Another Replicant alert

Blade2Imagine, in Richard Burton’s voice:  “No-one would have believed, in the last years of the twentieth century, that Replicant affairs would be increasingly watched from the darkened living-rooms of VHS and Blu-ray owners. No-one could have dreamed that Blade Runner’s video sales were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few fans even considered the possibility of sequels. And yet, across the gulf of Hollywood, minds immeasurably greedier than ours regarded this film’s long-lasting  popularity with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us…”

Reading the announcement last night that Ridley Scott is executive-producing a television series, Blade Runner 2099, for Amazon Studios…  filled me with a mixture of excitement (hey, more Blade Runner!), dismay (television series?) and a creeping sense of terror (Ridley?).

At least its Amazon that brought the rights and is financing it, so it won’t be stuck behind a paywall like that Blade Runner anime (I’m possibly fortunate regards that, as its reportedly pretty poor) so hey, I’ll be able to watch it. If I dare.

So anyway, more Blade Runner. You know, if you could go back in time to me in the early/mid-‘eighties and tell me about all the Blade Runner stuff that would be going on post-millennium, the Final Cut, Harrison Ford appearing in a Blade Runner documentary and also in a sequel movie, and yeah, a sequel movie actually being bloody good too…. Well, I remember the days when few people, if any, had even heard of Blade Runner, and the few that had seen it had mostly seen it on horrible pan n’ scan versions on VHS or Betamax. As I have stated before, Blade Runner was the very definition of ‘Cult’.

I texted my mate Andy about Blade Runner: 2099; we saw the original film together back in September 1982 and dozens of times on video over the years since. His response was one of tired resignation. I’m done with all these sequels and reboots, he told me. He’d got no interest left. He may have a point: BR2049 was a fortuitous event, when the various creative talents aligned, just as they had with the 1982 film, to create something possibly greater than the sum of its parts. Its something which can’t be said for the Alien franchise, albeit I appreciate some prefer Aliens over the original 1979 film. Given time enough, Blade Runner‘s luck is sure to run out, and I’d hate for the original to be tarnished by it.

I suppose that its not fair, really, describing a project as ‘television’ when its likely an eight-or ten-part series made for a huge amount of money for something like Amazon or Netflix or Disney+ or AppleTV, its not really television the way that people of my generation instinctively think about it, Its a different beast now.

But I’d prefer to have had Villeneuve in creative control over it rather than Ridley. Ridley failed to energise the Alien franchise (one could argue his Prometheus and Alien: Covenant did as much harm as good, although others would argue that in the latter’s case, he had to contend with lots of studio mandates that fatally damaged the film) and even as one of his biggest fans I always rile at his assertion that Deckard was a Replicant. Obviously he is attracted to the intellectual idea, rather than how it supports the narrative in any way: I think the narrative of the Blade Runner films is better served by Deckard being human, but I appreciate the fact that in the two films it can be viewed either way. Maybe the series being set in 2099 will give sufficient distance that the subject isn’t even raised.

5 thoughts on “Another Replicant alert

  1. I suppose this was inevitable — it’s an IP with a fan base, but ‘proven’ to ‘fail’ at the cinema, so what next? TV! I can’t imagine Ridley will be involved in the day-to-day running of the show — maybe he’ll provide ideas, or take an overview; or maybe it’ll be “in name only”, intended as a sop to fans. Hopefully whoever’s directly in charge has some good ideas, not just “it looks so moody and cool! Let’s do more stuff that looks moody and cool!”

    1. I think television is likely the perfect home for Blade Runner (its clearly never been a fit in the cinema as films because they don’t strike a sufficient chord with enough punters to validate the expense) but even on television, only if its done right, and television has plenty of examples of Blade Runner-knock offs that show how easily it is to go wrong.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    It’ll suck. It’ll be bland as anything. We really lucked out getting Villeneuve for 2049. Not even Scott could cloud that talent. With Scott exec-producing on this, we’ll just get directors from RSA and standard TV hacks shooting it.

    And tbh, all the ‘extended universe’ stuff I’ve come across has been crap – the comics and novels and what-have-you.

    Blade Runner seems set to live as long as a real human, but sometimes I wish it had the lifespan of a Nexus 6.

    1. Ridley’s been trying -with Prometheus and that mess of a series, Raised By Wolves- to revisit Blade Runner’s themes etc via the back door so I’m certainly concerned at where he will push this as exec producer. I’m also pretty certain that if schedules allow he’ll be directing the first ep, if not more. How could he resist the opportunity to show us where Villeneuve got everything wrong?

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