One of my favorite aspects of ESPN.com’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback is when Gregg Easterbrook goes off on a bizarre non sequitur. Today’s edition is no different, when he decides to go off on paranormal detective shows:
In Development at HBO: a Fantasy Show About a Studio Executive Who Cannot Be Fired: Fox’s fall lineup includes a show about “a detective who has been granted eternal life.” At least till he’s canceled! ABC’s fall lineup includes a show about a detective who can resurrect the dead. The CBS fall lineup includes a show about a private investigator who is a century-old good vampire. Absurd as these pitches sound, bear in mind that recent television series and movies have had as their premise: a detective who can see into the past (“Déjà Vu”), a detective who can see the future (“Minority Report”), a detective who can travel into the past (“Timecop”), a detective who becomes a sorcerer (“Witchblade”), a detective who endlessly relives the same day (“Day Break”), an amateur detective who endlessly relives the same day (“Premonition”), an amateur detective who can speak to the dead (“Ghost Whisperer”), a detective who can speak to the dead and endlessly relive the same day (“Tru Calling”), a detective who can send radio messages into the past (“Frequency”), a detective who died and then returned to life (“Brimstone”), a private investigator who is a 2-century-old good vampire (“Angel”), a detective of sorts with psychic powers (“Medium”), a detective who instantly recovers from any wound (“Painkiller Jane”), a detective who was kidnapped by space aliens (“The X Files”), a detective whose partner is a space alien (“Alien Nation”), a detective who uses technology given to him by space aliens (“Earth: Final Conflict”) and at least five older shows and movies about detectives who are actually machines (“The Six Million Dollar Man,” “The Bionic Woman,” “RoboCop” the movie, “RoboCop” the series, and the upcoming “Bionic Woman” remake). What possible ridiculous detective series premises are left? Looking into Hollywood’s future, I see:
“300 Minus One.” A rift in the space-time continuum hurls King Leonidas forward from the battle of Thermoplyae to modern-day Los Angeles, where he prowls the streets avenging the innocent and seeking out Persians. Armed only with a sword and six-pack abs, Leonidas blends in with the contemporary Los Angeles crowd by screaming into a cell phone and filing lawsuits. In the pilot, Leonidas uses some rare gold coins to buy a Porsche, then attempts to hitch horses to it.
“Alchemist.” A police detective discovers an ancient book containing mystical spells that turn sand into diamonds or dogs into griffins. The spells make him invincible — except they only work during a full moon!
“St. John the Vampire Slayer.” Some Pentecostals maintain that a Gospel verse means the apostle John cannot die and walks the Earth to this day. Arriving in Los Angeles, St. John (Ving Rhames) becomes a police detective in order to gain access to 911 information: He plans to rescue the helpless, heal the sick and cast out demons. That ability to speak any language, granted at the Pentecost, sure comes in handy on today’s L.A. streets. Out on his first night radio call, St. John is shocked to discover Los Angeles is infested with vampires, ghouls and succubae. After taking kickboxing classes, John draws together a band of street-tough followers and sets out to rid Los Angeles of the undead. Each week, he must face his archenemy, the Spawn of Satan (Jenna Elfman). MSNBC gushes, “Crossover appeal to the ‘Buffy’ college crowd and ‘Left Behind’ fundamentalists!”
“Codename Lemon Drops.” It’s the year 2024 and aging Harry Potter, hard up for cash to put James, Lily and Albus Severus through college, takes a job as an inspector with Scotland Yard.
“She Hears Bells.” Joan of Arc is reincarnated into the body of a Manhattan detective. Using unorthodox interrogation techniques such as the rack and the Iron Lady, Det. Joan Dark proves able to wring a confession from anyone. Her desire to dress as a man puts her right at home in the modern gender-confused New York nightclub scene. When the city is attacked by Canada and the wimpy government wants to surrender, it’s up to Joan to rally the people to resist oppression.
“Wireless.” A detective finds a mysterious cell phone that enables him to place calls to the dead who are stranded in a never-world until their murders are solved. You won’t believe the roaming charges!
This wouldn’t be so bad if some of the made-up shows don’t sound like the best thing ever! “Wireless” sounds like a legit concept. And, while more of a stretch, I’d be the first person to tune in to “St. John, The Vampire Slayer.”
The worst part? Those shows are a sight better than pretty much every show on the Sci-Fi Network.