Here’s something funny. Day after I recommend Mairosu’s Postcards from the Zone, I stumble over a review there in that has a notion that I disagree with vehemently. Not enough to take back my recommendation – I still think it’s a good site – but enough to go on yet another rambling essay.
By a small coincidence, it concerns the remake of Shadow Play, which I talked about recently. Just to make my linking those reviews utterly pointless, let me remind you that Shadow Play concerns Alan Grant, a man condemned to dream over and over again of being executed. While both episodes follow the same plot, something new has been added to the remake. And this is the main thrust of my disagreement.
Bear in mind as I rant that it’s been twenty years since I watched the remake and all I have on it is what Mairsou says is there. I think my point is still valid without having both shows to compare, but it’s worth mentioning.
Here is the passage from Mairosu’s review that inspired this essay:
The new Shadow Play, though, is even better. James Crocker, who adapted Beaumont’s original teleplay, fleshes out Grant’s character a little bit, adding the element of sister/father who he possibly did wrong previously, hinting that this is some sort of comeuppance – an element which I believe wasn’t there in the Beaumont script…
Now honestly, the concept that anyone’s script was better than a Charles Beaumont script led to a “What the Hell?” moment on my part, especially since the person in question didn’t have a last name such as Ellison, or Matheson, or Sturgeon, or Campbell, or even maybe King. But at this stage of my life I know the difference between my personal preference and what’s actually good. (Namely I’m always right and if you disagree with me, you’re dead wrong. Ho ho ho.)
It’s why Mairsou prefers the remake that gets me. I can not accept that giving a reason to Grant’s dire situation, even if by implication, in anyway improves the story. In fact, I think it’s not only unnecessary, it also weakens the over all story.
With a reason, Grant’s fate becomes a form of justice. It might be too strict a justice, but it’s justice nonetheless. Grant deserves what he gets.
Without a reason, Grant is a victim of happenstance. It could have happened to anybody. More, by implication, it could have happened to us.
While watching no-goodniks pay for their sins will always have an appeal, that’s not what Shadow Play was about. It was a tragedy about a man unjustly put in hell. All that changing it does is reveal that the writer of the remake had no idea what he was working with.