Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tale of Two Fandoms

Recently, Lucy Lawless tweeted that the Xena movie isn't going to happen. While the chances of a Xena movie with the original cast is not going to happen, there's always a chance that Universal will reboot the franchise with an all new cast. Fans are not going to like that, in fact many are pretty much against the idea and will not see it.

Let's talk about a little old soap opera that aired on ABC from 1966-1971. Dark Shadows was the first gothic soap opera and made vampires hip. Before Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries, the ABC soap opera series had cult following that is almost as large as Star Trek. The DS fans hold annual conventions routinely attended by the cast members--both original and the revival series. Several of the cast members have written books about their time on the series.

It was also the start of the careers of David Selby, John Karlen, and Kate Jackson. It made a household name out of Jonathan Frid, probably the first soap superstar.

So when it was announced a few years ago that the series would be going to the big screen, fans were skeptical. In a few weeks, the Tim Burton directed film starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins opens in theaters. Burton and Depp extended invitations to Frid and series actresses Kathryn Leigh Scott and Lara Parker for cameo appearances. They were humble by the invitation and they accepted.

And the fans couldn't be happier.

See, this is where a fandom which is as old as Star Trek has also embraced the reboot of their beloved series. Dark Shadows fans have, by and large, accepted Burton's direction with the movie and Depp's portrayal of the original vampire heartthrob. They are excited about the movie and all of the active Dark Shadows websites have given credit to the reboot. They've embraced it. They welcome it. They're ready to line up at the theater to go see it.

Why can't Xena fans seemingly accept the same fate for their beloved characters?

Part of it, I believe, has to do with the possessiveness of the fans today. If it doesn't have Lucy Lawless as Xena, they're not interested. Instead of giving another actress a shot, they'd rather throw the whole idea under the bus.

They cannot wrap their head around another actor playing the lead character.

As a Dark Shadows fan, I was skeptical about the reboot but after hearing what Burton and Depp had in mind, I came around.

The moral of the story is, don't judge a book (or in this case, idea) by its cover. Let the pieces fall where they may. You never know what may come out on the backside of all of this. After all, the original Dark Shadows series is seeing rebirth as a result of the movie. And that, my friends, is an awesome thing.

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