FRIDAY THE 13TH Adaptation Part of Changing CW Network
Jason Voorhees is back….again.
I’m not talking about the sequel to the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th that comes out next year. The CW will be airing a series based around the classic killer come next fall (2016). The show is one of several properties in development at The CW that are based on pre-existing material, all of which points to several trends at the network that are examples of large trends in TV overall.
But let’s start with Jason. This new show takes us back to Crystal Lake in a world where Jason does exist, and so do the movies. The mythology is in place, but the town has recovered and is even prospering and Jason hasn’t been seen in decades. Enter a detective looking for his missing brother and believing that Jason may have something to do with it. And then Jason returns…but is it really Jason? Or is it a copycat? And what secrets are the people of the town hiding? It’s a little Broadchurch, a splash of True Detective, a pinch of Twin Peaks, and a healthy dose of Scream.
But more than any of those, what it really shows is how The CW has changed as a network in recent years. Once upon a time, if it was on The CW (or The WB, back in the day), there were people in high school in it. Sure, there were supernatural themes – Buffy, Roswell, Charmed (which bucked the high school idea, but that was an anomaly), but shows like Gilmore Girls and Dawson’s Creek reigned supreme. It was the home of teen drama, heavy on the angst and hardships of white people growing up in suburbia.
But in recent years, The CW has strayed away from that. In fact, in the 2015 lineup, there isn’t a single show that is set against the backdrop of high school. Yes, the characters are still on the younger side – we’re not going to see a series adaptation of Grumpy Old Men at the network anytime soon – but this is a significant departure from years past.
In addition, the shows have gotten darker. Buffy and Angel managed to get dark at some points, but not nearly as dark as Arrow or Supernatural, which have gotten progressively darker as the shows have continued. And that’s another thing. More and more shows are being targeted at the young male demographic, when it used to be solely targeted at teenage girls.
These changed have been a boon to the network. Jane the Virgin got The CW it’s first Golden Globe nomination and win, and the network felt snubbed by the Emmys for the first time in recent memory. And the shows they are developing now are hot commodities, with recognizable brands, and buzz far in advance of pilot season.
Now, not all of these new ideas are going to work. Little Women is being adapted into a gritty, modern, urban dystopia, so I expect that to either get cut before next fall or fail on the network quickly. They are also developing adaptations of The Notebook and Frequency, neither of which sound like good ideas to me, but I guess that’s why I’m not a development exec. The other property in development is an adaption of Archie Comics, called Riverdale, helmed by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash). Archie has made a comeback in recent years in book form, so it was a natural progression to the screen, and The CW is kind of the perfect home for it.
The CW is also not the only network to be developing series based on films. Both CBS and FOX have adaptations on their fall schedules with Limitless and Minority Report, respectively, and CBS continues into the spring with Rush Hour. And this isn’t a new trend. Hannibal, Bates Motel, Fargo, and that’s just the beginning. Some work, some don’t, but the list continues to grow.
The CW is on the rise, capitalizing on major trends in network TV, and having success with nearly every title on their schedule. We’ll see which of this new crop makes the cut for the Fall 2016 lineup, but I definitely expect to see Friday the 13th there.