Friday, May 31, 2013

Reboots, Kids, and their Interest, by Matthew MacNish



So last weekend I took my kids to Star Trek, Into Darkness, which, in spite of some huge writerly no-nos (sorry J.J. Abrams, you're not quite Joss Whedon) was a really entertaining film. The oldest had seen the original 2009 reboot, but she wasn't nearly as excited over it (partially because she's a Cumberbatch zealot, but that's neither her nor there) as she was this one.

I'm not sure I blame her. Sure, the first reboot was better written, with better character arcs, and a more direct progression of plot and conflict, but there was something about this new one, something just a little bit beyond the edge of consciousness, that really whet the appetite.

Is it the CGI? Perhaps. The additional casting? Surely Benedict played a part. The gimmick of 3D tech? I doubt it. So when does an inferior tale present an exciting thoroughfare that brings new fans into the fold of an existing franchise?

Well, I'm not marketing guru, but I would argue that the nature of the medium of film plays a big part, especially when combined with the instant gratification high sparkle high contrast advertisement nature of modern culture, but I don't think that's enough to explain it all. I think the existing franchise of Star Trek is the biggest factor in why my kids are now so fascinated with every iteration of its canon.

Similar arguments can be made for The Lord of the Rings, and even Star Wars. Heck, even the Harry Potter movies surely brought more readers to the books. But is it only movies that do this? I'm curious.

BBC's Sherlock inspired my teenager to obtain and read the entire works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

ABC's Once Upon a Time has my younger daughter curious about reading fairy tales.

But those are both TV shows. What about books? I can't personally think of a book series that was rebooted years later, whether by the original author or not, but surely there is one out there? Readers? Can you think of any?

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52 comments:

  1. I can't think of a pure reboot, although there are plenty of retellings.

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    1. There's got to be one out there somewhere! And no, I'm not counting Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

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    2. Just wanted to say, not all retelling are bad, some are at least decent, but I agree series retelling or reboots can go horridly wrong, but sometimes that's the fault of either the acting or trying to change it too much. The writing, too, as mentioned above.

      I can't speak to books series specially, but as far as movies and television adaptations, they can be fun departures that respect the source material, even if they don't use it as a bible, I think it can work out easier for series that never started as a book or comic.

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  2. Matilda is on Broadway now. I wonder if it is as good as the movie made from the book.

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  3. The only type of reboot I can think of in writing are Marvel comics! No novels come to mind, other than the classic novels and fairy tales (the Grimm Brothers' and Hans Christian Andersen's in particular) that are often re-imagined, especially recently. When you think about it, this rebooted Star Trek series is a re-imagining of the classic series, so I suppose all of these recent retellings in novels are pure reboots.

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  4. I frickin LOVED Into Darkness. LOVED IT.
    And i really feel like there's an obvious book reboot that i just can't think of. Maybe it will come to me

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    1. I love it too, even though some of the plot twists were totally cheats.

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  5. Little House on the Prairie. (I have no idea what you mean by a reboot BTW). Adaptations from Book Series to TV/Movie series have definitely been done.

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    1. A reboot is when a series (it's usually done with films, like Batman Begins, or Star Trek 2009) is re-imagined, or a new episode or volume is released years or even decades after the original(s). I'm not sure it's ever really been done with books. I can't think of any examples, at least.

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  6. Not a reboot but a re-release: The Animorphs series, which I believe had gone out of print, was re-released last year, I believe.

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    1. Ooh, cool. Not exactly the same thing, but still - very cool.

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    2. No, not the same, and say what you will about reboots, I'm FOR re-issues. Re-issues are GOOD!

      One of my favorite books I've read this year, "The Wainscot Weasel" by Tor Seidler is getting re-issued next year, and I have a used copy of the hardcover, and bought a new paperback (Ink on one page was still wet, freshly pressed, I guess, even though I had the book, I wanted to support the author buying new [When it was still in print years ago] when I could) and hardcover editions, and it wasn't eligible for a book club I take part in because it was out of print(A rule of the book club, which I didn't know at the time, that book being out of print, I mean), and I so want to recommend that book on my blog, but not everyone is willing to hunt down out of print books, especially if you can only find collector editions that go for hundreds.

      I'm reviewing the book when the reissue's out, and I may buy a copy to give away, because this book needs to be rediscovered.

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  7. There have definitely been reboots(?) of older books, movies etc. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz animated TV cartoon and Pippi Longstocking are examples. Not in the least like the originals but still with the same characters.

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    1. Oh yeah. I had heard of some of those. Thanks!

      Here't the Wikipedia article on general rebooting of fiction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reboot_(fiction)

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    2. I think in children's books it is more prevalent. There is Winnie the Pooh to which new stories were added along with what you might define as a reboot using the 'baby' version of the characters.

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    3. Is that the same thing, though? I was thinking you meant a book series that was edited and rereleased, Matt.

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    4. This is all a little confusing, because there are re-issues, re-releases (new cover), and other ways franchises can change, but a reboot is very speficic (see the Wiki article above).

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  8. Writers are rebooting fairy tales- there have been a ton of rewrites done on the old fables.
    ~Summer
    My Blog

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    1. I have rebooted the Princess and the Pea. I set it in Japan, changed the story a bit, and called it 100 Futons and 1 Grain of Rice.

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  9. I wrote a new book (The Man in the Cinder Clouds) and rebooted the Santa Clause legend. Does that count?

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    1. I would call that a retelling. I'm not sure rebooting applies to folktales, but who knows? Maybe.

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  10. Reboots help remind us of stories long or recently told. Whether movies are books it's not

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    1. Exactly. They can be a lot of fun.

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  11. Having seen ST Into Darkness TWICE (oh YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I can totally understand the Cumberbatch effect. Sigh. And I do so hope they (they who hold the purse strings!) continue this particular ST re-boot cos it's got me excited about being a Trekker AGAIN after wandering lost and forlorn in the ST desert. I'm thinking next film - gotta be the Klingons... anyway, where were we!??!

    Book re-boots - what a about the up and coming new James Bond novel penned by the amazing William Boyd!?!? I for one cannot wait even he totally dislikes the new JB film franchise! LOL!!

    Take care
    x

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  12. Books don't need reboots, because the book is always just the book. Reboots usually get made because the visuals of the first are too old and don't look as good as they could now. Or there is a new creative team that wants to start over. Books don't have those issues.
    Although, now, I'm wondering what a reboot of Oliver Twist might look like. It is public domain so, theoretically, anyone could do it.

    The first Abrams Star Trek had a lot of dumb in it (red matter, ST time travel (always dumb)); this new one really left all that dumb out.

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    1. I'm not sure anything ever NEEDS a reboot, but I see your point.

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    2. I don't quite agree with some of you points, Andrew, but I will say I'd be enraged if Fred Marcelino's illustrations for either "A Rat's Tale" or "The Wainscot Weasel" (Both written by Tor Seidler, a favorite author of mine), that I mentioned in an earlier comment were replaced.

      Even if they weren't bad illustrations, the original art's stellar as is. Not everything has to be neon green or silver and slick to be appreciated by kids today, and I don't want to sound like an old stick in the mud, but old-fashioned looking isn't always "Evil." There, I've said it.

      So, I certainly object to needless illustration changes, even if the cover changes a little.

      Okay, I can chill out now.

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  13. Generally speaking, I'm not in favor of reboots, either, which is why I like what they've done with Star Trek. It's less a reboot and more an alternate time line. It makes it more interesting.

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    1. That's a valid point, there. I don't tend to care for them either, but The Dark Knight is one of my all time favorite movies.

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  14. For books that have been reboots, Sherlock Holmes itself was rebooted after ten years when Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock and the public demanded more.

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    1. I actually knew that, but had totally forgotten. Thanks, Steve!

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  15. depending on how you define reboot, what about when the roald dahl books were reprinted with the quinten blake art replacing previous editions. for me the ONLY version of "charlie and the chocolate factory" has the joseph schindelman art (i understand UK editions had a different illustrator for first editions). likewise with "james and the giant peach" and nancy ekholm burkert. and if you have never read "the magic finger" with william pene du bois' original illustrations then you are truly missing half the magic of what was originally a picture book now turned into a week novella.

    my personal nostalgia aside, i would argue the blake "reboots," which were done at dahl's request, actually pale in comparison. the unify dahl's books in a way that creates a sort of visual universe at the expense of each book's best qualities - the story.

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    1. Oh my, David. I consider myself a huge Dahl fan, but I was not aware of these details. Thank you so, so much!

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  16. I know this is different, but books aside, some things NEED reboots, if only because things were technically challenged or lacked needed polish, while not altering what worked in the first place.


    Think of all the video game series that have been rebooted in the last decade-

    Devil May Cry


    Mortal Kombat


    Tomb Raider (I played part of Angel of Darkness, and let me tell you, ANY game after AOD was a necessary step up, glad I only RENTED AOD...)

    Since AOD, we've had both Legend (2006) and its follow ups, a spin-off on-the-rails game, and now the 2012 reboot, I haven't played it, only because those death animations turn me off, even though I get why they're in there.

    Note, I haven't played any of these series except Tomb Raider, I just know at least in TR's case, reboots were necessary, just from a gameplay perspective at the very least.


    That said, I don't like the re-branding of old school board games like Twister or hungry hungry hippos, took out all the charm, and made them generic shells of their former selves, apart from Monopoly (licensed offshoots aside) and "Guess Who?" charming board games are hard to come by.

    Does everything have to be "Generic cheesy hologram looking" to be 21st century relevant?

    I mean, really, and don't get me started on Elefun and Mouse Trap...

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    1. You make an interesting point! I think video games are a little different, because the tech changes so fast (software engines) vs. film and books. That said, it's still a similar concept.

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  17. Mmm... I don't think there are writing re-boots... wait. If a reboot is a writer releasing a revised edition after the first, then Ender's Game is one. :-)

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    1. That's similar, Misha, but not quite the same.

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  18. I love me a good reboot. The latest Batman movies and Spiderman. LOVE. Can't think of any book reboots, though. Well, there was the Nancy Drew one which was kind of a reboot, in that it was a movie which sort of updated Nancy. Not sure if that counts.

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    1. I think I would call the Nancy Drew movie a bit of a reboot, Carol, yeah. I was looking for a book on book reboot, but the Nancy Drew applies half way, at least.

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  19. *Stomps feet* I STILL haven't seen it, darn it!

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  20. I need to see Into Darkness again; the first time I was just blown away, but the second time, I'll be able to pick up some of the weaknesses a little better! The 2009 version and this one have totally hooked my kids on StarTrek, though with all the high tech polish of the new movies, I'll be curious if they'll be able to go back and enjoy the slower, less glitzy older movies and TV shows.

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    1. They're not perfect, but they're a lot of fun. They definitely turned my kids on the the franchise.

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  21. As a kid I read the Hardy Boys Casefiles. I thought those were originals until my dad laughingly showed me all his old Hardy Boys books from the 50s. I read both. Seems like those were a reboot. I believe Dixon's son wrote the second series.

    As an aside, I loved Star Trek as a kid, sort of got away from it (too uncool for highschool and college), but then the 2009 film rekindled that excitement and the recent release has fueled it even more. My husband and I have decided to rewatch all the old episodes and continue through the series as long as we can stand it. LOL.

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!