4 Directors Who Should Inspire Anthology TV Series
If you haven’t been watching the TV series version of “Fargo” then you are really missing out. It is one of the funniest, most interesting, more thrilling, most unique show on TV. Colin Hanks, one of the stars of the first season, was recently a guest on the Harmontown podcast where he described the series as if someone took the work of the Coen brothers and used the Marvel shared universe strategy to recreate it. The host, Dan Harmon, rightfully said that it was a horrible idea on paper and really shouldn’t work anywhere near as well as it does in execution. Yet here we are. With movies being repurposed into TV shows left and right, it seems like a much more interesting idea to craft an anthology series around the general recurring themes, styles, and motifs of some of Hollywood’s coolest directors. Now that I think of it, the “From Dusk Till Dawn” tv series kind of has that going on with Robert Rodriguez. Here are some other directors I think would be cool.
Spielberg is one of the more prolific directors still working. Although it is well-known that at one point during his career (Schindler’s List), his style generally took on a more serious and less colorful tone, Spielberg can’t live down the kinds of movie he got his start making (and not just him, it includes a number of movies he produced as the founder of Amblin Entertainment). They were these incredible adventure movies of varying sizes with really high stakes that were able to pass as family movies thanks to either good-humored heroes (Indiana Jones, Jaws), childlike perspective (ET, The Goonies, Super 8), or a kooky just-left-of-center sense of humor (Gremlins, Arachnophobia, Who Framed Roger Rabbit). I would love to see those aspects played out in a ’80s thrillride kind of show that includes old-fashioned small towns and nostalgic Cold War sci-fi imagery played for optimism and hope instead of cynicism and paranoia.
Suggested title: Amblin’
Wes Anderson got his start like any would-be indie auteur might, with a kooky crime caper set to his own peculiar kind of sense of humor. Since then, he has evolved by constructing sincere family dramas inside of candy-colored dollhouse-like sets and then blurred that reality with a sense of humor that has only gotten more and more peculiar. Not quite absurd, the humor always seems to make sense, but the timing is like nothing else in cinema. His dry-wit and whimsy seem like they might contradict one another, but they enhance what would otherwise be incredibly simplistic adventures. And what is modern television than a dressing up of family issues? “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad” aren’t really about the mob or drug dealers. Those are just elements to keep you from getting bored. They are both about families, their dysfunctions, and their connections. Anderson’s recurring themes would be right at home on the small screen and give a decent jolt to TV comedy, which is almost never as interesting or nuanced as it could be.
Suggested title: Moonrise Kingdom
John Carpenter is one of the most influential horror directors and one of my favorites. His tailor-made synth score, vilifying of societal issues, and well-placed enthusiastic shlock have inspired each generation of horror filmmakers since the 80s. He didn’t just scare the pants off us. He captured the way that the ’80s were a hangover from ’70s. He even depicted the yuppies as just another counter-culture movement and the rise in fatty, manufactured entertainment as complacency-inducing propaganda, specifically with They Live. His style even extends to a few other 80s brethren like Repo Man, a great sister film to They Live, and Night of the Comet, which uses a Carpenter-esque makeover to make up for some of its B-movie failings. That kind of nuance is missing from horror, especially the horror on TV, which I find to be more style than substance. A Carpenter inspired anthology could be both style AND substance.
Suggested title: They Live
Raised in New York City to Sicilian immigrants, Scorsese, for better or worse, exemplified Americana, born of a foreign culture to cut his own path here. I say for better or worse because he is infamous for his violence, but in that violence are often ignored metaphors for faith, guilt, redemption, and forgiveness. His heroes and villains are not vampires, lusting after blood (well, maybe Wolf of Wall Street was), they are tragic in every sense of the word. They are vehicles for a certain level of cultural tribalism that seems more and more relevant as hot-button issues continue to be divisive. A Scorsese-inspired anthology may have missed the boat on the “TV anti-hero” boom, but the TV landscape should have no problem supporting a tragedy that is more than just a weekly parade of cop melodrama. The hypothetical soundtrack alone has me excited.
Suggested title: Mean Streets