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I don't watch television much nowadays. Procedural cop shows are so, well, procedural they quickly bore me and every other programs seems to focus primarily on forced relationship dramatics or just upping the ante of violence and exploitation. 
Maybe that's the bag of everyone else on the planet except me (wouldn't be a surprise) but at least in my opinion it would be fantastic to see more shows that catered to the concept of characterization, interesting new worlds to explore, and ongoing tales that developed instead of contracted or floundered or pushed the magic reset button every single episode to restore the status quo.
Here's some suggestions my Summer heat-addled mind came up with for show concepts I'd actually watch with some regularity.
Maybe there's shows past or present that follow these ideas? If so I'd love to hear about them!


10: Weird World 

Sometimes the world can be weird. Not quite science fiction or fantasy, just odd and unconventional. A lot of cult favorites, whether they are books, video games, films or a spare few television shows, gained that status by challenging the notion that all genres are based on the same premises. Consider the game series Zeno Clash which ostensively takes place in a savage semi-fantasy location but is never implicitly named as the past, present or future of any known reality. Things are just...odd, and purposefully so. People dress outlandishly, inexplicable creatures are everywhere, and although there's logic that ties the world together it's logic that isn't dependent upon the stranger choices of aesthetics such as your primary firearm being the 'fish gun' and the story revolving around a hermaphrodite who kidnaps children and an insane tribe of creatures from across the world who perform outlandish actions because they believe doing so is their purpose for living in the first place. Another production that had this idea of a self-evidently bizarre world is the classic Beyond Good and Evil. Here humans and animal/human hybrids live on a planet of mostly water with some scattered islands and the plot revolves around an alien conspiracy. There may be a deeper backstory behind all of this but the story of the game depends very little on explaining it. Jade the reporter and main character is relatable even if her world is crazy compared to our own with future technology and strange flora and fauna.
It's a unique experience just to see the intricacies of her world while unraveling her story so there's rarely a dull moment; and since everyone in the story treats the most madcap aspects of their world as routine it's easier for the audience to reconcile them with an internal reality the characters are experiencing. It's easier to take anthropomorphic characters seriously when the humans never really find them that odd and treat them like a part of their every day lives.
I think it would be a MASSIVE risk, but one I'd try to support tooth and nail if a television series, or maybe on online web series presented a non-traditional genre setting for a show. Imagine if every episode the strange and bizarre would happen but intrinsically because the world of the show itself was off kilter. Watching that show would seem like visiting a new place with new experiences even if the characters don't actively go looking for them every time.

9: Post-Post Apocalyptic

In show terms this kind of production usually means DIRECTLY after an apocalypse. Shows like Jericho and Jeremiah and Revolution and to a lesser extent The Walking Dead show characters wandering through the relatively recent ruins of a destroyed civilization, bemoaning the loss of easy living and periodically getting into shoot outs or searching for supplies. That can be entertaining somewhat.
But what I'D like to see is a full on Mad Max scenario.
The world has evolved, perhaps in an unrealistic way but in one that's stylish and wondrous and wild. Society has crumbled, been rediscovered and put back together but in an entirely new way. The radiation has died down and now people can begin to live again, but live in a world they need to rediscover. Little armored settlements spot the land as well as enormous fortified cities and the new professions of hunters, craftsmen, mercenaries, and even just adventurers have become popular now that the new world is somewhat stabilized. Fallout is definitely an inspiration here, but more like Fallout 4 than Fallout 1-3. The wasteland is still out there to explore but it's no longer as much of a dreary, dead place. It's a vibrant world reclaimed by nature: the remnants of the old world lying in wait for those brave enough to search them out and loot their valuable artifacts. 
Sets and costumes and the like wouldn't be too expensive. All you need is ruins and everyday clothing like any classic post-apocolyptic concept, but the difference would be that the world has become like a post-modern medieval society. People aren't griping about survival: they're joining into parties to make discoveries for the glory of their factions, they're investigating old world ruins for medical and scientific advances lost to the new world, they're perhaps encountering robots from the post-war period to retrofit into useful companions, or mad war bots they need to battle. Perhaps there's mutant animals to contend with as well with their own fanciful adaptations such as chameleon invisibility or hard shells that can deflect bullets.
I'd love to see a production in which the main characters weren't constantly bickering, or if they were it was about something more than just being inconvenienced. If the characters were part of an exploratory team they'd be more professional, skillful, self sufficient, always have a goal in mind, and work together. None of the alien beauty of a new world would be lost, but a great deal more time in the show could be spent investigating its mysteries instead of arguing over food.  

8: PsychoScape

I love metaphors that have a tenable quality compared to the rest of a story.
Silent Hill 2 is like one long personification of one man's deep-seated psychological issues, but brought to life as a literal journey through judgement in the form of Hell itself. It's a story told twice: one with the horrifying imagery around the character and his attempts to circumvent and escape it and the other with his slow realization that these monsters and locations are not at all random and each represents an aspect of his own past. This kind of thing can come across as pretentious, but the word 'pretentious' specifically means 'not saying anything although it pretends its saying a lot'. Silent Hill at its best doesn't have this problem with every aspect of it tailored to be associated with the internal story of the characters involved. 
So why not have a show along similar lines? Perhaps literally a character is capable of perceiving the manifest psyches of people. A person who suffers from insecurity could have surrounding them a monster who is constantly whispering admonishments to them and pricking them with the needles lining it's body like a constant reminder of inferiority. Someone who is psychotic could be accompanied invisibly by a charismatic but monstrous figure who instructs them how to do their crimes and provides justifications, relishing in their wicked deeds just as their 'host' is. 
These psyches are not the 'people' exactly, they're more like the mental influences (sometimes self created) which they've allowed to define them. The host may even become aware of these manifestations; even fight to defend them. 
So this hypothetical person capable of perceiving these manifestations might be able to combat them or even converse with them using her own psyche. This psyche could grow, change, and even become corrupted in the presence of others. It would be an interesting morality play if the person capable of challenging damaged psyches could only cure or repair these by taking some dark aspect of these wayward souls into her own mind. Gaze not into the abyss or the abyss gazes back into you sort of thing.
Also what happens if by changing a psyche you change the person? When you 'defeat' a psyche does it leave someone without that mental prop they relied on? If someone has a fearful disposition and that is destroyed the person may ironically become very depressed because they've lived with that fear so long it began to feel like a part of themselves. And maybe the protagonist would have to struggle with the outcome of her use or abuse of her powers. In some instances she might try and tinker with a psyche for her own ends or end up changing a person for the worse with the best of intentions.
And to get really fancy imagine if a person's psyche isn't only a manifest object or being, it's an entire landscape. Everyone has their internal world where their secrets are literally locked away and guarded, where their own worldview has defined the way the 'inhabitants' live and think. Someone suffering from arrogance may depict in their minds a world in which everyone is lockstep with their own perspective and literally worshipping the owner of the mind as a god. Someone with multiple personality disorder may have a world split into two warring societies.  
I think if it wasn't treated as a joke this could be a very atmospheric and intriguing production. 

7: True Fantasy/ Sci-Fi Adventure

An honest to goodness fully catalogued and considered science fiction or fantasy universe would be fantastic. Firefly had the beginnings of a universe planned out but a little too often it slipped into making fun of the genre rather than embodying it. The Legend of The Seeker portrayed such a cliche and thoughtless fantasy universe it was impossible to care about for me. Game of Thrones has a fantasy universe but the problem I have is that it's not an interesting one: highly generic and with no interesting people except for the ruling families who are principally interesting because they are constantly backstabbing each other. 
What I'd like to see is a genre production in which the world was treated with some integrity and respect. In the Dragon Age series the world feels fleshed out and real despite the wacky things that happen in it because there's some kind of logic and thought about how things work. In Legend of The Seeker the wizard Zed throws fireballs around because...that's what he does. In Dragon Age series wizards gain there powers by traveling into another dimension and making pacts with demons. That takes the boring idea of magic and makes it into a fully developed and interesting new concept. Mass Effect as well took the most dull and uninteresting aspects of science fiction and made them fresh and new by treating them somewhat seriously. What if 'blasters' weren't just inexplicable laser guns but they instead fired particles using the same mass field technology that powered the jump gates used throughout the story? What if the super-combative single minded alien warrior race had actually be genetically developed to be warriors in the first place...and were suffering from an ailment coded into them by their creators which could lead to their extinction?
Lets have MORE thought but into genre work, not less. I mentioned in previous entries that I like it when people in the stories take things for granted, but the WRITER should not. In Firefly there's a heist involving the world's fire laser gun. Cool and all, but why haven't we ever seen any other laser guns if this is 'the first'? Why is it only one of two left? Has it really been that long? We still have plenty of flintlock pistols lying around and those were made over a century ago. It's an example I feel of an idea which is interesting in theory but has very little thought involved when you scratch below the surface.
On the other side of the coin is something like Final Fantasy Seven in which EVERYTHING is explained, but not always directly on screen. The Buster sword of Cloud Strife has an in universe explanation which is provided. The super powers of the members of SOLDIER ties into the plot. It may seem like backstory is unimportant and it can become really wordy if you spend the unnecessary time blabbing on about it, but if it is there and it is thoughtful it's the difference between developing a world and just tossing out and ideas and hoping that they stick.

6: Creepypasta/ SCP/ The Holders

WHY ISN'T THIS A THING YET?
We don't have near enough spooky shows on television, and those we do have tend to rely on gore over any kind of genuine unnerving feeling. 
Creepypasta for those who don't know is a play on the term 'copy-pasta' or 'copy-paste' which refers to people in forums who take blocks of text telling a joke or a story and sharing it wholesale. Creepypastas are those except designed specifically to be disturbing and scary. In essence they are internet era ghost stories or more accurately urban legends: anything from invented serial killers to strange phenomena or even twisted takes on childhood icons.
And therein lies the genius of this idea as a television or online series.
You wouldn't need to copy-paste creepypastas of old to get the same sensibility translated into an episodic show. Like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits or Tales from The Crypt, or anthology movies like Body Bags, Creepshow, and Nightmares each separate episode could be a self contained spooky vignette. This saves you from the horrors of an episodic show with series continuity. There is nothing quite so immersion breaking as having everything have to return back to normal at the end of an episode just so people can watch the show in any order, but spook stories have the advantage of telling their stories and wrapping up and moving on. You have the advantage of main characters being able, in fact almost being guaranteed, to die which is more than most other shows can claim. If there is continuity it could be with the cursed objects or monsters and killers concerned. Slender Man for instance could show up in multiple stories but those stories could take place in many different times and concern many different people. 
Throw in some kind of host and you could bring back one of my favorite genres that's all but dead nowadays: the variety show. I think the host should be some kind of gently stereotypical basement dweller conspiracy theorist whose sharing these 'true' stories online so that people will finally believe him when he says that all is not as it seems. There could even be series duration skits involving the host in which he sets up episodes to correspond with a theme so he can work out a mystery or maybe he thinks (and could be right about the fact) that he's being stalked by a Creepypasta denizen. 
Imagine a show you could tune into and you could see comedy, horror, adventure, mystery...anything the writer's pleased and sometimes all in the same block of episodes. One moment you could be shivering in the wake of a tale about Jeff the Killer and the next chuckling at a parody of Creepypastas with it's only eerie twist. 
If not Creepypasta other great choices for shows would be SCP (Secure Contain Protect) which concerns strange objects and creatures being hunted down and catalogued by a mysterious organization, and The Holders which concerns a series of artifacts with strange powers only obtainable through bizarre rituals and trails, all of which may collectively lead to the end of the world. 
Someone's going to do it, and if they don't they ought to.

5: The Silent Protectors

An organization is started to beat back the encroaching threat of something with worldwide implications but which can never be officially acknowledge for fear of starting wide scale panic. Be it aliens, monsters, a secret society the organization begun long ago has been combating its influence, sometimes in straight up battles but other times in subtler ways like infiltration, sabotage, and even negotations with unsavory elements. These people are highly trained in their civilian fields as well as proving to have a knack for their new, unusual calling and although from many different backgrounds they are drawn together by the necessity of defeating a common threat and keeping their fight a secret at all costs.
But as time goes on the organization runs into several concerns, some even as pressing as confronting the enemy influence.
For one thing the political ties of the protectors is questioned. Do they work for any one national interest? Do they support no country or cause since they stand for mankind? When their work nets them developed weaponry and devices do they turn over their discoveries to anyone or keep them secured for their own use? Do their backers demand compensation even though they are fighting for the good of all?
And when does intervention become occupation? The organization has been forced on occasion to use extreme methods, and sometimes they make mistakes. Would so many innocents suffer if the organization began to use the same tactics as their enemies and use secreted control to manipulate the world stage to their advantage? Anyone could be in the employ of the enemy so is everyone a threat?
And living and dying in secret is a difficult thing to do. Are there some who would abandon their missions in order to be recognized as heroes? Are there some who would change sides if they felt the organization was destined to lose the fight? Are there some who would defy orders to maintain enemy inventions and enemies themselves instead of destroying them: hoping to understand the foe better then ever before?
And what if the enemy has their own anti-organization: trained and highly skillful members with the sole directive of making their opposition pay for interfering?
Sort of like Men in Black meets X-Files I was thinking. 

4: Den of Thieves

It's a time of chaos: but in chaos there is opportunity.
The industrial revolution has arrived and with it an upheaval in day to day life. The owners of invention patents and factories have gotten wealthy beyond the dreams of anyone in times before and the line between rich and poor has expanded. The plague has ripped through some areas and left them barren, creating an escalating problem that threatens the rich and poor alike. Neighboring kingdoms are gathering their strength, perhaps for impending warfare on a scale never before conceived.
But The Thieves Guild cares little for politics or anything beyond the immediate job at hand.
What was once the brainchild of an enterprising young ruffian has become an underground society for the training and coordinating of destitute people who have decided to abandon the law in order to survive. Only with the backing of this guild can they hope to pull off the most lucrative escapades: infiltrating the castles of nobility or deactivating the cunning devices that defend the wealth of entire companies.
But ever thief must make an oath of secrecy, of fidelity. Punishment for failure is bad, but punishment for ratting out a member of the guild is always death. And if you take what you steal without returning it you will be hunted. 
At some point morality seeps into the equation. How do you in good conscience return to the guild your cargo if that mark is a young noble's daughter, kidnapped and being auctioned into slavery? What if the mark is medicines taken from an apothecary to be used to create poison in order to fight a shadow war with another rising thieves guild?
Can you even participate in the assassination of a guard captain whose only crime was dedication to his job and capturing a key thief in the process?
And as time goes on more worrisome developments take place. The potentially invading kingdoms have begun extending their feelers into the meanest parts of the kingdom and are enlisting guild members for great sums to sabotage their own kingdom, kill their own nobles and disrupt their own military. Is it worth it to keep to the code of survival?
And what if the thieves discovers devices being built for an internal takeover? Are these even safe enough to steal or fence? Will the thieves guild become something more?
Or will they endure like they always have with the will, the tact, and the reckless determination to snatch, dart, and return what they're sent to without question, without discouragement, and without being seen?

3: Non-Human Show

It's not easy to do, not at all, but what about a show that focused on something other than humans?
You could anthropomorphize the characters still to a certain degree, but how many people out there are fans of stories like The Warriors about tribes of cats or the Silverwing series about tribes of bats? The video game Tokyo Jungle had the concept of a world after the extinction of mankind in which animals of many different kinds were struggling for survival. Of course the popularity of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic I'd argue comes from the in this time fairly unique idea of a world inhabited by something other than humans so their problems are...or rather WERE...not just human problems. 
(I'm not going to get into the recent changes to the show or I'll just get mad XD)
If animals isn't your cup of tea, how about Robots? How cool would it be to have a show in which EVERY character was a sentient, or even semi-sentient robot? The video game Scrapland investigated this idea, and the movie 9 postulated the same notion only with very small robots scrambling around a post-apocolyptic city. Robots would be intriguing because of the way their society would be like ours but radically different. 'Death' would have a different meaning entirely when they might be capable of functioning without limbs or entire sections of their bodies as long as their minds remained intact, and they could easily swap out limbs for different functions and survive under conditions it would be impossible for a human to.
For something even crazier imagine a world of monsters. Some installments of the video game series Legacy of Kain presents a world mostly inhabited by vampires. The dynamics between them remain similar to humans but with many differences such as vampires having ranks based on their evolutions, vampires not dying entirely after death but becoming vengeful soul reavers, and vampires have a unique connection to the Pillars of Nosgoth which control the fate of the world. Something that might have been generic fantasy with humans involved becomes much more interesting when the majority of characters are close enough to being human we can relate them but still so alien they're fascinating to watch.
Imagine a series following the adventures of elves or dwarves instead of just one of each accompanying a generic human hero around. People can relate to things that aren't just other people as long as they can recognize human emotions in those other things. As kids we could enjoy series about creatures that were hybrids of two animals in the Wuzzles and Muppet Babies, Tiny Toon Adventures, Little Bear, The Busy World of Richard Scary and so forth had entirely inhuman societies and worlds of anthropomorphic animals. We seem under the impression that anthropomorphic are only for children and I think that entirely misses the point of the idea behind them.
In Secret of The NIMH and Watership Down (both borderline adult stories in both the book and film) the characters are mostly inhuman, but because of this allow us to look at ourselves without preconceived notions. We can focus directly on our animal natures: recognizing our emotions, our reactions, or choices reflected in other creatures. That's an adult idea, not strictly one for children.
So yes it would be difficult, but wouldn't it be fascinating to see a production in which we experienced stories through inhuman eyes for once?

2: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Survival

You're lost in the wilderness and need to quickly make a camp, find food and water, and some way to keep warm in the cold night ahead.
Also you need to fashion some kind of rudimentary weapon before that dragon comes back.
There's a lot of shows about survival from the perspective of someone in a 'real life' scenario which is all very interesting, but why has no one applied this concept to someone in a genre setting? Even Lost was just a handful of fantastic elements slapped onto a scenario which was practically mundane. Which missed the point in my opinion. What interested me in Lost wasn't the obtuse mysteries, it was the potential danger these people were in. Something giant is knocking over trees inland. That's ominous and interesting; I sure hope these actually find out what it is and maybe make plans as to what to do with it!
Nope. Like so many elements in Lost this was just a one-off cliffhanger thing.
But what if a show laid it's cards on the table from the beginning. An interstellar explorer crash lands on a strange planet or a warrior in a fantasy world is dragged into the woods by monstrous enemy creatures and left to die at the mercy of the wilds. We know we're in a genre story now so something like monsters or magic or weird alien sights won't just be something that shows up briefly and has no point.
Now that little fantastic elements are PART of the story.
How nifty would it be to tune into a program and watch our beleaguered fantasy warrior decide he's going to kill a manticore for food and hide so he spends the episode designing a spear and a shield from whatever he can find? The episode ends with him confronting the beast and finally defeating it, but he's gotten stabbed by it's poisonous tail so now he needs to use the strange plants around him to quickly develop a cure. Or maybe our space explorer stumbles across a pool of water with an alien monster in it and he needs to come up with a way of luring it out so he can claim the water for his own needs?
Each episode of this projected series doesn't need to have more than one major on screen character: the survivor. The settings could be as mundane as a forest, but because of the genre at play there would always be something new and strange to interact with. A space explorer could discover intelligent carnivorous plants that lay traps while a fantasy survivor could find mischievous sprites that mislead him when he goes to hunt but might be convinced to grant a boon...if they're in the mood for it.
The stories could expand beyond the survival scenario based on the backstories. Maybe the space explorer discovers an alien device or ruin and others arrive to try and take it for themselves. The fantasy warrior may want to return to the war he was fighting initially, now armed with knowledge hard learned in the wilderness.
Bear Grylls meets Enemy Mine meets Monster Hunter.
I'd buy that for MORE than a dollar! 

1: Wagon-Train to the Stars

I miss Star Trek.
I miss having a show I could tune into and see something always happening. On Walking Dead I can almost guarantee that NOTHING will be happened. On NCIS the same thing happens over and over again. On Penny Dreadful or Game of Thrones or Black Sails something is usually happening but it's random and usually involves people killing or shouting at each other.
On Star Trek I could anticipate something designed into each episode that would hold my interest. Some kind of new planet would be discovered to visit or something would go wrong with the ship or a character would be required to attend a social function or an alien race would confront the crew. Until the woeful Enterprise you were practically guaranteed that every episode of Trek, even the bad ones, would have SOMETHING going on because the show had the entire universe to play with. Enterprise mistook the term 'realistic' for 'boring'. Yes it's probably more realistic for aliens to be largely uninteresting, for planets to have nothing on them, and for the crew to spend most of the time sleeping and eating...BUT THAT'S NOT INTERESTING.
What is interesting is Captain Picard dealing with Q, the omnipotent being who tries to determine the worthiness of mankind through his reality bending games that are always rigged; Captain Kirk negotiating a settlement between alien races that have been warring for years or encountering a derelict spaceship on which the crew has died under mysterious circumstances; Captain Janeway encountering a planet under the authoritarian control of a sentient computer; Captain Sisko strategizing on ongoing war while weighing the cost of lives against the greater cost if the war was lost. It's a little on the crazy side, but at least something was always HAPPENING.
It was science fiction: it was allowed to craft ridiculous scenarios if they were entertaining and they had some kind of theme to investigate.
Dr. Who is the closest we have no to a science fiction adventure show and although shades of Star Trek are there it doesn't have nearly the dynamic of the 'crew on board a space ship' show. I miss having the idea of a group of characters all with their own roles and histories on board a vessel we got to know as a character. Again, Firefly accomplished this VERY WELL with The Serenity having quite the unique look and personality. I watched and still watch that show to see the ship as much as the crew.
Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek as 'A Wagon-Train to the Stars'.
His idea was to take the concepts of Wild West exploration and transpose it into the future. Everyone onboard The Enterprise had their own function which was applicable to a western equivalent, even down to their names. Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy is nicknamed that because of 'saw-bones' which was a literal term for the function of a doctor in pioneering days. The idea, too long neglected, was that these spaceships were meant to be exploring strange new worlds while the crew developed alongside their journeys. For all it's episodic nature, Star Trek could often transcend the limitations of the need to maintain a status quo by subtly advancing the main cast. Kirk changes throughout the series along with his crew, becoming more worldly and less cocky. The others develop into their niche roles but expand beyond them with Spock discovering his heritage, McCoy falling in and out of love, Uhura becoming as much an ambassador as a technician and so forth. 
So...where's our space exploration shows?
Battlestar Gallactica the remake had space ships just so they could shoot at each other. No one had any time to explore anything. Other attempts to resurrect the Star Trek like show have almost always been parodies of Star Trek itself or just so slavishly devoted to the original series they come across as spoofs even if they take themselves seriously. You don't need constant conflict in order to sustain the interest of a show. There were group discussions and disagreements for every Enterprise crew, but they were still companions and still friends when all was said and done.
The goal was in their motto: 'To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before'
Why then are the recent films convinced that all Star Trek ever was could be defined as flying around and shooting at things? That was the LEAST interesting aspect of any of the series!
StarGate put a great twist on this ideal and it earned a strong following for years.
Early shows like Lexx, Farscape and Blake's 9 still have a cult following and Firefly as mentioned is still being clamored for a resurrection. Every time the space ship style exploration show has shown up it's greeted with excitement, support, and viewership. Enterprise failed I'd say because it ignored those aspects: the ship wasn't interesting and the crew never explored anything.
But for some reason we haven't gotten another good wagon train to the stars in what feels like forever.
If we can have a show based on Game of Thrones, if we can have a show about Penny Dreadfuls and super heroes we sure as heck can get some sci-fi back on the air that isn't just a cop shop with laser guns. Maybe we could adapt a classic sci-fi book like The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov or the sprawling Hyperion saga by Dan Simmons featuring a galactic war between aliens and a divide humanity. Maybe adapt a video game series like Bungie's Marathon featuring a millennium space ship or maybe even FTL in which an intrepid crew battles the perils of space and the insidious rebellion alike.
Whatever happens just let me watch space ships on TV again please? :(
More than half of content proposed, even for big studios, tends to end up sidelined to the point that it's amazing whenever any film or video game actually sees the light of day. Length of time and effort and money and invitation in development is no defense against a studio going bankrupt or new owners giving a long hoped for production the axe. This vaporware or material that never quite saw the light of day can sometimes be very sorely missed: sequels to classics that might have revitalized a franchise, new ideas, and just generally fun concepts sometimes sidelined for pretty mediocre but unfortunately better selling products.
Sometimes they get picked up, sometimes they're gone forever, but here's a few examples that came to my mind thinking over this subject to myself...
It's 90 degrees in Seattle. I need SOMETHING to get my mind off the heat XD

10: World of Darkness Online



The classic roleplaying series was going to be developed rather stylishly in a format every fan had wanted to see but no one had yet attended: a fully fledged online role playing video game. Imagine a game where you could play as a vampire, a werewolf, perhaps even a ghost or a changeling and live the night life as a disguised human while fighting for power in the shadows in a centuries old conflict between factions and races. This might have been the only MMORPG in which civilians were not only quest givers but also sources of energy as vampires lured mortals into dark places to feed upon them, werewolves rended flesh, and changelings absorbed their dreams. 
This was an ambitious project and looks pretty darn good. Ambition tends to be the bane of this kind of grand scheme however, especially if the managing partners determine that the fan base of this idea is just too much of a gamble for a polished project of this scale. 
World of Darkness was quietly canceled and nothing related to the concept has been in the works since.

9: Beyond Good and Evil 2



A sleeper hit was set to make a big return with this little teaser showing two familiar cult characters in glorious high definition and eventually even some gameplay footage. Speculation ran rampant but like so many niche productions this one has since gone the way of all things. 
Beyond Good and Evil was not exactly a well received or high earning game release but it was so unique and clearly crafted with care that it gained a lot of critical approval and fan support. The sequel (never actually officially announced technically) looked to reintroduce a rare female character who spent much of her time avoiding conflict or snap snap-shotting evidence rather then blasting bad guys. The promise of a graphical update to the already unique setting was a promising one.
But in the end it seems that the reason Ubisoft was so quiet about announcing this game was either they never intended for it to be more than a tech demo, they got tired of the production and dropped it, or it seemed to similar to the popular Uncharted series. Who knows.
It would be nice to revisit the oddball world of Jade and friends but it may be a long time come, if it ever does. 

8: Justice League: Mortal



The man who directed this almost made The Justice League movie.
George Miller was one of the many directors given a glance, but he also got the closest to rounding up his own cast and producing a film tentatively called rather intriguingly Justice League: Mortal.
Rather than a Batman/Superman film the production would have introduced the entire League lineup (including Aquaman!) as if they'd been in operation for awhile, dealing with the recent threat of Maxwell Lord: a psychic with a chip on his shoulder because of unspeakable government sponsored experiments that turned him into the very thing he now despises: a super hero.
According to those who read the script there was actually little to no deconstruction involved in the writing of this film. Every hero acted heroically and approached their roles without irony. Superman even showed remorse for his failure in Metropolis. Costumes were actually uncharacteristically for the movie versions colorful and comic book accurate. 
Apparently the world demanded a movie where Batman and Superman fight each other though so instead of Miller we now have Zach Synder back in the director's chair. I like Zach, but wouldn't it have been nice to have a movie about super heroes with actual bright colors and creative action?

7: Batman: Gotham by Gaslight



Steampunk Batman.
STEAMPUNK BATMAN.
We almost got a game where our favorite caped crusader beat up cockney ruffians, used a pneumatic grapnel gun, had an AWESOME operatic cape, and his main foe was the elusive Jack the Ripper. 
I don't know about you but this look so much more fun and interesting than Assassins Creed: This Time You're In London Doing the Same Old Thing.  
But the company couldn't secure the license and no one has yet seemed to try out a true Elseworlds style D.C game. How cool would it be to play a video game where The Joker was a good guy or it was all your favorite Gothamites...but in a Noir setting?
Probably too risky I suppose. Except after Batman: Arkham Knight either more sequels or prequels to come to capitalize on the franchise, not expand it.
I'd pay good money to play any character with a cape this cool. 

6: Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun



Speaking of creatures of the night...
The seminal series Legacy of Kane was going to get a continuation courtesy Square Enix who had successfully resurrected Deus Ex. Like Gotham by Gaslight this game sold me on the premise.
Post Apocalyptic Vampries.
And not post apocalyptic like Mad Max or Fallout. This had the rather unique angle of a medieval world plunged into a savage lawless time by the threads of fate itself unraveling. Vampires and humans wage endless brutal combat while a new generation, a 'legacy' if you will, of bloodsuckers seeks for a more decisive end to a centuries long war. 
Seriously cool idea, nifty looking new protagonist with great vampire powers, and a nice twist to the by now pretty tired third person brawler since you could stick to walls, suck blood, and bash massive things out of the way with your supernatural strength. 
Nosgoth came out and eclipsed this project. It's much easier and more lucrative to make a multiplayer game without a storyline and micro transactions. 

5: Prey 2



I remember I was over the moon with this announcement a few years ago.

'This is a good example of actually DOING something with your ideas. Alien corridor shooters getting boring? Then set it in an alien city instead! Cowboy games sort of samey? Make your cowboy a jet boot wearing laser pistol wielding dispenser of justice. This is a great example of mixing two disparate genres and treating both with integrity. The trailer doesn't make the aliens funny or the cowboy stereotypical, but it incorporates both ideas into a smooth and almost believable mix for something we haven't seen before.'
- Me July 4th 2011

But apparently the heyday of FPS has come and gone or internal conflicts spelled the end of this promising concept. No word for years and then a quiet little admittance that this trailer was all that ever really saw the light of day.

4: Blue Planet



Especially given how Pixar is rapidly becoming the CGI sequel machine of Disney, this kind of backlash against their selling out is more prescient then ever. Once upon a time a small studio set out to make their own independent computer animated feature film with a high concept science fiction storyline and although it could probably never have been a colossal hit the trailer said it all: CGI doesn't have to be for kids all the time. Animation in general can tell any kind of story, and it doesn't have to be Japan that has a Monopoly on adult animation.
But with it quietly slipping into obscurity no one has tried something that went against the grain this hard. People call nowadays the renaissance of animation because of Frozen. 
I think that I'd rather have seen a sub conflict between humans and aliens on a submerged Earth rather than yet another rehash of Tangled.

3: P.T Silent Hills




A first person resurrection of the most recognized name in survival horror helmed in part by macabre enthusiast Guillermo Del Toro? People couldn't be hyped enough for this rebirth of a series that had been languishing in mediocrity. Silent Hills gave you a single level, a 'playable teaser' (PT) which was composed of a single realistically rendered hallway, and packed it with enough scares to make it an instant sensation for a new generation of 'lets play' fans with people challenging each other just to open that next door leading into the darkness or turning around to witness what horrific changes had happened in the scenery. 

2: Star Wars 1313



As if losing the venerable LucasArts company wasn't hard enough after it was bought by Disney, this game that was coming along nicely was outright slain to make way for more cost effective casual uses of the license. Rumored to be a game in which you played through the early career of Boba Fett this looked like fun action/adventure set in a grungier area of the Star Wars universe then we were used to.
All that work I guess wasn't worth the risk compared to online apps and shovel-ware.

1: Bioshock



No this isn't the real trailer it's one I made, but it reflects I think what almost could have been.
Gore Verbinski who brought his own darkness to the Pirates of the Caribbean series almost brought the living classic Bioshock to the screen and as a fan he would have done it with accuracy and with the same level of violence and maturity as the game was famous for.
The reason it was not to be? He wanted to make it rated R. No studio thought that would pay off.
This was the closest we got to a video game movie worth a damn. 
Now, with Agent 47 practically throwing up it's hands and saying 'all video game films are circus shows' it seems like Gore's pet project was the last gasp of any legitimacy offered to the crossover between the small and bigger screens.
Well...we can always hope for another, better day :)

"Don't you think one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both parties?"

- From Stanley Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'

---

I love a good mystery. 

The nice thing about good mysteries is that all of the evidence is there to allow the average armchair detective to determine the answer, and when the outcome rolls around it all makes sense because the clues were always there to see. A bad mystery in my opinion is one in which you haven't a chance. Characters do things that don't make any sense. Red herring clues are introduced that impact the plot to the point that the plot breaks down under scrutiny. Crucial information is ignored or obscured.  It's like a game you can't win, not because you didn't play it correctly or with skill, but because the rules were told to you wrongly.

That's called cheating.

But in filmmaking, in writing and in other forms of media cheating tends to be called something else. 

'Art'.

When its done well the film can outlive it's own runtime. 

In the movies Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick the production is a deliberately crafted puzzle box. The dialogue, the locations, the directing the music is all carefully chosen to create parallels and riddles and even jokes that are for the most part intentional determinations by Kubrick himself. Take the quote above. The mention is made to 'both parties' which can refer to two people involved in marriage, but it's also a play on words. There are two parties, as in gatherings of people, involved in the film as well and both are rife with people lying about themselves and concealing things. 

Rather ingeniously Kubrick has made a line which summarized the concept of Eyes Wide Shut as a film: a story that can be take in two different ways with equal clarity. If you want to watch Eyes Wide Shut as a marital drama and suspense movie then that's perfectly fine, but there are underlying subliminal additions that hint at other intended meanings, which are fully meaningful to the director himself who oftentimes without ambiguity would include double meanings and call-backs and symbols in his films.

But the key to Kubrick's films I feel is not just the inclusion of hidden meanings, it's the tying of those meanings into a narrative which makes sense by itself. The Shining, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut all contain surface stories that are methodical and logical and satisfying without any subtext required to understand them. On further inspection in The Shining the hotel in which the horror movie takes place is actually impossible with corridors deliberately portrayed to go nowhere and windows and doors placed in scenes where they couldn't physically exist thanks to careful staging and set work. Kubrick's brother in law has officially admitted that Kubrick drew up maps without spacial coherence on purpose to make the hotel seem dreamlike and labyrinthine; paralleled with the hedge maze just outside of it which likewise was directed to be continually shifting in ways that reality simply wouldn't allow. But all this playing with space doesn't mess with the central story. Ignore all the symbolism, real or implied, and The Shining is still a great atmospheric spook story about a father succumbing to madness in seclusion and his family's struggle to escape him. Same with Full Metal Jacket. There's symbolism aplenty but without it it's still a harrowing war drama while A Clockwork Orange and 2001 function fine as straight laced science fiction stories. You don't need to play detective to enjoy these movies.

It's an added bonus and the reason people continue to watch the movies later when you discover the director isn't only telling a story he's also playing a game. 

However it seems to me a lot of directors got the wrong impression from Kubrick that the point of art and storytelling is to deliberately confuse audiences. The movie  Synecdoche, New York makes no sense even as a regular watching film. Things happen that can't happen and they're integral to the 'plot' which itself is fragmented and apparently not as important to the writer/director as getting across some kind of obscure message. I don't see film however as the ideal vehicle for free form thinking, especially in a commercial context. People can watch The Shining and get the thrills and chills of a well executed film without any symbolic or metaphorical treasure hunting, but something like Synecdoche is impenetrable to people uninterested in paying attention not the the characters or the story but the underlying metaphors which are so prominent they twist reality and take center stage. South Land Tales is guilty of this too, presenting constant metaphors that were probably extremely important to the writer but to the average audience are bewildering and more than a little silly if they have no context and don't make any reasonable point. 

In The Shining there's a scene where the television is turned on but there's no chord connecting it to the wall. Maybe there's a hidden meaning concerning this or a continuity error or any number of reasons behind this strange scene, but the ultimate point I think is that it DOESN'T MATTER. No undo attention is called to this impossible event. We aren't hammered over the head by its presence. The only information truly important at that moment in the film is that the characters are watching television. There might be subliminal context but it doesn't disrupt the narrative flow.    

It's more of an easter egg.

In Synecdoche a character owns a house that is literally on fire. She doesn't seem to notice and neither does anyone else. Apparently it's a reference to a Tennessee Williams quote 'We all live in a house on fire...' which is a reference to death which is a theme in the film...but does it make ANY sense in the context of simply the narrative itself? NO. It's a metaphor which has gotten so out of hand it's destroying reality. For a film the author claims tries to be as realistic as possible this is one of many instances where things happen that cannot happen and are so prominent they ensure it that nothing seems real at all throughout the running time. To make any sense of the film you need to read the right books, recognize the right symbols, and deduce the hidden meanings because they're the only meanings you get.

And if the whole movie is supposed to feel 'dreamlike', fine I suppose...except that everything is so monotone, dull, and played up to be '
realistic' that the intrusions of fantasy like characters appearing in animated cartoons on the television for no reason are just jarring. It's an appeal to being 'art' because it's incomprehensible.

That, in my opinion, is cheating.

And context and content shouldn't be something that happens AFTER the fact either.
People are quick to declare the plot of something like Inception (a movie I love) to have the potential to branch into several alternative subplots that are hinted at but never made explicit, and therefore the story of Inception is even deeper than it first appears. There's been speculation like people suggesting the entire movie is really Cobb's own inception being done by another character in a reality we never get to see, even more 'real' than the reality in the film which is actually another layer of a dream. If this is true then Mal's suicide wasn't really suicide (she just returned to reality) and Cobb's inception wasn't real either; just part of the dream.
Wow. Your mind is officially blown away by the complexity of the movie, right?

Fine I guess, but the problem I have is that this theorizing might be fun to make up, but that's all it is. Theorizing. There is NOTHING in the movie that makes a good case for the inception to be Cobb's. There's hints at it in dialogue, but the game isn't given away. Cool. The audience can make up its own mind, but without a concrete story the author was trying to tell then the answer to the question 'what is the story about' comes back as 'Nothing'. The story was intended to make others finish writing it for themselves.

That's not a mystery in any original sense anymore than a book in which a man is killed, suspects show up...and the book ends. We never cross-examine evidence. We never get the inspector to show up and say whodunit or even suggest who might have been responsible. It's entertaining to speculate, but if the mystery isn't implicit then it's NOT a part of the story. People keep telling me any number of reasons that films are really smart and well written because of writings in other forms of media: comics, novelizations, theories made on line. All great fun but nothing is a solid mystery.

Lets compare to Kubrick again: A Clockwork Orange.

SPOILERS.
Our juvenile thug Alex is forced to undergo government mind control to curb his lust and violence. Throughout the story it seems to work so that he can no longer stand the thought of his old actions and even tries to kill himself when he hears his old favorite music.
Or...does he?
The clues are there and it's almost but just never quite a done deal that Alex is lying.
Seeds of the possibility of Alex being a liar are well established and called back to so if the case was made there would be more evidence than supposition to support the theory. For instance Alex proves he can belch on command in one scene, and in the scene where he's supposedly hypnotized what does he do? He belches.
Is he in control?
Other evidence suggests he still has violent and lustful impulses and acts out on them, although all of it is treated subtly. Is he acting? Is he not?

But again the grand game is made all the sweeter by one solid truth.
IT DOESN'T MATTER.

The mystery is all well and good and there's plenty of juicy clues to support different interpretations, but whether Alex is faking his reformation or is truly a mind controlled slave doesn't ultimately matter that much to the events in the plot. A Clockwork Orange doesn't hinge on the truth behind the mystery. It's a subtext which can be ignored or investigated at leisure.

So...where did all of that go anyhow?

I recently saw Pain and Gain which was a surprisingly well directed dark comedy but I can say FOR CERTAIN that there is zero subtly going on and no metaphor. Throughout the film if a character is thinking something there will be a voice over even if it makes no sense. How is the guy who has just been run over by a car talking? Who is he talking to? The audience, that's who, and it's never revealed to be anyone else. Periodically words would actually flash on the screen explaining a joke or indicating something that should have been indicated visually or in dialogue if the movie cared to try such as calling Dwayne Johnson's character 'The Weak Link'. Yeah. The audience already guessed that. It's hard to tell if the movie is being deliberately blatant for the sake of a 'style' or because it honestly believes the people watching the movie aren't very bright and have short attention spans.

But if THAT was the case, how come so many people praise slow burn thrillers like There Will Be Blood? Not a lot of car chases in that movie. I think there's more than enough of an audience for people interested in experiencing a film as a series of mysteries unraveling and not just jumpy shiny images on the big screen to keep them occupied. There's room for that too, but what happened to films where if you looked in the background you could actually SEE something?

In the movie Se7en, director David Fincher made each camera shot mean something. Shaky cams in practically any other context indicate ACTION but to David Fincher (who RARELY uses them) the point made with them is when things are shaking the character on screen is experiencing turmoil, and when the shot isn't moving the character we're watching is in control. This doesn't happen all the time but when it does it's just noticeable enough to make it clear that something other than just editing and directing is going on here. It doesn't matter to get the plot, but it makes the plot that much more interesting I think.

So references are jokes are all well and jolly, but to me the most meaningful things are the details that you get in hindsight, that you might have noticed but only in passing. Look at how in the original Batman movie that Bruce Wayne collects masks and armor. Sure it's a hobby, but it's also an indication of who he is. He's secretive. He likes to build up a facade and a defense. It's not made implicit, it's just implied along with credibility of logic that even without the metaphor it stands on its own.
 
I like how in the movie Deathwatch that Andy Serkis' character, a soldier with a brutish streak, ends up armed with a trench club. Appropriate for the WW1 time period, yes, but also indicative subtly of his decent into near feudal barbarism. I like how in Mad Max: Fury Road that so many objects are decorated by skulls. Enemies or revered ancestors? It doesn't matter to the plot, but it's a clue to a story behind the story: a mystery with an answer.
Christopher Nolan likes answering questions no one even thought to ask sometimes. How did Two-Face manage to subdue the driver of the corrupt cop's car? Watch VERY carefully. For a few split seconds while the corrupt cop enters his car Two-Face can be seen knocking out the guard and tossing him away JUST OFF SCREEN. You'd miss it on the first go but it's there if you look for it. Same with why The Joker is slow clapping in his jail cell: he's deliberately making fun of the same slow clapping that happened on tv with the deposing of Harvey Dent!
Does it matter? By itself it's just another spooky thing The Joker does.
But it means something to him, and it can mean something to you too if you care for it to.

So when you make 'art' and you absolutely must communicate some kind of deep truth I for one would appreciate a real mystery being woven throughout a story that can hold it's own ground stripped of metaphor: a real mystery and not a cheat.
For me to call something 'great' it needs to exceed just laying out the info or making clever asides.

It needs to make me think, and it needs to reward my thinking.

Action scenes are a strange quantity, a bit like chocolate syrup.
For the most part people like LOTS of chocolate syrup on things and might be convinced to enjoy practically anything as long as it had a liberal applications of the same. The problem with chocolate syrup however is that it's not exactly substantive and in large quantities it loses it's novelty.
The key is to provide plenty, but withhold it too to make each new action beat seem more satisfying than exhausting; more associated and important to a story being told as opposed to an unwelcome detour.

So here's my favorite fight scenes, battles, chases, heists, altercations and such in order from 'well, that was fun' to 'THAT WAS AWESOME!'

10: The Avenges: Battle For New York



NOBODY thought a live action adaptation of Marvel's Avengers would work. It was all too big and far too ambitious. The cast was too colorful, the scope too broad. But I'll hand it to The Avengers, it pulled it off, and that triumph is no better demonstrated than by the massive fight sequence when a full scale invasion of New York by aliens is set to rights by Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It's largely powered by computer animation, but the animation itself is top notch and a great deal of the punch of this scene is due to live action pyrotechnics and stunts. The directing covers the events without obscure angles and shaky cam and it's a thrilling sequence, even if it doesn't really largely play into the plot that much.
It's a well crafted interlude which wouldn't look out of place between the covers of a comic book. Many imitators have risen to copy the attack on the city but this was one of the first to make it seem epic, and is still one of the most impressive and exciting! 

9: The Matrix: Lobby Fight



This is a bit like saying that Beethoven's Ode to Joy is one of the best pieces of music written given how it's generally accepted this is one of the seminal action scenes of all time, but I couldn't not put it on the list. By rights I shouldn't like it. Not a lot of character in two stoic gunners slaughtering cops and soldiers. But the distinguishing feature of the lobby fight is the sheer dreamlike insanity of the lengths it goes to. The slow motion, the wirework, the ultra fast movements and almost anime-like sound effects make this not so much an accurate portrayal of a gun battle but more like a power fantasy of being untouchable despite the odds and clearly the room of bad guys with style. The direction is top notch with no single scene taking too long, the music makes the proceedings almost seem like a futuristic dance as much as a fight, and it's still impressive that this big action moment occurred in a relatively low budget independent movie struggling for funds. Somehow on a shoestring this movie implied being over the top, and for drawing that line it remains an inspirational and highly entertaining moment for me. 

8: Mad Max Fury Road: The War Rig versus Buzzards



I was tempted to say just 'Mad Max Fury Road' which could adequately be described as an action scene with a few quiet moments in between, but this scene in particular struck me on recollection. The storm was impressive and the final battle is huge, but this battle with the bikers stood out. Max is helping Furiosa and the two have a chance to shine. The stunt work is amazing as real bikers leap a real truck. The inventiveness of using a snowplow to put out an engine fire with sand brings a smile to my face every time. The costumes, the choreography, and in this scene most of all the music make this moment shine in a movie filled with many notable moments. The driving score makes it feel imperative not that Max and Furiosa kill their enemies but that they escape them. The impression of The Buzzards is that there's far too many for the limited ammunition to deal with so the major goal is to escape. It's a car chase in many ways and a gun battle but the idea of it being a suspensive dash to evade the enemy as opposed to destroy them makes it all the more edge-of-your-seat in my opinion. Great characterization too in the subtle acting and movements of our protagonist anti-heroes. 

7: Oldboy: Oh Dae-su Hallway Battle


You seldom see an action sequence that is either almost completely unedited or is between individuals who would rather do ANYTHING other than fight each other. Although Josh Brolin did an admirable job in the remake, the original Oldboy hallway fight is the superior version of an excellent and powerful action scene.
Here Dae-su who was captured by an unknown and forced to live most of his life a prisoner in a hotel room for reasons he can't even guess at returns to the place he was held and confronts a group of hired thugs who mean to keep him from his answers. He's trained himself to be a fighter in the years of solitude and these young punks are armed, but neither Dae-su or the bodyguards really want to get themselves hurt. The opening delivery proves this as Dae-su lets go a man he's tortured for information so that he can get medical attention. Violence has consequences.
When the fight erupts it's an unbroken almost sloppily brutal affair where nothing feels so choreographed as much as spontaneous. It's a brawl of missed swings, broken weapons, and eventually Dae-su is actually stabbed and thrown down before rising up in an adrenaline fueled rage. Combatants stagger, whimper, and are even carried away by their comrades when they're too injured to fight. It's simply one of the most visceral and nigh true to life portrayals of the realities of a fist fight. In the end, in a way no fight scene off hand I can think of has done, the final tally is a bunch of critically injured people including our hero exhausted and finding it hard to walk. Hard hitting stuff.

6: Heat: Bank Heist Shootout



Director Michael Mann has a unique flair for staging his films as if they were actually taking place. It's not so much stylized as hyper-real. The quick cuts, the natural lighting and sounds, the quiet music...it all makes things appear almost as if we're watching them occur in real time, perhaps even from an eyewitness perspective. The heist and gun battle in Heat is an 'action' scene that doesn't feel like an action scene at all. It feels too chaotic, too cold to be entirely entertaining. But the purpose is not to impress by how cool the heroes/villains are fighting or dazzle with bright explosions. It's to hammer home that something like a gun battle has lasting impact, on objects as well as people. It feels stark, it feels honest, and it's ultimately about the characters caught up in an event rather than the event being the main focus.  

5: Desparado: Bar Shootout 



And then there's the opposite end of the coin to Mann's realism which is Robert Rodriguez 's pulp flavored wackiness. Like The Matrix I admire this scene because of expert directing and pacing as well as how it looks all the more incredible when you consider the budgetary shortcuts throughout it to sustain this independent movie. The unique quality of this battle compared to others is the humor. The Mariachi is a super human fighter, but he's also a regular guy so if he can avoid being shot at he'll take that course of action. Backed into a corner his style is improvised, darkly amusing, and not perfect such as running out of ammo or misjudging an action and getting hurt. Like John McClain he is not bullet-proof, but unlike John McClain the situations he gets into and his means of fighting is so exotic and entertaining I can enjoy the fight scenes in films like El Mariachi, Despardo and Once Upon a Time in Mexico all by themselves. Die Hard is a great action movie but I would argue Desperado has far better action scenes. 

4: The Raid: Brothers versus Mad Dog



Can violence be beautiful?
It can if the combatants are constantly moving so gracefully and so fluidly that every movement seems like part of a brutal dance. This scene is heavily edited but the frankly jaw dropping choreography is like watching so kind of post modern performance art. It's still the most impressive martial arts fight I've ever seen, made all the more impactful when you consider that a lot of those strikes and falls connected. Hard. The Raid is somewhat infamous for the performers getting down and dirty, injuring themselves for the sake of integrity, and this battle looks like it must have yielded more than a few bruises if not worse. The variety of techniques employed and the gorgeous posturing and movements offset the length of this fight. Honestly I could watch this over and over again and probably see something new every single time. 

3: Lord of the Rings: Lurtz versus Aragorn



Inarguably the greatest fight scene in all three of the Lord of the Rings trilogy films or The Hobbit movies, and arguably one of the best sword fights in cinema.
It's short and pithy compared to a lot of drawn out duels, but it's all the more memorable for that. There's no fancy swordplay or slow motion emphasis or even that much style here. It feels desperate and bloody and makes it seem momentarily like Aragorn may have met his match. It's one of the most violent moments in the series and one of the most immediate and pulse-pounding ones too. I saw this movie twice in the theater and both times the audience applauded wildly at the final sword stroke. We knew instinctively Aragorn was going to win and Lurtz was going to lose, sure, but the way this battle is staged it makes Aragorn fight for every inch of ground and win by sheer dogged determination. It's a victory worth celebrating.

2: Star Trek 2: The Enterprise versus The Reliant



This is still the greatest fight scene in the history of Star Trek. The stakes seem real and moreso even than the modern Star Trek films you are given the impression of a desperate and destructive struggle. This is characterization and action well melded. Kirk's character arc concerns his confrontation with the un-winnable situation which he doesn't believe in. Khan represents that situation made manifest: an enemy which can hurt and kill his crew and who constantly has the upper hand. There's a nice little moment where Kirk is forced to put on his glasses as well, something he loathes because he hates being reminded of his age. The way the starships battle isn't a swooping action scene between small maneuverable craft: it's a battle of wits between the commanders of two enormous fully manned vessels, like submarines in outer space. This gives much more impact to the launching of a single torpedo or makes it necessary for thinking ahead since the ships don't stop on a dime. The final battle has it's place as well, but the initial encounter shows the true damage starships can do to each other, pits Kirk against his old nemesis for the first time, and shows how both commanders have a reason to be respected. It may look dated but the pacing, the writing, the directing is still fantastic. 

1: Star Wars Return of the Jedi: Vader versus Luke


Simply my favorite action sequence and the one that since I was a kid has meant the most to me. Plenty of battles are bigger but none have had the kind of consequences as this one. Two characters we've grown to know confront each other and both seem well capable of defeating the other, but there will be a loss no matte who wins of loses. Here you can see symbolism, suspense, excitement, a protagonist who is not invincible and an enemy who is truly intimidating. That the duel continues under the leer of The Emperor is all the more important since it implies even if our hero kills the villain he will have played right into his scheme and lose his war as well as his soul. It's been parodied and copied but this final battle is still the best of its kind I think and the most thematically interesting and emotionally investing. George Lucas has tried to make lightning strike twice by making more lightsaber battles and force bolts and special effects but this sequence was the perfect meeting of acting, directing, choreography, writing, and all the little touches which made it MEAN something more than just a pretty distraction. In the future I'd like to see more battles like this where the outcome isn't who wins but is about the fate of people we've come to care about.  
Apple Bloom: You sir, care t' buy some apples?
Dr. Hooves: Ah, no thanks.
Apple Bloom: Why not?
Dr. Hooves: I have plenty at home.
Apple Bloom: A-are you sure?
Dr. Hooves: Yes, I'm pretty sure I-...
Apple Bloom: You're pretty sure, but you're not absolutely positively completely super-duper sure, are ya'?
Dr. Hooves: Y-ah... If I buy some apples, will you please leave me alone?
- Time Turner 'Dr. Hooves' in the MLP G4 Episode ' Call of the Cutie'

Dr. Hooves: Great whickering stallions, they've got style! Gentlecolts! I'm facing certain calamity, and I couldn't help noticing your remarkable fashion sense. Could I have the name of your incredible tailor?
Jeff Letrotski: Oh, yeah, man. His name is me.
Dr. Hooves: "Me". What an unfortunate name.
- Time Turner 'Dr. Hooves' in the MLP G4 Episode 'Slice of Life'

---

Fans are the lifeblood of entertainment.
As an industry.
Much as the same that restaurant attendees are the only reason restaurants are open for business, fans who follow and enjoy and even participate in their favorite franchises elevate the simplest notion into a worldwide phenomena. 
But like restaurant attendees there's a bit of an issue I believe that occurs when they become not only the ones financing a franchise but also become a direct part of it. If someone in the front room decides to move into the kitchen or the staff decides it would be a treat to let a patron try their hand at preparing a meal you might have some success an goodwill, as long as the amount of intervention is kept to a manageable level. If EVERYONE got the opportunity, perhaps even with executive permission, to tell the chef exactly what should be cooked and how you'd have greatly inferior service and food.
Why? Because people can't always agree. In fact they seldom do.
This one thinks the food is just perfect. This one thinks it's too hot. This one wants it warmed up. This one feels like garnishing everything with celery because that's the new and best way to do things. And every dish needs to be somehow formed into the shape of Batman because hip, modern people like Batman and since they do it's conceivable Batman will be popular for ever and ever and never go out of style. Whatever it modern and chic and cutting edge is immortal and all important.
At least until the NEXT all important and immortal trend rolls up, and therein lies my issue. 

The reason I prefer my entertainment to be from a single credible source instead of many is the same reason you'd probably prefer to watch your favorite novel adapted for the screen or a video game by team who understood the medium they were working in and not just a fan boy or army of the same who decided to adapt their fan fiction and cast their favorite actors to play their favorite roles and so forth. The former are more likely to craft a story and an experience with a certain degree of professionalism and flair even if they don't know or even care that much about the source material.
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan which is argued to be one of the best in the series and a benchmark of science fiction was originally written and directed by people who had no knowledge of Star Trek and they took it upon themselves to watch the entire show to come up with their sequel idea.
The film Patton which I consider a classic is about a general whom both the actor prettying him, the writer, and the director thought was a pompous, self-important jackass, but because they researched the story and told it as it was and not the way they wanted it to be the film is both a condemnation of Patton and a touching tribute to his life and his convictions delivered with true compassion for the man even if the people composing it didn't believe in his actions.

This is why I HATE pop cultural humor when it doesn't connect to anything previously established. It's such a pandering and empty move in my opinion to appeal to relevance in a swiftly changing culture and to wink at the audience in an effort to excuse the failings of a production by being 'ironic' or 'genre savvy' or 'subversive' or any other synonym for 'lazy'. Making a joke about current politicians or popular issues of the day in a movie which otherwise has no connection to these events just dates the work horribly and is obnoxiously desperate.
Outright altering the fabric of reality to appeal to a fanbase can be an action with good intentions, to encourage your followers that you've heard them and want to acknowledge their efforts in making side-cannon ideas, but retrofitting a work to appeal directly to a fan interpretation of something is the sign of bankrupt writers.

Take Time Turner now known officially as 'Dr. Hooves'.
In one of many pandering fan references in 'Slice of Life':  the 100th episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (I'm beginning to finally feel guilt about typing that title in full) a background character who previous showed very little personality other than a somewhat distinctive look was given a full and in my reasoning somewhat politic makeover. Fans had long referred to Time Turner as 'Dr. Hooves' for a joke. He looks a little like David Tennet as he played the tenth incarnation of Dr. Who and a mark on his flank resembles an hourglass. In some episodes he trots by with an inside joke related to his fan designation (wearing 3D glasses and a rose in one notable example) but it wan't obtrusive. 
What do I mean when I say obtrusive?
I mean Dr. Hooves has previously in other episodes before Slice of Life spoken and seen to react to other characters. His personality is only barely sketched out and he's mostly, well, a 'background pony' indeed, but that was how he was presented. 
NOW in Slice of Life he's become a weird hybridization of the most popular fan treatises. He speaks with an accent he never had before, an attitude he never had before and uses strange phrasing and even a new catchphrase to distinguish himself as, once and for all, Dr. Hooves despite the original character being called in all previous materials 'Time Turner'. 
Originally he was a timekeeper...now he's a mad scientist who is clearly an outright parody of David Tennet. 
Fans have literally torn up everything that made up the old character and replaced him with everything THEY wanted. The writers too? Perhaps. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm pretty sure this is NOT the direction this character would have taken without fan intervention, and by that I mean a writer pandering to the fans. 
This is all over Slice of Life. Octavia and Vinyl Scratch live together. Why? Because fans say so. Bon Bon and Lyra Heartstrings are a couple (or just really good friends?) but why? For a story purpose? Not really. The answer is again 'because fans'.
Don't believe me? This is Hasbro's official announcement of the name change to Time Turner.
On November 23, 2013, the Hub Network both posted on Facebook and tweeted a picture of Dr. Hooves and Apple Bloom with the comment "Here's to epic days for fandoms everywhere!"
The reasoning is that the airing of the 100th episode lands on the previous airing of the seminal Dr. Who episode 'Day of the Doctor' years ago. 
Hasbro is pandering directly to both fans of Dr. Who and fans of the fan-cannon reimagining of Time Turner, and with the 100th episode they practically danced and sung like a Minstrel Show to satisfy fans.
But not, necessarily as far as I could see, to make anything decent or inherently good. Does Dr. Hooves now being a parody of the Doctors without any doubt make him a better or more interesting character? Fans may say so, but the issue I see is that Time Turner may have been dull but he was his own in universe person.
Now all he is is a joke about ANOTHER franchise that maybe some people watching the show might not even understand. It doesn't matter.
Fans are god.

What confuses me is that while people cheer in the streets for this victory of fandoms, the exactly same issue was raised in the same show previously to disastrous effect. A quiet, (accidentally) crosseyed pony named originally Bright Eyes or perhaps Ditzy Doo was named 'Derpy' by fans and as a nod (not a big nod but a little one) to fans the MLP episode The Last Roundup features a little opening skit with Derpy in which a major character Rainbow Dash calls her by name. This brought on a HUGE backlash by people who called the portrayal insensitive to people with disabilities and Hasbro removed the name, altered the voice, and later on had the character almost exclusively pushed into the background and in non-speaking appearances. 
This might not have been the fans responsible for this alteration but it was the first indication that Hasbro will crumble at the slightest sign of demands made. You want a character removed or altered? Whatever! MLP doesn't matter that much so who cares if things are changed or censored? Was Derpy intended to insult people with disabilities? Not in a million years, but in a panic Hasbro cover its tracks.
Now it's doing the exact same thing to pander to the fans...but now it's being praised for being 'bold'. Which is extremely odd. I consider both actions to be those of cowardice. 

Leaving ponies aside (I'm not even sure I can call myself a fan after the last season wore away my good will for the series, nearly as a whole) this sort of kowtowing to people who have nothing traditionally to do with your work beyond experience it is starting to leave ugly spots on things of all stripes. Characters in shows are not altered organically because of a story, but because fans demand they be or not be a certain way. People can't fall in love the way the writer who came up with them dictate: it must be the most popular fashion embraced by the fans. J.K Rowling later admitted that she would rather have had Harry marry Hermionie, but by the point in the books where this might have happened it had basically become a demand to have Harry hook up with Ginny so Ron wouldn't be left in the lurch. 
Here's the thing though, and Rowling realized it: SYMMETRY DOES NOT MAKE STORY.
Ron's a great guy but does that mean he deserves a 'bird' to marry in the end?
Why Hermione? The two have nothing in common and deftly avoiding any kind of 'shipping' argument the issue arrives at the weirdest situation where Harry, Ron and Hermionie are seen in the final act with their children.
At the tender age of twenty. 
It just seems rushed and too neatly tied up, and that's because IT WAS.
The demand was so high for someone to die, someone to fall in love, someone to have kids and the story to end that Rowling bolted through the final book in a feverish pace to make sure no strings were left dangling.
But in doing so she's left with something that ultimately fans nor herself are really satisfied with.

SOME fans love it, but some hate it and some are indifferent.
Because 'fans' is not a quantity that can be quantitated. 

When you declare 'fans' god you mean SOME fans are god. Are there people who are less vocal who like or dislike something? You bet your finest pair of boots because there are SO MANY people involved, especially nowadays, in experiencing mediums of entertainment. Release a little indie title and the next day you'll have arguments in the forums.
And generally THAT'S GREAT. As long as nobody is throwing punches (verbal or otherwise) discussion enriches the quality of a work for every individual.

But the one person who should be above all this furor is THE WRITER.

A world set to paper or digital medium or the silver screen is the domain of the writer first and foremost. Lucas is harangued for declaring himself owner of Star Wars and making strange decisions, but when it comes to it Star Wars is owned by...whoever it's owned by.
People like to claim it's owned by 'The Fans'. It's not.
If Lucas owns it, Lucas owns it. He can make crap with it: it's his decision.
If Disney owns it, Disney owns it. Likewise and so forth.
I may not like it but that's my choice as a viewer. I can make a harsh review and bemoan poor decisions and the like but I will not muscle my way into a studio and demand they satisfy ME. 

The writer is the captain of the ship. They can go where the passengers say but if they encounter a storm and are being yelled at on all sides as to what they should do they have a perfect right to say 'KINDLY SHUT UP' and just go with their own instincts and training. You might have angry passengers who feel ignored and sidelined, but you are less likely to have happy passengers who feel acknowledged right up until the ship smashes up in the reef.

The director Baz Lurhman is praised for including modern music in his period dramas by many. The belief is that in order to get across how 'hip' and 'revolutionary' these times were the music has to be changed into modern tunes. Audiences nowadays listening to old timey songs would clearly be unable to distinguish historical reality from the experience of the characters and write off everything as boring and antique. Because music gets outdated so it needs to be updated, and the best way to update it is to make most of it harken back to music a modern audience is familiar with. For instance including songs like 'Here We Are Now Entertain Us' by Nirvana in turn of the century France in the film Moulin Rouge or the hip hop song 'No Church in the Wild' in The Great Gatsby.

To me though this backfires.

I don't think these songs are 'revolutionary' because I hear them practically every day in other movies or on the radio. It actually serves to be laughable when a character is supposedly singing a heartfelt song and it's really just a cover for a song that makes no sense in the context, like a stirring rendition of 'The Hills are Alive' decades before the second world war which was the context for the musical that song was from. It comes across as confused: a bid for zeitgeist appeal that only serves to date what should be timeless story. In the future people will look back at Moulin Rouge and wonder how people thought THESE songs were supposed to seem fresh and powerful. Those dusty classics? 
Maybe the intention is that these films are ONLY made for a specific audience at a specific time.

This is called bad planning. 

Harry Potter will probably remain a staple of children's literature thanks to the themes and characters and a rather careful attempt to mask times rather than define them. Harry doesn't talk about Nintendo Wiis or popular movies. He doesn't have to. We get that in his world it is 'modern day' and in the wizarding world it's a strange throwback to many past eras. We don't need a date stamp.

How stupid would it look if Harry wore a dew-rag and starting singing Eminem songs? It's hip and modern guys!
Yes maybe...but it's also jarring, pandering, pointless, and it's going to be very badly dated in the future.

So this is why the triumph of the fans I view as a failure of the writers. Their intention was to make fans become a part of the story, but instead of that they passed over their rights as custodians of the world. They let the lunatic fringe run the asylum and now they're having a lovely time, but folks who remember what it was like when the wardens were in charge instead remember when there was a bit of order and decorum and some class.

Degrading stories to make them appeal to lower and lower denominators is a never ending and slippery slope, and at least for me it's another example of good intentions leading to not such good results.

Enjoy this if you care to and more power to you. I for one am sad that the writer's have all but said so many times nowadays 'I give up. YOU write this blasted thing.' 

I don't watch television much nowadays. Procedural cop shows are so, well, procedural they quickly bore me and every other programs seems to focus primarily on forced relationship dramatics or just upping the ante of violence and exploitation. 
Maybe that's the bag of everyone else on the planet except me (wouldn't be a surprise) but at least in my opinion it would be fantastic to see more shows that catered to the concept of characterization, interesting new worlds to explore, and ongoing tales that developed instead of contracted or floundered or pushed the magic reset button every single episode to restore the status quo.
Here's some suggestions my Summer heat-addled mind came up with for show concepts I'd actually watch with some regularity.
Maybe there's shows past or present that follow these ideas? If so I'd love to hear about them!


10: Weird World 

Sometimes the world can be weird. Not quite science fiction or fantasy, just odd and unconventional. A lot of cult favorites, whether they are books, video games, films or a spare few television shows, gained that status by challenging the notion that all genres are based on the same premises. Consider the game series Zeno Clash which ostensively takes place in a savage semi-fantasy location but is never implicitly named as the past, present or future of any known reality. Things are just...odd, and purposefully so. People dress outlandishly, inexplicable creatures are everywhere, and although there's logic that ties the world together it's logic that isn't dependent upon the stranger choices of aesthetics such as your primary firearm being the 'fish gun' and the story revolving around a hermaphrodite who kidnaps children and an insane tribe of creatures from across the world who perform outlandish actions because they believe doing so is their purpose for living in the first place. Another production that had this idea of a self-evidently bizarre world is the classic Beyond Good and Evil. Here humans and animal/human hybrids live on a planet of mostly water with some scattered islands and the plot revolves around an alien conspiracy. There may be a deeper backstory behind all of this but the story of the game depends very little on explaining it. Jade the reporter and main character is relatable even if her world is crazy compared to our own with future technology and strange flora and fauna.
It's a unique experience just to see the intricacies of her world while unraveling her story so there's rarely a dull moment; and since everyone in the story treats the most madcap aspects of their world as routine it's easier for the audience to reconcile them with an internal reality the characters are experiencing. It's easier to take anthropomorphic characters seriously when the humans never really find them that odd and treat them like a part of their every day lives.
I think it would be a MASSIVE risk, but one I'd try to support tooth and nail if a television series, or maybe on online web series presented a non-traditional genre setting for a show. Imagine if every episode the strange and bizarre would happen but intrinsically because the world of the show itself was off kilter. Watching that show would seem like visiting a new place with new experiences even if the characters don't actively go looking for them every time.

9: Post-Post Apocalyptic

In show terms this kind of production usually means DIRECTLY after an apocalypse. Shows like Jericho and Jeremiah and Revolution and to a lesser extent The Walking Dead show characters wandering through the relatively recent ruins of a destroyed civilization, bemoaning the loss of easy living and periodically getting into shoot outs or searching for supplies. That can be entertaining somewhat.
But what I'D like to see is a full on Mad Max scenario.
The world has evolved, perhaps in an unrealistic way but in one that's stylish and wondrous and wild. Society has crumbled, been rediscovered and put back together but in an entirely new way. The radiation has died down and now people can begin to live again, but live in a world they need to rediscover. Little armored settlements spot the land as well as enormous fortified cities and the new professions of hunters, craftsmen, mercenaries, and even just adventurers have become popular now that the new world is somewhat stabilized. Fallout is definitely an inspiration here, but more like Fallout 4 than Fallout 1-3. The wasteland is still out there to explore but it's no longer as much of a dreary, dead place. It's a vibrant world reclaimed by nature: the remnants of the old world lying in wait for those brave enough to search them out and loot their valuable artifacts. 
Sets and costumes and the like wouldn't be too expensive. All you need is ruins and everyday clothing like any classic post-apocolyptic concept, but the difference would be that the world has become like a post-modern medieval society. People aren't griping about survival: they're joining into parties to make discoveries for the glory of their factions, they're investigating old world ruins for medical and scientific advances lost to the new world, they're perhaps encountering robots from the post-war period to retrofit into useful companions, or mad war bots they need to battle. Perhaps there's mutant animals to contend with as well with their own fanciful adaptations such as chameleon invisibility or hard shells that can deflect bullets.
I'd love to see a production in which the main characters weren't constantly bickering, or if they were it was about something more than just being inconvenienced. If the characters were part of an exploratory team they'd be more professional, skillful, self sufficient, always have a goal in mind, and work together. None of the alien beauty of a new world would be lost, but a great deal more time in the show could be spent investigating its mysteries instead of arguing over food.  

8: PsychoScape

I love metaphors that have a tenable quality compared to the rest of a story.
Silent Hill 2 is like one long personification of one man's deep-seated psychological issues, but brought to life as a literal journey through judgement in the form of Hell itself. It's a story told twice: one with the horrifying imagery around the character and his attempts to circumvent and escape it and the other with his slow realization that these monsters and locations are not at all random and each represents an aspect of his own past. This kind of thing can come across as pretentious, but the word 'pretentious' specifically means 'not saying anything although it pretends its saying a lot'. Silent Hill at its best doesn't have this problem with every aspect of it tailored to be associated with the internal story of the characters involved. 
So why not have a show along similar lines? Perhaps literally a character is capable of perceiving the manifest psyches of people. A person who suffers from insecurity could have surrounding them a monster who is constantly whispering admonishments to them and pricking them with the needles lining it's body like a constant reminder of inferiority. Someone who is psychotic could be accompanied invisibly by a charismatic but monstrous figure who instructs them how to do their crimes and provides justifications, relishing in their wicked deeds just as their 'host' is. 
These psyches are not the 'people' exactly, they're more like the mental influences (sometimes self created) which they've allowed to define them. The host may even become aware of these manifestations; even fight to defend them. 
So this hypothetical person capable of perceiving these manifestations might be able to combat them or even converse with them using her own psyche. This psyche could grow, change, and even become corrupted in the presence of others. It would be an interesting morality play if the person capable of challenging damaged psyches could only cure or repair these by taking some dark aspect of these wayward souls into her own mind. Gaze not into the abyss or the abyss gazes back into you sort of thing.
Also what happens if by changing a psyche you change the person? When you 'defeat' a psyche does it leave someone without that mental prop they relied on? If someone has a fearful disposition and that is destroyed the person may ironically become very depressed because they've lived with that fear so long it began to feel like a part of themselves. And maybe the protagonist would have to struggle with the outcome of her use or abuse of her powers. In some instances she might try and tinker with a psyche for her own ends or end up changing a person for the worse with the best of intentions.
And to get really fancy imagine if a person's psyche isn't only a manifest object or being, it's an entire landscape. Everyone has their internal world where their secrets are literally locked away and guarded, where their own worldview has defined the way the 'inhabitants' live and think. Someone suffering from arrogance may depict in their minds a world in which everyone is lockstep with their own perspective and literally worshipping the owner of the mind as a god. Someone with multiple personality disorder may have a world split into two warring societies.  
I think if it wasn't treated as a joke this could be a very atmospheric and intriguing production. 

7: True Fantasy/ Sci-Fi Adventure

An honest to goodness fully catalogued and considered science fiction or fantasy universe would be fantastic. Firefly had the beginnings of a universe planned out but a little too often it slipped into making fun of the genre rather than embodying it. The Legend of The Seeker portrayed such a cliche and thoughtless fantasy universe it was impossible to care about for me. Game of Thrones has a fantasy universe but the problem I have is that it's not an interesting one: highly generic and with no interesting people except for the ruling families who are principally interesting because they are constantly backstabbing each other. 
What I'd like to see is a genre production in which the world was treated with some integrity and respect. In the Dragon Age series the world feels fleshed out and real despite the wacky things that happen in it because there's some kind of logic and thought about how things work. In Legend of The Seeker the wizard Zed throws fireballs around because...that's what he does. In Dragon Age series wizards gain there powers by traveling into another dimension and making pacts with demons. That takes the boring idea of magic and makes it into a fully developed and interesting new concept. Mass Effect as well took the most dull and uninteresting aspects of science fiction and made them fresh and new by treating them somewhat seriously. What if 'blasters' weren't just inexplicable laser guns but they instead fired particles using the same mass field technology that powered the jump gates used throughout the story? What if the super-combative single minded alien warrior race had actually be genetically developed to be warriors in the first place...and were suffering from an ailment coded into them by their creators which could lead to their extinction?
Lets have MORE thought but into genre work, not less. I mentioned in previous entries that I like it when people in the stories take things for granted, but the WRITER should not. In Firefly there's a heist involving the world's fire laser gun. Cool and all, but why haven't we ever seen any other laser guns if this is 'the first'? Why is it only one of two left? Has it really been that long? We still have plenty of flintlock pistols lying around and those were made over a century ago. It's an example I feel of an idea which is interesting in theory but has very little thought involved when you scratch below the surface.
On the other side of the coin is something like Final Fantasy Seven in which EVERYTHING is explained, but not always directly on screen. The Buster sword of Cloud Strife has an in universe explanation which is provided. The super powers of the members of SOLDIER ties into the plot. It may seem like backstory is unimportant and it can become really wordy if you spend the unnecessary time blabbing on about it, but if it is there and it is thoughtful it's the difference between developing a world and just tossing out and ideas and hoping that they stick.

6: Creepypasta/ SCP/ The Holders

WHY ISN'T THIS A THING YET?
We don't have near enough spooky shows on television, and those we do have tend to rely on gore over any kind of genuine unnerving feeling. 
Creepypasta for those who don't know is a play on the term 'copy-pasta' or 'copy-paste' which refers to people in forums who take blocks of text telling a joke or a story and sharing it wholesale. Creepypastas are those except designed specifically to be disturbing and scary. In essence they are internet era ghost stories or more accurately urban legends: anything from invented serial killers to strange phenomena or even twisted takes on childhood icons.
And therein lies the genius of this idea as a television or online series.
You wouldn't need to copy-paste creepypastas of old to get the same sensibility translated into an episodic show. Like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits or Tales from The Crypt, or anthology movies like Body Bags, Creepshow, and Nightmares each separate episode could be a self contained spooky vignette. This saves you from the horrors of an episodic show with series continuity. There is nothing quite so immersion breaking as having everything have to return back to normal at the end of an episode just so people can watch the show in any order, but spook stories have the advantage of telling their stories and wrapping up and moving on. You have the advantage of main characters being able, in fact almost being guaranteed, to die which is more than most other shows can claim. If there is continuity it could be with the cursed objects or monsters and killers concerned. Slender Man for instance could show up in multiple stories but those stories could take place in many different times and concern many different people. 
Throw in some kind of host and you could bring back one of my favorite genres that's all but dead nowadays: the variety show. I think the host should be some kind of gently stereotypical basement dweller conspiracy theorist whose sharing these 'true' stories online so that people will finally believe him when he says that all is not as it seems. There could even be series duration skits involving the host in which he sets up episodes to correspond with a theme so he can work out a mystery or maybe he thinks (and could be right about the fact) that he's being stalked by a Creepypasta denizen. 
Imagine a show you could tune into and you could see comedy, horror, adventure, mystery...anything the writer's pleased and sometimes all in the same block of episodes. One moment you could be shivering in the wake of a tale about Jeff the Killer and the next chuckling at a parody of Creepypastas with it's only eerie twist. 
If not Creepypasta other great choices for shows would be SCP (Secure Contain Protect) which concerns strange objects and creatures being hunted down and catalogued by a mysterious organization, and The Holders which concerns a series of artifacts with strange powers only obtainable through bizarre rituals and trails, all of which may collectively lead to the end of the world. 
Someone's going to do it, and if they don't they ought to.

5: The Silent Protectors

An organization is started to beat back the encroaching threat of something with worldwide implications but which can never be officially acknowledge for fear of starting wide scale panic. Be it aliens, monsters, a secret society the organization begun long ago has been combating its influence, sometimes in straight up battles but other times in subtler ways like infiltration, sabotage, and even negotations with unsavory elements. These people are highly trained in their civilian fields as well as proving to have a knack for their new, unusual calling and although from many different backgrounds they are drawn together by the necessity of defeating a common threat and keeping their fight a secret at all costs.
But as time goes on the organization runs into several concerns, some even as pressing as confronting the enemy influence.
For one thing the political ties of the protectors is questioned. Do they work for any one national interest? Do they support no country or cause since they stand for mankind? When their work nets them developed weaponry and devices do they turn over their discoveries to anyone or keep them secured for their own use? Do their backers demand compensation even though they are fighting for the good of all?
And when does intervention become occupation? The organization has been forced on occasion to use extreme methods, and sometimes they make mistakes. Would so many innocents suffer if the organization began to use the same tactics as their enemies and use secreted control to manipulate the world stage to their advantage? Anyone could be in the employ of the enemy so is everyone a threat?
And living and dying in secret is a difficult thing to do. Are there some who would abandon their missions in order to be recognized as heroes? Are there some who would change sides if they felt the organization was destined to lose the fight? Are there some who would defy orders to maintain enemy inventions and enemies themselves instead of destroying them: hoping to understand the foe better then ever before?
And what if the enemy has their own anti-organization: trained and highly skillful members with the sole directive of making their opposition pay for interfering?
Sort of like Men in Black meets X-Files I was thinking. 

4: Den of Thieves

It's a time of chaos: but in chaos there is opportunity.
The industrial revolution has arrived and with it an upheaval in day to day life. The owners of invention patents and factories have gotten wealthy beyond the dreams of anyone in times before and the line between rich and poor has expanded. The plague has ripped through some areas and left them barren, creating an escalating problem that threatens the rich and poor alike. Neighboring kingdoms are gathering their strength, perhaps for impending warfare on a scale never before conceived.
But The Thieves Guild cares little for politics or anything beyond the immediate job at hand.
What was once the brainchild of an enterprising young ruffian has become an underground society for the training and coordinating of destitute people who have decided to abandon the law in order to survive. Only with the backing of this guild can they hope to pull off the most lucrative escapades: infiltrating the castles of nobility or deactivating the cunning devices that defend the wealth of entire companies.
But ever thief must make an oath of secrecy, of fidelity. Punishment for failure is bad, but punishment for ratting out a member of the guild is always death. And if you take what you steal without returning it you will be hunted. 
At some point morality seeps into the equation. How do you in good conscience return to the guild your cargo if that mark is a young noble's daughter, kidnapped and being auctioned into slavery? What if the mark is medicines taken from an apothecary to be used to create poison in order to fight a shadow war with another rising thieves guild?
Can you even participate in the assassination of a guard captain whose only crime was dedication to his job and capturing a key thief in the process?
And as time goes on more worrisome developments take place. The potentially invading kingdoms have begun extending their feelers into the meanest parts of the kingdom and are enlisting guild members for great sums to sabotage their own kingdom, kill their own nobles and disrupt their own military. Is it worth it to keep to the code of survival?
And what if the thieves discovers devices being built for an internal takeover? Are these even safe enough to steal or fence? Will the thieves guild become something more?
Or will they endure like they always have with the will, the tact, and the reckless determination to snatch, dart, and return what they're sent to without question, without discouragement, and without being seen?

3: Non-Human Show

It's not easy to do, not at all, but what about a show that focused on something other than humans?
You could anthropomorphize the characters still to a certain degree, but how many people out there are fans of stories like The Warriors about tribes of cats or the Silverwing series about tribes of bats? The video game Tokyo Jungle had the concept of a world after the extinction of mankind in which animals of many different kinds were struggling for survival. Of course the popularity of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic I'd argue comes from the in this time fairly unique idea of a world inhabited by something other than humans so their problems are...or rather WERE...not just human problems. 
(I'm not going to get into the recent changes to the show or I'll just get mad XD)
If animals isn't your cup of tea, how about Robots? How cool would it be to have a show in which EVERY character was a sentient, or even semi-sentient robot? The video game Scrapland investigated this idea, and the movie 9 postulated the same notion only with very small robots scrambling around a post-apocolyptic city. Robots would be intriguing because of the way their society would be like ours but radically different. 'Death' would have a different meaning entirely when they might be capable of functioning without limbs or entire sections of their bodies as long as their minds remained intact, and they could easily swap out limbs for different functions and survive under conditions it would be impossible for a human to.
For something even crazier imagine a world of monsters. Some installments of the video game series Legacy of Kain presents a world mostly inhabited by vampires. The dynamics between them remain similar to humans but with many differences such as vampires having ranks based on their evolutions, vampires not dying entirely after death but becoming vengeful soul reavers, and vampires have a unique connection to the Pillars of Nosgoth which control the fate of the world. Something that might have been generic fantasy with humans involved becomes much more interesting when the majority of characters are close enough to being human we can relate them but still so alien they're fascinating to watch.
Imagine a series following the adventures of elves or dwarves instead of just one of each accompanying a generic human hero around. People can relate to things that aren't just other people as long as they can recognize human emotions in those other things. As kids we could enjoy series about creatures that were hybrids of two animals in the Wuzzles and Muppet Babies, Tiny Toon Adventures, Little Bear, The Busy World of Richard Scary and so forth had entirely inhuman societies and worlds of anthropomorphic animals. We seem under the impression that anthropomorphic are only for children and I think that entirely misses the point of the idea behind them.
In Secret of The NIMH and Watership Down (both borderline adult stories in both the book and film) the characters are mostly inhuman, but because of this allow us to look at ourselves without preconceived notions. We can focus directly on our animal natures: recognizing our emotions, our reactions, or choices reflected in other creatures. That's an adult idea, not strictly one for children.
So yes it would be difficult, but wouldn't it be fascinating to see a production in which we experienced stories through inhuman eyes for once?

2: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Survival

You're lost in the wilderness and need to quickly make a camp, find food and water, and some way to keep warm in the cold night ahead.
Also you need to fashion some kind of rudimentary weapon before that dragon comes back.
There's a lot of shows about survival from the perspective of someone in a 'real life' scenario which is all very interesting, but why has no one applied this concept to someone in a genre setting? Even Lost was just a handful of fantastic elements slapped onto a scenario which was practically mundane. Which missed the point in my opinion. What interested me in Lost wasn't the obtuse mysteries, it was the potential danger these people were in. Something giant is knocking over trees inland. That's ominous and interesting; I sure hope these actually find out what it is and maybe make plans as to what to do with it!
Nope. Like so many elements in Lost this was just a one-off cliffhanger thing.
But what if a show laid it's cards on the table from the beginning. An interstellar explorer crash lands on a strange planet or a warrior in a fantasy world is dragged into the woods by monstrous enemy creatures and left to die at the mercy of the wilds. We know we're in a genre story now so something like monsters or magic or weird alien sights won't just be something that shows up briefly and has no point.
Now that little fantastic elements are PART of the story.
How nifty would it be to tune into a program and watch our beleaguered fantasy warrior decide he's going to kill a manticore for food and hide so he spends the episode designing a spear and a shield from whatever he can find? The episode ends with him confronting the beast and finally defeating it, but he's gotten stabbed by it's poisonous tail so now he needs to use the strange plants around him to quickly develop a cure. Or maybe our space explorer stumbles across a pool of water with an alien monster in it and he needs to come up with a way of luring it out so he can claim the water for his own needs?
Each episode of this projected series doesn't need to have more than one major on screen character: the survivor. The settings could be as mundane as a forest, but because of the genre at play there would always be something new and strange to interact with. A space explorer could discover intelligent carnivorous plants that lay traps while a fantasy survivor could find mischievous sprites that mislead him when he goes to hunt but might be convinced to grant a boon...if they're in the mood for it.
The stories could expand beyond the survival scenario based on the backstories. Maybe the space explorer discovers an alien device or ruin and others arrive to try and take it for themselves. The fantasy warrior may want to return to the war he was fighting initially, now armed with knowledge hard learned in the wilderness.
Bear Grylls meets Enemy Mine meets Monster Hunter.
I'd buy that for MORE than a dollar! 

1: Wagon-Train to the Stars

I miss Star Trek.
I miss having a show I could tune into and see something always happening. On Walking Dead I can almost guarantee that NOTHING will be happened. On NCIS the same thing happens over and over again. On Penny Dreadful or Game of Thrones or Black Sails something is usually happening but it's random and usually involves people killing or shouting at each other.
On Star Trek I could anticipate something designed into each episode that would hold my interest. Some kind of new planet would be discovered to visit or something would go wrong with the ship or a character would be required to attend a social function or an alien race would confront the crew. Until the woeful Enterprise you were practically guaranteed that every episode of Trek, even the bad ones, would have SOMETHING going on because the show had the entire universe to play with. Enterprise mistook the term 'realistic' for 'boring'. Yes it's probably more realistic for aliens to be largely uninteresting, for planets to have nothing on them, and for the crew to spend most of the time sleeping and eating...BUT THAT'S NOT INTERESTING.
What is interesting is Captain Picard dealing with Q, the omnipotent being who tries to determine the worthiness of mankind through his reality bending games that are always rigged; Captain Kirk negotiating a settlement between alien races that have been warring for years or encountering a derelict spaceship on which the crew has died under mysterious circumstances; Captain Janeway encountering a planet under the authoritarian control of a sentient computer; Captain Sisko strategizing on ongoing war while weighing the cost of lives against the greater cost if the war was lost. It's a little on the crazy side, but at least something was always HAPPENING.
It was science fiction: it was allowed to craft ridiculous scenarios if they were entertaining and they had some kind of theme to investigate.
Dr. Who is the closest we have no to a science fiction adventure show and although shades of Star Trek are there it doesn't have nearly the dynamic of the 'crew on board a space ship' show. I miss having the idea of a group of characters all with their own roles and histories on board a vessel we got to know as a character. Again, Firefly accomplished this VERY WELL with The Serenity having quite the unique look and personality. I watched and still watch that show to see the ship as much as the crew.
Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek as 'A Wagon-Train to the Stars'.
His idea was to take the concepts of Wild West exploration and transpose it into the future. Everyone onboard The Enterprise had their own function which was applicable to a western equivalent, even down to their names. Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy is nicknamed that because of 'saw-bones' which was a literal term for the function of a doctor in pioneering days. The idea, too long neglected, was that these spaceships were meant to be exploring strange new worlds while the crew developed alongside their journeys. For all it's episodic nature, Star Trek could often transcend the limitations of the need to maintain a status quo by subtly advancing the main cast. Kirk changes throughout the series along with his crew, becoming more worldly and less cocky. The others develop into their niche roles but expand beyond them with Spock discovering his heritage, McCoy falling in and out of love, Uhura becoming as much an ambassador as a technician and so forth. 
So...where's our space exploration shows?
Battlestar Gallactica the remake had space ships just so they could shoot at each other. No one had any time to explore anything. Other attempts to resurrect the Star Trek like show have almost always been parodies of Star Trek itself or just so slavishly devoted to the original series they come across as spoofs even if they take themselves seriously. You don't need constant conflict in order to sustain the interest of a show. There were group discussions and disagreements for every Enterprise crew, but they were still companions and still friends when all was said and done.
The goal was in their motto: 'To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before'
Why then are the recent films convinced that all Star Trek ever was could be defined as flying around and shooting at things? That was the LEAST interesting aspect of any of the series!
StarGate put a great twist on this ideal and it earned a strong following for years.
Early shows like Lexx, Farscape and Blake's 9 still have a cult following and Firefly as mentioned is still being clamored for a resurrection. Every time the space ship style exploration show has shown up it's greeted with excitement, support, and viewership. Enterprise failed I'd say because it ignored those aspects: the ship wasn't interesting and the crew never explored anything.
But for some reason we haven't gotten another good wagon train to the stars in what feels like forever.
If we can have a show based on Game of Thrones, if we can have a show about Penny Dreadfuls and super heroes we sure as heck can get some sci-fi back on the air that isn't just a cop shop with laser guns. Maybe we could adapt a classic sci-fi book like The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov or the sprawling Hyperion saga by Dan Simmons featuring a galactic war between aliens and a divide humanity. Maybe adapt a video game series like Bungie's Marathon featuring a millennium space ship or maybe even FTL in which an intrepid crew battles the perils of space and the insidious rebellion alike.
Whatever happens just let me watch space ships on TV again please? :(

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jarredspekter
Dan
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:iconthatnerdwithglasses:
Thatnerdwithglasses Featured By Owner 13 hours ago  Student
ever played mount and blade?
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 13 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
I haven't. Is it any good?
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:iconthatnerdwithglasses:
Thatnerdwithglasses Featured By Owner Edited 13 hours ago  Student
it's very good :D

thoguht it's a bit lacking on the story

but it makes up for it in how deep it is. saying it puts skyrim to shame would be a understatement 
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 12 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
I did enjoy watching Yahtzee dying constantly on his twitch stream playing that game XD
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(1 Reply)
:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
www.kickstarter.com/projects/1… thoughts on this? Looks pretty interesting
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 17 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
That DOES look interesting O_o
I'm not sure how to take the procedurally generated idea, but the concept sounds worth looking into and they're doing very well!
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:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
what was your favorite batman TAS episode?
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 17 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
Probably not an episode but a movie to be honest.
Sub-Zero: the BEST and most suspenseful version of Mr. Freeze ever made :D
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:iconedthesupersaiyan:
edthesupersaiyan Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
thoughts on "Black Lagoon"?
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:iconjarredspekter:
jarredspekter Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
It's intriguing?
I'm not sure what the point was. I know that stories don't always have to have a 'point' but Black Lagoon seemed to be suggesting some kind of message about life being cruel or the main character becoming a man or...something? At other times it looked like they were parodying action movies with crazy, impossible stunts.
And then they'd have depressing monologues.
It was like Cowboy Beebop but without as much believability. It reminded me of another anime called Mad Jack which had the same issue: a crazy action filled mercenary fantasy but with a weird occasional depressing 'horrors of war' theme.
It left me amused...but confused XD
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