Even more offerings from the bargain bin of nostalgia
“The future is the past, the past is the future; it all gives me a headache.”
Thus spoke Capt. Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager, after her ship and crew had indeed found themselves “caught in one of these godforsaken paradoxes” she swore she’d avoid after earning her place in the big chair.
There’s a couple of plot points that make Janeway’s Lament relevant this week.
First, of course, is the godforsaken paradox that we’ll all be waking up an hour earlier than usual Sunday since our internal clocks can’t fall back as easily as those on our nightstands.
The other time-travel headache can be summed up in two words that I’d never thought I’d be typing again.
She was the titular character of a mid-1980s sitcom that lasted as long as it did because of its appeal to young girls of a certain age and their parents, and yet now ... 31 years after ending its 88-episode run with a show focusing on a secondary character marrying a dog ... is coming back to life.
And — Holy Macanoli! — would you believe it, but in the series revival our heroine is a divorced mother of three. She’ll have to muster all the Punky Power that still might exist somewhere in the universe to make things right.
I get it. Honestly, I do. It’s such a trend now to reach into the dusty archives of television for revivals and reboots — there’s a “Mad About You” revival that’s being touted as a “special event” starting next month, and revivals of “Saved By The Bell” and “Nash Bridges” gestating — that eventually the fickle finger of fate would point to “Punky Brewster.”
But there’s something else going on here.
ABC once had a week filled with cast reunions disguised as guest stars on their current show (“Hey, look!” There’s two of the four witches from “Charmed” on “Grey’s Anatomy”!)
The current film releases “The Irishman” and “Gemini Man” use techno-gizmo wizardry to let moviegoers see younger versions of Robert DeNiro and Will Smith. “Little Women” is about to hit the big screen once again. The Eagles have announced a tour where they’ll play the complete “Hotel California” album at each stop.
Broadway’s trend of “jukebox musicals” continues with shows based on the lives and music of Tina Turner, David Byrne and Alanis Morisette. (Speaking of child stars, when does a revival of “You Can’t Do That On Television” prove you can do that on television?)
There’s also a musical in the planning stages based on the life and music of Michael Jackson, which — depending on what direction that takes (and who has the final say over the book) — has the potential to be all kinds of bizarre.
Revivals are nothing new to the stage, of course. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is returning for the fourth time to Ashland’s Oregon Cabaret Theatre — but it sure seems as though every time is time to do the time warp again.
“The future is the past, the past is the future.”
And the present ...?
Well, we know all too well about the present: It holds no easily accessible outlet for escapism. It’s a painful time with hard truths, a time wherein reality itself is up for grabs — a shape-shifter siphoned through the strainer of individual beliefs.
The present offers, among other morality lessons and socially corrective approaches that dominate entertainment offerings, a miniseries being produced that is based on the memoirs of former FBI Director James Comey.
Comey will be portrayed by Jeff Daniels — whose roles include Atticus Finch, and either “Dumb” or “Dumber.” President Donald Trump will be portrayed by Brendan Gleeson — whose roles include Winston Churchill and Harry Potter ally “Mad Eye” Moody.
Regardless of how you choose to think of the actors, it’s possible we all agree on one thing ... does anyone really need to see this played out on our TV screens so soon? I mean, it took 31 years to get back to Punky Brewster.
Our future commercial arts will continue to be dominated by our past — as creative type rummage through the bargain bins of the nostalgia supermarkets to see what titles can be rearranged into easily consumed morsels for the masses.
It was ever thus; ever it shall be. Maybe the world is blind, or just a little unkind. Some of us won’t let it trouble our weary minds, while others will suffer nagging headaches.
Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin suffers from Janeway’s Lament at firstname.lastname@example.org