitt], she was only Selina Kyle in physical form. Her soul was that of Bastet.)

JAMES WEST ('The Wild, Wild West')
While we still have Robert Conrad with us, why can't we get one last chance to see him in action as Secret Service agent James West, even if that action is relegated to taking a back seat as mentor to new agents?
It's been fifteen years at least since the last best opportunity to see Jim West slipped by. He was basically the right age for an appearance in an episode of 'The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr.', and an episode - even better, a two-parter with a cliff-hanger! - at the end of May Sweeps could have helped propel the Bruce Campbell series into a second season.

If James West was to return, the best option would be in a TV movie pilot for a new series. This time, because of his age, the show would have to be set in the years leading up to World War I, if not set during the actual conflict. As such, James T. West could be leading his younger charges in protecting American soil out West from Agents of the Kaiser, and the movie could be used as commentary on the situation we have with the threat of terrorism today in America (home-grown as well as foreign-based).

Among those agents working under his tutelage could be one of his own children, thus keeping the family name of West front and center in the action. As we saw in the first TV movie reunion for 'The Wild, Wild West', West had plenty of illegitimate kids down Mexico way. A son (or even a daughter; I'm not sexist!) could have grown up to follow in his footsteps.

Back in the old Tubeworld Dynamic, I once suggested an actor to play a son of James West - Scott Reeves, who used to play Ryan McNeil on 'The Young & The Restless'. Right look, right height. Should he ever go back to acting after his sojourn in country music, this might be the perfect role for him. (It might also give him the chance to incorporate his style of music into the show.)

FORD PREFECT ('The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy')
This would be the most difficult of all my suggestions for a return engagement. With any of my other suggestions, any writer could be handed the assignment and build on what came before.

But the works of Douglas Adams are treated as gospel by the legion of fans of the late author, and any return to the world of HHG2TG should only be based on what he already created (as was the case with the recent radio serials over on the BBC).

Still, David Dixon's portrayal of the "man" from Betelgeuse (not Guilford) was so infectious that I'd love to see him take on the role again a quarter century later.

But this would be my "don't hold your breath" option.

At the very least, I think he should be a candidate in the running for the next regeneration of the Doctor once David Tennant walks away from 'Doctor Who'. There was always something Gallifreyan in the wardrobe and personality quirks of his Ford Prefect. I wouldn't be surprised in fact if they knew each other well. After all, we know from "The Christmas Invasion" that the Doctor knew Arthur Dent!

So there you have it, my list of TV characters I'd like to see come back to the small screen. At least for this year.

Who would you like to see make a return engagement? Let me know!

BCnU!
Tele-Toby

1 comment:

Nickt said...

Wikipedia lists Anne Francis as Honey West in that sequel to Burke's Law. TV.com lists her as Honey Best. So it should be easy enough for you to spin it so that "Best" was her married name.

As for who I'd like to see return to TV, most of my choices are no longer possible because the actors have passed away. But I would like to see Ed Asner as Lou Grant one last time.