We live in a world of reboots. Whether it’s the continuation of a story, like NBC’s #WillAndGrace, or a complete reimagining, like Fox’s #LethalWeapon, filmmakers on both the small and silver screen are taking old stories and giving them a new spin.
In the near future, you’ll see reboots of #Jumanji, #TheRocketeer, #TheNakedGun and #IndianaJones (and #BladeRunner, #IT, and the blu-ray release of #SpiderMan). And really, that’s just scratching the surface.
What do they all have in common? They’re well-known properties with a built-in audience and not a lot of surprise behind them. We get the gist. We know the story.
It begs the question: Why aren’t filmmakers searching for hidden gems? If studios are intent on rebooting owned properties, why not dig through the archives to find the best least known idea out there? Something that was ahead of its time?
Something like #DrShrinker!
Dr. Shrinker! Dr. Shrinker! He’s a Mad Man With an Evil Mind!
Dr. Shrinker debuted on ABC’s Saturday morning lineup as one of several short series broadcast during The Krofft Supershow (other series included Wonderbug and Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl).
The premise was simple. A trio of 20-somethings – Brad, B.J. and her brother Gordie – crash on a mysterious island. Thinking it deserted, they soon discover the strange laboratory of Dr. Shrinker. Dr. Shrinker, wanting to prove his evil genius to the world, uses his newly invented shrink ray to shrink the trio to six inches tall. They escape and Shrinker chases them across the island - over and over and over again.
Essentially, this was #Lost meets Honey, I Shrunk the Kids before there was a Lost and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
At the time, it was a low-budget, 10-minute segment with a repeated storyline. "I chase the Shrinkies. I catch the Shrinkies. The Shrinkies escape. It's a vicious cycle and it's driving me mad!" as Dr. Shrinker once explained. But, man, with today’s effects technology, Dr. Shrinker could be one helluva fun ride.
Adapted for a 21st Century Audience
Sid and Marty Kroft vehicles seem to get the reboot every once in awhile. Land of the Lost first debuted in 1974, was rebooted on TV in 1991 and fizzled with Will Ferrell on the big screen in 2009. A reboot of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters debuts on Amazon in October 2017. And Electra Woman and Dyna Girl got a pilot for a TV series in 2001 and a film in 2016.
Most of those reboots spun the old kid shows into cheesy, farcical affairs, either making them overly adult, generally nonsensical or both. None succeeded, more often than not for just those reasons.
Better to lean in to the strength of the simple story. That’s how you adapt Dr. Shrinker for a 21st century audience. If we accept men and women who can fly, stick to walls, are impervious, have claws in their forearms, and regularly battle similar humans, aliens, mystics and monsters, then watching three Millennials get zapped down to six inches is totally believable.
Spinning that story into one of survival is where the fun begins. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids did an amazing job of turning a backyard into a jungle for its four Shrinkies. Imagine an entire island and all the tiny dangers our heroes could encounter. Snakes, spiders and birds become terrifying monsters. Rivers become treacherous oceans to navigate. Not to mention a human the equivalent size of King Kong coming for you.
Then you expand the story. There could be other Shrinkies on the island. Previous victims of Dr. Shrinker’s experiments. Some good, some bad, driven crazy by the process. By the end of the film, you’ve created a Lilliputian army ready to take down Shrinker and get their lives - and height - back.
Heavy adventure, tons of action, tension-releasing humor and a Saturday-morning earnestness would certainly launch a new franchise.