In 2008, the Muscles From Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, made a self-aware indie movie called JCVD, wherein he played a partly fictional version of himself as a struggling actor past his prime. It’s more Godard than The Expendables, but showed Van Damme as a canny on-screen presence with a full awareness of his much-loved persona. A stint in a series of adverts for Volvo and Coors Light helped strengthen that – sleeveless denim jacket and all – and now he’s made his way into TV comedy with Jean-Claude Van Johnson. It seems that he excels when playing himself, and his latest venture has him poking more fun at himself while embracing the persona that made him a star. The show has a killer set-up – JCVD has used his actor life as a cover for his escapades as a secret agent and must battle the forces of evil. It’s a knowingly bonkers idea the pilot has a lot of fun with, so the challenge will be to see how long such a high-concept plot can be sustained.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson will premiere some time in 2017.
Out of Amazon’s most recent round of pilots, The Tick was arguably the one with the biggest brand recognition. From the absurdist comic series that delighted in parodying the superhero genre, to the short-lived animated series to the even shorter-lived first attempt at a live-action adaptation, The Tick‘s popularity has remained consistent, if not stratospheric. Perhaps this era of pop culture, where superheroes are dominant and audiences seemingly can’t get enough of them, will benefit the series and help it find an audience beyond its cult status. This time around, the eponymous blue avenger is played by Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead), and the pilot hinted at an epic overriding story that may delight fans of the character who have been waiting for a definitive adaptation.
The Tick will premiere some time in 2017.
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
Amazon’s last dive into the expansive back-catalogue of science-fiction icon Philip K. Dick gave them The Man in the High Castle, an ambitious if somewhat faulty drama that took on the much-theorized question of what America would be like if the Nazis had won World War 2. Dick is one of the genre’s most revered figures, and his influence spans across pop culture, so why adapt just one of his stories when you can go for several at once? That’s the plan put forward by acclaimed show-runner Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Battlestar Galactica) and Emmy winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad).
Electric Dreams, which was originally commissioned by Channel 4 in the UK, is a passion project for all involved and will adapt 10 of the author’s short stories for an anthology series. Moore and company have amassed an enviable pool of writing talent to assist them in this endeavor, including Dee Rees (Mudbound), Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim) and Matthew Graham (Doctor Who). Recent casting announcements for the series include Terrence Howard (Empire) and Anna Paquin (True Blood). No clues have been given on what stories will be adapted, but with over 120 stories and 44 novels to his name, they won’t be short of material.
No air date has been announced yet for Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.
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