The following is an open letter to the Sci Fi Channel people.
Dear Sci Fi Channel People:
I write to you with the dogged affection of a spurned but hopeful suitor. Your Sci Fi Channel Original Movies have long provided me with superb background noise for otherwise dreary weekends of writing. I admired Sharks in Venice, I thought Dragon Dynasty was a hoot, and SS Doomtrooper more than satisfied my nostalgia for the entirely unrelated video-game franchise I’m sure you didn’t intend it to resemble at all. You even made an awful sequel to the awful Dungeons and Dragons movie! I should be grateful.
Instead, like the Mansquito tending the juice bar at a Dracula family reunion, I sense a distinct lack of opportunity, and the only sound I hear is forlorn and fruitless sucking.
Let facts be submitted to a candid world: Battlestar Galactica has ended, your parent company is unsteady, and your new name sounds like a social disease. I get that your monster-and-disaster B-movies turn a profit, but when even I can no longer distinguish Croc from Supergator or Frankenfish from Snakehead Terror, then your future is bleak.
With fingers bloody from clinging to the bottom of the midlist, I’m writing to offer two magic words that will rescue your faltering network:
We’ll start, as Battlestar Galactica did, with a miniseries—but unlike effects-driven productions that require custom sets and scores of Canadian character actors, Becoming Charlemagne: The Miniseries will be a model of parsimony. Given Sci Fi’s substantial catalog of wholly owned intellectual property, we can easily edit and re-dub scenes from Minotaur, Ogre, Gryphon, Grendel, Wyvern, Dragon Sword, Dragon Storm, and Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy to craft a Charlemagne narrative that is as entertaining as it is astonishingly thrifty.
After the miniseries proves viable, we’ll frugally film the resulting Becoming Charlemagne: The Series on location in the Balkans. My contacts in the Belgrade suburbs can ply our army of extras with homemade moonshine, perhaps in lieu of pay. To ensure a smooth transition, the miniseries should establish the existence of Brutalist architecture in ninth-century Aachen, an anachronism that only inflexible purists will decry.
I understand that television executives don’t leap gaily into edgy, cerebral projects—so if it helps, think of Becoming Charlemagne: The Series as “Battlestar Galactica in the woods.” The parallel with Charlemagne’s legendary Twelve Peers speaks for itself (“there are many copies, and they have a plan”), but if medieval jargon leaves you cold, feel free to substitute more familiar language. A Saxon, for example, might profitably be thought of as a tree Cylon. An angel in a hot red dress is hardly out of the question.
While you ponder my proposal, I’ll continue my vigil outside the bedroom windows of Sci Fi executives, raising my boom box aloft in an attempt to sell you on my other marketable idea: a starkly “reimagined” version of the failed 1992 series Covington Cross. Graphic medieval violence is, I believe, the resolution of all your fruitless searches, and while there are certainly worse shows we could remake, market research proves that the smart money flocks to projects in which the Skye is always the color of Ione.
Yours in sacré Charlemania,
cc: Steven Spielberg; Peter Jackson; Christopher Tolkien; Rosamund McKitterick; Pierre Riché; John Rhys-Davies; Mirek Topolánek, President, European Union; Steve Voigt, President, King Arthur Flour Company; Coolio