Straight from the “Oh, they’re still doing that?” department comes news that producer Sean Cunningham is indeed still trying to make a Friday the 13th TV series. Nearly a year ago, Deadline first reported that Cunningham and several others were “developing a story line which re-imagines Jason Voorhees in multiple time periods” in the hopes of appealing both to existing fans of Friday the 13th and new audiences intrigued by “the situations and characters that inhabit the small town of Crystal Lake.” I personally took that to mean they were going to do their own Bates Motel with Jason in for Norman, his mother in for Norma, and Crystal Lake in for Bates Motel’s crazy ass, pot farm-loving, sex slave-peddling town straight out of Twin Peaks. Of course, they said “multiple time periods” so I figured there would be a framing device positioning everything as flashbacks experienced by a present-day Jason stalking victims from the shadows. However, I didn’t put much stock into any of it because there was no network attached – it was just a bunch of people representing various different production companies announcing their intent to make a TV show. Great. Good luck on that. At least this one was actually going to involve Jason Voorhees, unlike the old Friday the 13th TV series whose connection to the films was in name only.
Things have seriously changed in the year since all of that. Appearing at Monster-Mania Convention a couple of weeks ago, Sean Cunningham laid out what has become of the proposed TV series at this point:
1. The setting will still be Crystal Lake but a “real Crystal Lake” whose dark history inspired the Friday the 13th movies. The recent quasi-Town that Dreaded Sundown sequel took that same approach, except in that case there really is a town and masked killer that inspired the events depicted in the 1976 cult classic.
2. Jason will not be the central killer, ala the way MTV’s Scream apparently won’t feature Ghostface. This is because in the world of this TV series Jason Voorhees will simply be the fictional killer featured in almost every Friday the 13th movie, but unlike our real world they will posit that there actually was a real Crystal Lake killer that inspired the creation of Jason. This “real life Jason” will be the killer of the show, Cunningham describing him as a “more serious backwoods inspired killer.” No word yet on whether this guy will have a similar hockey mask fetish.
3. The CW has an expressed interest in the project. That might seem surprising since the CW is the land of superheroes, vampires, and love triangles, but the network is 10 seasons into its run of the often horror movie-like Supernatural, recently ordered a pilot for a Tales from the Darkside revival as well as a pilot for Cheerleader Death Squad, although everyone assumes it’s a horror thing based off the title when in fact it’s actually more like Charlie’s Angels in high school.
Part of me thinks this all sounds like a terrible idea. The history of the Friday the 13th franchise is ripe with examples of the pitfalls of not giving the audience what it wants, which is clearly to see Jason Voorhees hacking and slashing nubile teens. Don’t give us a buy pretending to be Jason, and don’t give us Jason’s demonic black heart infecting and possessing a bunch of random people. Just give us the dude in the hockey mask, hand him a gnarly machete, and set him free. However, I don’t know how you really do that as a TV show, and I frankly don’t care enough about Jason Voorhees as an actual character to truly muster any enthusiasm for any kind of Bates Motel-like prequel, if that’s indeed what they had originally planned a year ago.
Another part of me kind of loves this new direction because it’s the first time I’ve actually thought that they might have a real, workable TV show on their hands. Of course, if Cunningham is involved I honestly don’t expect it to be of a particularly high quality (no offense to him or anything, but even his old co-workers and actors interviewed in the Crystal Lake Memories documentary admit he’s not a particularly talented filmmaker), and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s maybe exaggerating CW’s interest level. At this point, I’ll only truly believe this is a real thing once the CW orders a pilot. I alsohave my doubts about whether or not Paramount’s 2016 Friday the 13th movie will actually happen, but they did just hire a screenwriter.
Ultimately, Nightmare on Elm Street had its brief flirtation with meta in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and it was kind of great even though it bombed. Maybe it’s about time Friday the 13th took a crack at it.
What about you? Does this new direction intrigue you? Enrage you? Or just alarmed that the current state of pop culture is such that a Friday the 13th TV series might actually happen?