Fox Kids has announced the development of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an animated series for Saturday mornings in 2002. An excellent series, Buffy should adapt well to animation.
In fact, many live-action series fare well in their animated reincarnations. Such cartoonizations as Star Trek, Men in Black and Batman: The Animated Series were as good or (especially in Batman’s case) better than the original source.
But when Hollywood goes the other way-transforming toons into live action-all bets are off. The idea of doing a live-action Flintstones, Mr. Magoo or Dudley Do-Right sounds like fun for a few minutes, but the end result leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Now comes this year’s live-action feature Josie and the Pussycats and next year’s Scooby Doo. But neither of these adaptations appear to be aiming to please the core nostalgic fanbase that they might have in their favor. Josie seems to be doing everything it can to avoid any comparison to the original Hanna-Barbera cartoons or Archie comics. If you are going to do that, why license and adapt the show in the first place?
Scooby goes the other way. The publicity photos make it seem like a camped-up sketch from the old Carol Burnett Show, with exaggerated costumes and settings. If I liked the original cartoons, I’d be offended by this approach.
But what really breaks my heart is to see two of my favorite TV teens in the leading roles. Sarah Michelle Geller, who heads her own ‘Scooby gang’ as Buffy, is Daphne, and Freaks and Geeks’ Linda Cardellini is the nerdy Velma. This is Hollywood stunt-casting at its finest. Despite heavy make-up and wardrobe, neither looks right for the part.
Who would I cast as the live-action Scooby Gang? How about Adam Sandler, Tom Green or David Arquette as Shaggy (all three seem in tune with the `Scooby snack’ frame of mind), sexy Heather Graham as Daphne (‘yeah, baby!’), and out-of-the-closet Ellen Degeneres as the bookish Velma. As long as I have my casting director’s hat on, why stop there? Say, Hollywood, what about these suggestions? Jackie Chan as Hong Kong Fooey. Norm McDonald as George Jetson, and David Spade as ‘his boy Elroy.’ What about Drew Carey as Yogi Bear, Regis Philbin as Top Cat, and Oprah Winfrey as Peter Potomus?
On second thought, what am I doing? I’m against all these cartoon/live-action remakes. Hollywood can produce its own two-dimensional live-action movies without the help of our favorite animated TV stars. I say we start a movement to reverse this trend. For instance, why not animate Judy Jetson as Erin Brockovich, cast Snagglepuss as Gladiator, or put Huckleberry Hound in Cast Away?
I understand they’ll work for scale.