As a longtime fan of the Friday the 13th movie franchise and all the cheesy, gory joy it brings us, I cannot think of many things more painful to see than a news headline such as this one. But alas, here we are.
It’s being reported that a TV series based on the movie franchise and the silent hockey mask-wearing killer Jason Voorhees is in development at The CW. The potential show is described as horror/crime thriller.
If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because there were reports last year of a Friday the 13th TV series in the works that would be a hour-long drama in which Voorhees would be re-imagined in different time periods.
How much of that attempt at turning the property into a TV show still remains in this current development is not clear, but it sounds like they’re starting from scratch. The previous attempt was to be written by Jordu Schell and Bill Basso, while this new series is to be written by Steve Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle, who created the TV series The Pretender. The duo also wrote episodes for shows like Murder, She Wrote, Alien Nation, NCIS, 24, Tin Man, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Here’s a more detailed description of the show, said to be a “cross between the first season of True Detective and Twin Peaks on acid,” from Mitchell (via Legion of Leia):
”Reimagined as a sophisticated, horror/crime thriller, Friday The 13th is about the ongoing quest of a detective’s search for his missing brother that is somehow tied to Jason Voorhees, a long thought dead serial killer who has now returned to wreak havoc in the new Crystal Lake. The masked Jason is being reimagined with a stronger feel of grounded reality.”
Mitchell then went on to talk in-depth about their vision for the series, including how the existing movies play into all of this:
“What we really wanted to do when they came to us and said, hey let’s do Friday the 13th – I don’t think we really wanted to do a show about a guy with a machete chasing girls in tube tops. We couldn’t do that on a weekly basis. So then we started thinking, so why don’t we do something – because everybody will think, how can you do something with that? – we thought, let’s surprise them.
Well, here’s what interesting. We wanted to kind of reinvent it a little bit. Crystal Lake is not just Crystal Lake anymore. Just this place out in the woods. It’s this thriving town, sort of like Silicon Valley. There are these rich people, a lot of young rich people with a lot of money and a lot of time, neither one well spent, and there’s the old people who grew up in this town. It’s like the town from Jaws. It’s like Amityville 20 years later, and someone says, ‘I think the shark is back.’ Everyone is like, ‘Oh, shit. We can’t have the shark back!’ We’ve finally grown up as a town and we have all this mythology, but it ruined our city.’
So what ends up happening is, a cop comes into town, looking for his brother. He realizes his brother was there searching into the past murders, and realizes that his personal story is tied into Jason’s personal story. Part of the fun of the show is exploring, is this Jason or is this a copycat? Is it possible that Jason has been around all these years? Is Jason a monster? Is he real? Is he a serial killer? And really exploring who and what Jason is, is part of the whole thrill of the show.
What we’re going to do is basically acknowledge that the people came to this town after these killings happened, and they made all these movies. And now the town has a stigma. Our show is, here’s the true story. Here’s the real story of Jason. It’s been taken and exploited. So we have the young crowd who doesn’t know who he is except for what they’ve seen in the movies. The older crowd is afraid of him. We have a lot of people who have scars from him. The underlying thematic of the whole thing is that Jason is a monster in this town. He openly wears a mask. But everybody in this town wears a mask. Underneath those is the monster.”
So there all that is.
Think what you will about The CW and its programming, but Friday the 13th simply does not belong there because it can’t be what fans of the movies love so much about it there. Which is mindless, over-the-top, ooey gooey fun.
As I’ve previously said and as Mitchell mentions above, you can’t do a show based on this franchise and just have Jason running around killing a new group of characters each new episode. Unfortunately for this potential series, that’s what Friday the 13th is all about. Trying to make it what it’s not forces whoever tries to make the show to figure out a way to twist and spin it to try to make it all work. And you get Silicon Valley Crystal Lake. But people don’t like it when you twist and spin stuff they love (see Jem and the Holograms, for a random and completely unrelated example). So let us all hope that this whole TV show nonsense finds the business end of a nice sharp machete soon, and that Jason Voorhees stays where he belongs.