Monday, May 18, 2015

Thank C'thulhu It's Friday?

Every once in a while, I have an idea that takes a long time to post to this blog mainly because to do so is to admit that I'm never going to be able to actually get it done the way I want to do it. I'm never going to be a TV professional who can get a series greenlit, especially not one that is so aggressively subversive and uncommercial as to never stand even the slightest chance of being able to stay on the air long enough to achieve the goal I have for it. Which is why I'm breaking down and blogging about it here.

What I wanted to do was a sitcom in the vein of 'Family Ties', 'Full House', 'Just the Ten of Us', 'Family Matters', 'Growing Pains' of those utterly saccharine family comedies that proliferated when I was a kid and teen. You know the kind of thing I mean--every issue resolved in thirty minutes, families that comedy-bicker but never say anything really mean, annoying next-door neighbor kids that are practically surrogate children, new kids added at semi-regular intervals as the old ones age out of adorability, Serious Episodes that are painfully earnest, jokes that are mostly toothless because everyone's really there to spend a half-hour with a family that's nice and pleasant and loves each other...yeah, that's the stuff.

First season would be straight-up pastiche. Adorkable older son who has Girl Problems, Wise and Loving Dad, Warm and Nurturing Mom, bratty kid sister who never admits how much she loves her brother, cute toddler, eerily smart dog, annoying neighbor boy who's stuck on the bratty sister, and all the plots are exactly the kind of low-tension stuff you'd expect from that set-up.

Second season, you'd start to see the kinds of plots that you see in series like this when the writers have gone utterly nuts from boredom and they know nobody really cares anyway. The adorkable brother finds a book of "magic spells" at a garage sale, and it turns out to really work! Casting love spells turns out to lead to all sorts of zany complications, and he eventually winds up throwing the book away and promising never to do anything that crazy again! Cue laugh track.

Except that a few episodes later, you find out that bratty little sister found the book in the trash. She starts using it to get petty revenge on the bullies at her school. She gets really good at it, in fact. She starts to rely on magic more and more as the series goes on, and her revenge gets harsher as she does so. By the end of the season, even her family finds her kind of creepy.

But in Season Three, you start rooting for her again. Because someone new has come to town. He's looking for the book. He's not letting anyone get in his way. Sister finds ways to ward the house, but he's constantly prowling, waiting. He finds the annoying boy next door and uses magic to make him into his catspaw, promising him unspecified-as-yet but probably horrible things in return. Kids start disappearing from school, and the evidence leads to Sister. She's framed for murder and has to use magic to cover it up. Season Three ends with her using magic to kill the boy next door in self-defense.

In Season Four, it ramps up more. The man seeking the book kills the mom, and the dad steals the book to use it to resurrect her. But she comes back possessed by demons, and begins working on her own dark agenda. Dad, completely unhinged by this development, refuses to believe she's changed at all and begins helping her...

And so on. Each season would transform the series, very slowly but inexorably and with total, remorseless plot logic, into a Lovecraftian horror series. The characters wouldn't change, but they would react to the world around them as it changes into something unrecognizable and utterly nightmarish.

Now honestly, I know there's no way this would get made. It's a sitcom with the explicit goal of trolling its audience until they change the channel out of sheer revulsion, pushing people as far as they can go until they run away screaming. And horror aficionados, who might appreciate the idea of turning a saccharine-sweet family into good old fashioned nightmare fuel, wouldn't even tune in. By every rational measure, it's doomed. But I have to admit I will never stop loving the idea.


David said...

I'd love this. There maybe a chance that HBO would buy a concept like that....

Dean said...

It kind of reminds me of a live-action roleplaying event I played in years ago, a Lovecraftian horror game set in the world of the Sweet Valley High YA novels. I played the exchange student from Arkham.

Chris said...

Season 5 would have to end with an Elder God showing up and devouring the Earth

Chris said...

I keep coming back to this, because I think it's brilliant. Would the laugh track continue, even as things get progressively more horrifying? I feel like it should.