February 18, 2006

ZERO EFFECT: The Franchise That Shoulda Been

(Yes, this is a new edit of a post that I promised way back in June 2006 - however, please consider that "procrastinators anonymous" is one of the top search terms for this blog. In addition, since I now write for I Hear of Sherlock, it seemed only proper to revisit this post. Enjoy!)

I'm sitting at Lambert Airport, reading my recently downloaded copy of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" as part of the Discovering Sherlock Holmes series at Stanford, and as I read it - the beginnings of serialized fiction - and felt a familiar tingle, I asked myself one key question.

"Why the hell wasn't Zero Effect a bigger hit?"

Let's face it, Zero Effect took Arthur Conan Doyle's best-known character and transplanted him into late 20th century terms. A loose adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia", Jake Kasdan boiled the very essence of the Sherlock Holmes canon and made it seem like a Hollywood pitchman's wet dream. An eccentric detective (and Bill Pullman was robbed of the Oscar for this performance) and his beleaguered assistant (Ben Stiller) take on the case of a rich man (Ryan O'Neal, whose woodenness is a strategic advantage in this movie) being blackmailed. However, complications ensue as the detective begins falling for a young woman (Kim Dickens, later featured in other movies and series like HBO's Treme).

Let's face it, this is a movie that is sharp, well-written, well-acted, well-directed...but why did it not create a franchise? I mean, surely in this CGI-driven world there's room for a great, quirky mystery series that's created by a guy who isn't Joss Whedon. Not that this blog has anything against Mr. Whedon - just thought it might be cool to give him a breather.

(And by the way, Mom and I watched Serenity - even if you didn't like Firefly: The Complete Series, see this movie. I think that if everyone went and saw Serenity, the world would be a better place. It's a movie they should be making more of, but aren't, and so we're stuck with Basic Instinct 2. Oh, joy.)

Personally, I think it was too far ahead of its time - let's see, we have at least three television shows which feature a sharp, cerebral, socially inept detective/investigator, his assistant (or assistants), almost unsolvable crimes....maybe it's time Mr. Kasdan reconsidered his option.

Zero Effect: The Series...Hell, I'd watch. I'm even willing to chip in a few bucks towards production costs. Who's with me?

(Interesting postscript - there was a Zero Effect pilot that was never picked up. Go figure).

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