It’s The Weekly Question of the Week… IN SPACE!

August 12, 2012


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan had a re-working of Moby Dick in it. Also it had Ricardo Montalban being 10-pounds of bad-ass in a 5-pound bag.

So it’s nothing new to take stories and re-tell them in a new setting.  The most obvious example might be science-fiction, where often the extremity of the setting allows for a tidy allegory.  This often manifests as the “… IN SPACE!” plot.  You know, “It’s High Noon… IN SPACE!” (the movie Outland.)  “It’s the Cold War… IN SPACE!” (the original Star Trek) “It’s the Embargo Act of 1807… IN SPACE!” (Star Wars: Episode I).  Sometimes it’s more subtle, like Fight Club as a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde; Other times, it’s simply a re-imagining, like Clueless, or simply taking the original text and putting it in a new physical setting.

When it’s done well, it’s great.  It opens up whole new ways of looking at the subject and the story.  When it’s done badly it’s painful, lazy.  Nowhere is this more evident than with Shakespeare.  It’s practically a law that you have to “set” your Shakespeare play somewhere weird.  ANYWHERE but Elizabethan Europe, thank you.  And when it’s done well,  like Ian McKellan’s Richard III set in WWII, it’s very cool.

“Get thee to a space nunnery, Ophelia. Woulds’t thou be a breeder of space sinners?”

Last night I saw a production of The Tempest set at Woodstock.  The acting was good, so the play was enjoyable, but no real effort was made to make the setting make sense. Everyone was dressed like hippies, and we were told “it’s set at Woodstock,” but then they continued to talk about the king of Naples; the characters were shipwrecked on this “island”; Prospero the wizard (were there a lot of wizards at Woodstock?) complained about being exiled there for 12 years.  I don’t know about you, but 12 years at a rock concert sounds pretty awful.  Send the brown acid my way, I have to get out of here, man.  I couldn’t even pay attention for the first half because I kept thinking about the ways they could have worked Woodstock and rock and the 60’s in to the narrative, since they seemed insistent on doing so.  And now I really want to see that play.

And what do you really want to see?  What story – fiction or non – would you love to see transplanted in to a new setting?  I know, this is a thinker, this week. Maybe it’s highbrow: maybe you want to see Julius Caesar set in a grade school.  Maybe you want to read “The Raven” retold with an automated telemarketer instead of a bird, or or see The Seven Samurai set in modern New York, or read Huck Finn… IN SPACE (okay, that would probably not be highbrow).  Or maybe it’s not: Maybe you want to read Twilight under the sea, I don’t know. Whatever – I want to hear about it!

For your Weekly Question of the Week: What book, movie, play, etc. would you love to see (for real or out of morbid curiosity) retold in a new setting?

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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90 Comments on “It’s The Weekly Question of the Week… IN SPACE!”

  1. 1pointperspective Says:

    The Tempest at Woodstock?! In which act do Country Joe and the Multiplying Fishes do their big chant?


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      That was another thing – at no point did anyone seem to be listening to a concert. It was all just “hey! we’re dressed like hippies!”


      • 1pointperspective Says:

        I saw a production at down in Ashland years ago. I forget which play it even was, but some creative genius had decided that it should be set somewhere around world war I or possibly during the Spanish american war. Nothing changed except the costumes. It was horrid.


  2. KOKAY Says:

    I think Pulp Fiction could work in the Wild West. Or, I’d like to see Noah’s Arc (yes the one in the bible) get a modern update! Basically I just want to see as many animals as possible since the We Bough a Zoo movie. 🙂


  3. angeliquejamail Says:

    I’ll have to think about this one, but I wanted to chime in about the nonsense that Shakespeare has to be set outside of Elizabethan Europe. Yes, sometimes it’s great, but often it’s TERRIBLE. I think the idea is that they want to make the play become accessible, but that just teaches people that Shakespeare itself is not accessible. WRONG! (Okay, English teacher rant over…)

    Here are some examples of the worst re-settings of Shakespeare I’ve seen, ones in which the major conflicts of the play either no longer made sense because they just weren’t applicable or else they didn’t take into account that set dressing and costumes weren’t the only thing that needed to be adapted:
    1. Much Ado About Nothing set within 1950s American college football and cheerleading
    2. Macbeth set in Imperial Japan
    3. Hamlet made with robots


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I’d say it’s more often terrible than good for exactly that reason. I even thought, with Tempest, it could work: make Prospero a singer who was kicked out of a band (called “Naples”), so he sabotages their tour bus. Stephano & Trinculo – the drunks – are just begging to be two guys tripping who come across Caliban and think he’s a monster.

      I saw MacBeth set in fascist Germany that worked because it focused on the unhinging of greed and lust for power, and last year a production of All’s Well That Ends Well set in 1970’s New York which sound like a set up for “ha ha, bellbottoms!” but was outstanding – using urban race & class divisions and government corruption to propel it.


  4. Go Jules Go Says:

    Holy sparkling vampires. Twilight under the sea. Yes. That’s my submission. Okay. Fine. My own submission… Omg I have so many ideas…

    The Passion of the Christ in present-day New York.

    This is an amazing question and cool background story and I’m not just saying that to butter you up.


  5. prttynpnk Says:

    Pulp Fiction with an entirely Amish cast. I want lots of ‘thys’ and a fatal shooting in a buggy….


  6. 8teen39 Says:

    How about Pride And Prejudice with zombies? What? You say that’s been done? OK, how about…. Heck, I can’t think of anything, now that you ask. 2001 in 1948?


  7. Lydia Street Says:

    I want to see Moby Dick in a large corporate office. Oh wait, that’s my 9 to 5 life and Captain Ahab is out to sink the ship. Wheeeee!


  8. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Hmmm, how about “The Sound of Music” in a brothel? Nunneries are so passé.


  9. Elyse Says:

    “OKLAHOMA” anytime, anywhere they can’t sing that awful song.


  10. themeredithmouth Says:

    I’d like to see “Bladerunner” and “Mannequin” switch locales.
    And “Twelfth Night” on “Gilligan’s Island.”


  11. speaker7 Says:

    I want to see Fifty Shades of Grey set on the sun so all characters are consumed in fire.


  12. earthriderjudyberman Says:

    Let’s see … Romeo and Juliet done recast as two gangs fighting in New York City. (That’s already been done: “West Side Story.”) I’ll think this challenge over.

    This is an excellent premise. But bee careful, Byronic, that some Hollywood producer doesn’t steal your ideas and make them into a movie.


  13. susielindau Says:

    Animal House in ancient Egypt.


  14. 1pointperspective Says:

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest set in the halls congress. Nurse Ratched, Martini, Billy, Tabor, The Chief, R.P.McMurphy, all there in suits and positions of varying power, all tragic and trying to find their way. Who can forget the inspirational finale, as Chief rips the podium from the floor and throws it through the window in the capital rotunda?

    Instead of electro-shock therapy, perhaps McMurphy can lose his spirit to over-zealous lobbyists who sap his energy and life force with bushel baskets of money and high-priced hookers. Rather than stealing a fishing boat, the gang can hijack the country, and run it into the ground…or maybe a campaign bus can be commandeered instead.


  15. JM Randolph Says:

    The Odyssey in the Blogosphere.


  16. on thehomefrontandbeyond Says:

    Gone With The Wind in Shakespearian times

    Men In Black set in Gone With the Wind times


  17. Anastasia Says:

    Gone with the Wind, in period garb, IN SPACE!

    And the story of the Romanov assassination, the cartoon.


  18. Laura Says:

    The Tempest — IN SPACE! No, wait …
    Romeo and Juliet in 1950s New York, as a musical! No, wait …

    I’ve been told that there’s a version of Romeo and Juliet acted entirely by cats, but I’ve never been able to find it.


  19. Michelle Gillies Says:

    “A Clockwork Orange” done like Spanky and the “Our Gang” series.
    Oh, my…did I say that?!


  20. colgore Says:

    100 Years of Solitude set in New York City. Pilar Ternera would make a lot of scratch shaking her venus penis-trap.


  21. Misirlou Says:

    I’m torn between an all singing, all dancing Bollywood version of “The 10 Commandments” or “Gone With the Wind” set in the Netherlands circa 1620.


  22. racheldeangelis Says:

    I’d like to see Rear Window set in a redneck, trailer park community! 😀


  23. Angie Z. Says:

    I want to see Three’s Company set in Shakespearean/Elizabethan times. The show would obviously lend itself well to about every Shakespeare comedy since every Three’s Company episode also always involved a big misunderstanding. Plus, I’d love to see Mr. Furley in a ruffled velvet leisure suit.


  24. Edward Hotspur Says:

    Wrong Number set in the present. Whoops! Cell phones, caller ID, 3 minute movie including credits.

    Also, how about All In The Family set in the present? Whoops! Cancelled for being too offensive.

    How about Pirates of the Gulf of Aden?


  25. Blogdramedy Says:

    “Glengarry Glen Ross” set in a Wal-Mart.

    “The Exorcist” set in Washington. One guess who get’s the lead role.

    “Diner” set in a shoe shop.

    “Dr. Zhivago” set in Texas.

    I’d open my wallet if any of these came to the big screen. 🙂


  26. mj monaghan Says:

    I’m thinking Downton Abbey meets Gatsby would be pretty frolicking, mate!


  27. faarondouglas Says:

    My immediate thought was “Debbie Does Dallas” set in Houston. Same movie? Who cares. It’s a story of ambition. OR, “A Hundred Years of Solitude” set in the deep south. Which would be fascinating!


  28. Lorna's Voice Says:

    How about “Little Women” as an adventure/spy thriller, kind of like the female version of an Indian Jones meets Mission Impossible meets Charlies Angles? Costume designers would be challenged, but, hey, that would be part of the thrill…


  29. anecdotaltales Says:

    Well, they’re making Oliver Twist as a 3D parkour flick, so anything goes, right? (Sadly, I’m not kidding. (

    Myself, I want to see The Ten Commandments told with Legos. Stone tablets, plastic toys; the script wrties itself! Who doesn’t want to see a bearded lego guy stand watch over a great big sea of blue Legos parting whie hundreds of Lego people walk across brown Legos to safety?


  30. clemarchives Says:

    To Kill a Mockingbird with robots in the year 3000. Or is that just called I, Robot?

    How about Pride and Prejudice performed by cats? It could be animated OR live action.


  31. Paul G. Eberlein Says:

    “The Sixth Sense” set on Devil’s Island a-la “Papillion.” The hero would be constantly harassed by the ghosts of the nearby Leper Colony, former inmates and guards as well as victims of the local Indians’ poison darts. “Prisoner, show yourself…so that you can see dead people…”


  32. eileeneldred Says:

    Please, sir, don’t make me read “Twilight” (or anything by that terrible writer) ever again, in any context! Um, that said, I think I’d better run away now…!!!


  33. atothewr Says:

    How about On Golden Pond, but set in a world of Vampires? I’m not sure how it would work, but that would put a nice twist on the story.


  34. Michelle Gillies Says:

    How about Kiefer Sutherlands “Lost Boys” done like the George Clooney’s “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou” ?


  35. Hippie Cahier Says:

    I didn’t see this in a timely fashion (obviously). I recently saw The Taming of the Shrew set in frontier times in American West. The actor who portrayed Petruchio was the only one who employed a distinctly Western frontier dialect and demeanor, which distracted me, but overall, it was a fitting choice for alternative setting.


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  1. The Tempest Star Trek Deep Space Nine - August 19, 2012

    […] It's The Weekly Question of the Week… IN SPACE! | The Byronic Man […]

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