When Will TV Get More Anthology Series?

Published 1 year ago by

Tales from the Crypt Anthology Horror When Will TV Get More Anthology Series?

A new generation that was raised on anthology films and TV shows like Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, and The Twilight Zone has begun paying homage to those masterworks through films like Trick R’ Treat, V/H/S, The ABCs of Death -  and even comic books like Archaia’s Moon Lake and the re-born Creepy and Eerie. However, when it comes to anthology storytelling, television is still lagging behind.

It isn’t just the long and impressive tradition of these shows  (which dates back to the dawn of the medium and visionaries like Alfred Hitchcock, Merwin Gerard, and Rod Serling) that makes TV’s anthology-deficiency surprising – it’s more perplexing that the deficiency exists within the current climate of horror domination on TV.

american horror story season 2 finale angel When Will TV Get More Anthology Series?

The Walking Dead, American Horror Story (a modern TV anthology success story), SupernaturalTrue Blood, Grimm and many others all have a common beasty or supernatural thread, relying on vampires, ghosts, werewolves, witches, and/or zombies to tell their stories and win over viewers across a large range. The best anthology tales have been more focused on psychological horror, fantasy, and science fiction, and not the familiar creatures that go bump in the night, but the success of the former should speak to the latter’s potential, since there is likely a fair amount of crossover between the genres.

Is that enough, though? Right now, the development process seems as if it resembles a Quixotic search for an instant and guaranteed winner, and while an anthology series seems like it could be potentially successful, it isn’t a certainty – especially given recent history.

The Crypt Keeper Tales from the Crypt When Will TV Get More Anthology Series?

The format wasn’t completely abandoned after the Cryptkeeper took his last bow in the ’90s. Kid-skewed anthology shows from R.L. Stine and others have continued, and the UK has Black Mirror, but the last domestic/adult entry was Mick Garris’ Masters of Horror/Fear Itself series in the mid-aughts – and that was far from a ratings hit.

This is about more than numbers, though – it could also be about building something through risk and chance in the hopes of spawning not just good genre television, but also a ton of IP. Remember, Tales from the Crypt spawned three films, and with the right focus, an anthology show could become its own brand.

That means nothing without the right talent, though, and that is where the true benefit to the horror genre (or even science fiction, because a new Outer Limits-like show would be equally stellar) comes in: an anthology series provides ample opportunity for both genre masters and those not usually associated with horror to shake things up and experiment.

The ABCs of Death Poster When Will TV Get More Anthology Series?

Tales from the Crypt and Masters of Horror boasted an enviable list of horror directors and writers, while also allowing actors like Tom Hanks to dabble. The original Twilight Zone brought Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury to televised fiction, while the mid-1980s reboot gave us some of J. Michael Straczynski’s first notable live-action work. The upcoming sequel to The ABCs of Death is a great example for what an anthology TV show could do, by inviting non-genre talents into the fold.

A rebooted Twilight Zone is probably the most adequate delivery system for a new weekly anthology series on TV (due to brand recognition) but a show like this requires a ringleader who is willing to suffer the comparisons to its peerless predecessor and the challenge of constructing anywhere from 6 to 13 or even 22 micro movies in a short amount of time.

In December of last year, X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer (who also produced Trick R’ Treat) announced that he was willing to take on the responsibility of breathing life back into the franchise, but thus far, the process has been painfully slow. In March, Singer reiterated his interest in the project, while acknowledging the heady challenges that come with such an endeavor.

“It’ll be a little slower in process because of where I’m at with this film [X-Men: Days of Future Past], but it’s definitely something I’m passionate about. You know it’s always a challenge with anthology television shows because you don’t have a standing cast, so you’re always recasting. And you’re always finding new locations and environments to serve the different stories. But I’m anxious to figure out the right way to do it because I love anthologies.

“I love anthology movies and anthology television shows. I’m very passionate about it and some of those stories I think are worth revisiting now. And there are ways that they can be treated now, they can be scarier than they were then and also they can be much more visual because we have more technology. Back then you were shooting on the back lot or out west and now you can pull off a lot more for television. So I’m really looking forward to getting into it. There’s writer that I just got involved in it. I don’t want to say who it is yet because we have to make a deal, but somebody I enjoy working with. So that’s coming together right now, actually. So yeah, I’m into it.”

The Twilight Zone Bryan Singer When Will TV Get More Anthology Series?

With the promotional tour for X-Men: Days of Future Past a few months away, there is a kernel of hope that Singer will provide a bit more insight into the vital signs of his Twilight Zone project, but the fact that Warner Bros. is slowly developing a non-anthology film with Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski might not bode well for the future of the TV project. That’s surprising because television feels like a more logical outlet, but the same could be said for Star Trek, and we see how resistant Paramount and CBS have been to the idea of a concurrent Trek show and movie franchise.

Will we see a Twilight Zone TV series again, another revitalized classic, or something entirely new? Despite the inherent difficulties, it feels inevitable, but with all the risk aversion going on in television – even cable – one has to wonder if the future of one of television history’s most influential formats might rest in the hands of companies like Netflix, Amazon, and the more adventurous web.


Source: IGN

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
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  1. Something like the Twilight Zone would be great, as long as its way more creepy.

  2. Well we did have, Nite Tales: The Movie & Nite Tales: The tv show. oh well what do I know?

  3. I’d be surprised if we saw anything like The Twilight Zone on the major networks but IMO if you aired it on a Saturday night from 10-11 with a modest budget it would be successful enough to go on for a while.
    Heck, even if you made it a once a month event with The Twilight Zone name on it people would watch. Maybe not 15-20 million like TWD but if you had 6-8 million on a Saturday it would be pretty great.

  4. I would prefer something like outer limits.
    The outer limits from the 90′s was outstanding !

  5. I thought the X-Files covered a good mix of monsters, urban myths, horror, sci-fi, and tech until it went south and focused mostly on aliens.
    Bring back the original X-Files!

    • The main arc of the X-Files was always about aliens.

      • I think using The X-Files brand might be a good way to go.
        You could explore and give the back story on cases before Mulder and Skully got involved or feature cases that they didn’t cover.
        You already have an established brand and there’s still plenty of people who watched the show who would tune in.

    • what are you talking about . so you didn’t like the main story but liked all the little filler episodes of one off monsters ect…? Jon go download all of the x-files and watch them in order from the beginning. then slap your self for this last post. trust me by season 2-3 you will have no other choice

  6. I would love to see a tasteful horror anthology series that used historical contexts (medieval Europe, 1930′s USA, etc.).

    The problem with most anthology formats is that they are tonally very loud and gimmicky. Give us something subdued, subtle, and eerie.

    A show like that would be great for writers, directors, and actors to submerge into TV genre fiction.

  7. Bring back Tales from the Crypt!!!!!!! One of the best episodes was “Abra Cadaver”

  8. I’ve long held (well, since The Avengers anyway) that if DC wanted to get back into the game as quick as possible, they should run two film anthologies a year – Action Comics and Detective Comics.

    Action would be the lighter, more heroic, and more fun take on the DC world, while Detective would be the darker and grittier take that is the current preference at Warners.

    It would mitigate much of the damned hand wringing that is going on at WB concerning their comic properties, and create a farm system of writers/directors/producers to work on the DCCU.

    • I don’t know about that bro. I would think that was cool and you would too. Its not up to us. Its up to some fat nerd ceo that knows nothing about the world and couldn’t survive a month in the real world with out other ppl doing every thing for them. The same moron who said lets make dp not talk and lets add some new powers to him. The same moron who thought nick cage should be ghost rider. the same moron who green lighted the green lantern debacle. the same moron who wanted ben Affleck as the dare devil. the same moron who wanted ben as the new bats. I could go on for ever like this if I wanted to. I just don’t think that it would have the same name recognition as batman or superman or man of steel for that matter

  9. Someone should make a Mystery Science Theater 3000 style show that does makeovers of modern movies (instead of just old B movies). I think that would be a hilarious series TV show.
    To keep it legal Fox could recut Fox movies, Universal recut Universal, etc….
    How would this be any different than a comedy mash up presented by Jack Black at an awards show?
    Being of modern movies it could easily fit in primetime.
    It couldn’t be any sillier than watching the various home movie based shows highlighting people failing at something.
    The voiceovers could even be done by famous people thereby adding more “who will be on this week” to its mystery.

    • They could even do a little homage at the end giving credit to the original movie as a way of pushing DVD sales.

    • mst3000 is classic stuff right there . don’t go all lets change the human torch to be black because it the trendy thing to do in Hollywood.

      Hey Hollywood no one cares about your dumb trends. Stop messing up or movies just to fit them in your bs perception of the world. You are leaches on humanity . you get paid millions more then you should for playing like little kids. The least you could do is stop messing up the classics. I know lizard creatures like yourselfs can’t make up original stuff . Just hire other writers and stop remaking movies over and over and over and over again with slight changes and different crappy actors.

  10. Only if it’s done with the love and respect it deserves. I’d hate to see some half assed attempt being made by people who are only in it to make a buck. If it’s done right, it could be really good.

  11. Weirdly, we still have various channels airing Ray Bradbury’s Mystery Theatre and Tales Of The Unexpected, two very popular horror anthology shows from the 70s and 80s.

    I think The Horror Channel airs quite a few too but I can’t remember what their names are.

    I think I’d prefer not to see TV anthology shows any more because the format works better in 20 minute segments and that wouldn’t leave much room since most of them only last 30 minutes (unless they went with that Spielberg show’s format of something weird for an hour but split it into 3 stories).

    • You can download both show off tpb. the mst3000 torrent was 130 gigs and it took over a month to download. I can say though it was so worth the wait. crow is the greatest robot ever

  12. I do not think there are enough fans for that kind of series at this point because if they hit a stretch of so-so episodes and the rating drop most channels will kill the show quick. That said this type of show has no chance on network television and would have to be on one of the more stable basic cable stations at the very least.

    As for Singer wanting to be involved in something like the Twilight Zone, sorry even though I love the Usual Suspects I have not seen any indication that Singer really has a feel for the supernatural/mystery genre.

  13. I’d love to see more anthology series, but historically speaking Anthology series haven’t done very well ratings-wise. Problem is unlike a regular series that keeps you coming back and can have clunker episodes (after hopefully a lot of stellar ones) one bad episode of an anthology can kill it — especially if that happens to be the first episode a viewer sees.

    Maybe a cable network or the web might be the best place for this to happen. In this case it really looks like an opportunity for the independents to step up to the plate.

  14. When one company does it and makes money everyone will jump on the wagon

  15. I love anthologies! Especially horror! I live for the things that go bump in the night

  16. Part of the reason we do not see anthology shows are as follows

    1 – people tend to to like continuity, and want things to just continue

    2 – by their nature they can be expensive with little repetition of sets etc

    3 – its easier to churn out 80 plus hours of Lost or Heroes or whatever (which are essentially soaps with a few mysterious events) than 80 separate short films

  17. Jason, I think you’re right on, if not prophetic. A revival of anthology series is inevitable and cyclical, though its success will depend largely on execution. I’m looking to cable networks and new outlets like Netflix to revive the genre, or the individual passion and name value of a Bryan Singer or J.J. Abrams or Joss Whedon.

    In the heyday of early cable I made (and made my money back on) a 10-minute psychological thriller (mannequin horror) that played on HBO, Cinemax, and others cable networks (remember Z Channel?) for 13 years running. Did you ever see LIVING DOLLS? http://bit.ly/living-dolls