This past Tuesday, the television adaption of the famous slasher film franchise, Scream, premiered on MTV. Following the release of the fourth film of the series in 2011, speculation arose of whether or not the franchise would continue with a fifth and sixth installment. Along with this talk of more film additions to the Scream series, it was rumored that the film franchise would pick itself up as a television series on MTV. This rumor was received with reservation from the franchise’s loyal fans – how can the integrity be maintained from a slasher film reworked for television? MTV is known for taking great risks in their original programming, pushing television series to their absolute limit, broadcasting explicit scenes that would be deemed “inappropriate for television” by other networks. Tasked with the challenge of being able to maintain the integrity of the successful and beloved Scream franchise while staying within the confines of “television appropriateness,” as well as providing an entertaining show, MTV certainly delivered and seamlessly accomplished all of these things.
There are many elements of the original Scream film franchise that made it so successful and drew crowds of fans everywhere – I, myself, am not a huge fan of slasher and gory films, but I would, without hesitation, have a Scream marathon given the opportunity. Loyal fans of the franchise know that each film of the series was self aware. In the first film, the characters (namely Jaime Kennedy’s character) often talked about slasher films and what it took to survive in one, unaware of the circumstances about to unfold. In Scream 2, the subject of sequels not being as successful as the original was discussed i the film’s dialogue, along with the ongoing discussion of how one would survive in a murder film. The third film of the series remained self aware of horror conventions, discussing the “rules” of final installments of film trilogies. Finally, Scream 4, released more than ten years after its predecessor, discussed the attributes of a remake of a successful film franchise.
Scream: The TV Series continues this tradition of self-awareness by addressing the confines of adapting a slasher film into a television series through a scene featuring a class discussion on film. One particular character, Noah Foster (played by John Karna), spearheads this self-awareness, playing a film buff obsessed with slasher films. The character of Noah perhaps serves as a nod to Randy Meeks of the first two Scream films, who was also responsible for driving forward the self-awareness of the slasher films. While a lot of the information given by these characters seem to be spoon-fed to the viewers, the intermingling scenes woven into these discussions help illustrate the topics as they are being explained by the characters themselves.
Further maintaining the integrity of the film franchise, the opening kill scene of the television series mirrors that of the first Scream film. Both actresses featured in either cold opening (Drew Barrymore in Scream and Bella Thorne in Scream: The TV Series) are well-known to the demographic of the film franchise at the time, as well as the television series today. Having well-known actresses such as these be killed off in the opening scene provides a “nobody is safe” vibe, keeping the audience at the edge of their seats throughout the entire production. The initial murder scene of the television series provides an updated and modernized version of the original in other ways, as well. The anonymous flirtatious phone call from the first film was turned into a string of suggestive texts in the television series. Both murders also involved the gruesome murder of each respective characters’ boyfriend. Also, the parents of either character were the ones who discovered the remnants of the mangled bodies. It’s parallels such as these that help the television series maintain the honor of the original franchise, not just in the opening scenes, but also throughout the feature presentation.
With all of the parallels aside, it is not hard to tell that although the television series is within the same universe as the film franchise, the executives behind the show want to keep the two as separate as possible. There is no clear connection between the characters of the TV series and the film franchise – in fact, both franchises take place in completely different towns, and even the infamous “Ghost Face” character is given a different persona for the television adaption. In other reboots, characters from the original are often brought back into the remake in order to maintain the interest of their original fans, while gaining new fans as well. Unfortunately, at times this strategy can end up feeling very gimmicky, ultimately leading to the untimely demise of the series (*cough* 90210 *cough*). While there is this evident divide between the two Scream worlds, the television adaption does an exceptional job in creating new characters and developing a new story, while still maintaining the heart of the beloved film series. (But if the TV show were to make some sort of explicit reference to the original films, I would not be opposed).
Scream: The TV Series shows that you do not need any antics or creative references in order to maintain the integrity of the thing being rebooted. The Scream film franchise is the cool older sibling of the just-as-cool younger sibling, Scream: The TV Series, without completely overshadowing it. Scream: The TV Series is the game changer for television and is also the game changer of remakes and spin-offs. This new television series is not only for the fans of the film franchise, but more so for the new generation of enthusiasts of the horror genre.