Category Archives: TV

The quiet passing of Jan-Michael Vincent…

Yesterday it was reported that actor Jan-Michael Vincent had passed away on February 10th, almost a month ago, at the age of 73.

There are those who may know nothing about Jan-Michael Vincent. Here’s a trailer from The Mechanic, one of the movies he co-starred in with Charles Bronson back in 1972 and which I remember him best for…

The movie would be re-made later with Jason Statham in the Bronson role but , IMHO, it didn’t hold a candle to the original film and completely wiffed on what made the original so good: The ending.

Jan-Michael Vincent would appear in several movies, many of which may be classified as B films but were enjoyable nonetheless, throughout the 1970’s. He nonetheless established himself well enough that when he made the move to TV and the series Airwolf in 1984, he reportedly earned $200,000 per episode, an amount that made him one of the highest paid actors on TV at the time.

Alas, he was simultaneously spiraling out of control in a vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol which ultimately led to him becoming an undesirable in the field he worked in, as well as endangering his life.

Many of the details (and they are quite sad) can be read in this article about Mr. Vincent’s passing as written by David Moye and presented on Huffingtonpost.com:

Actor Jan-Michael Vincent Dead at 73

At the risk of paraphrasing the article, Mr. Vincent was in a major car accident in 1996 which resulted in him breaking his neck and injuring his vocal cords. In 2000 he was ordered to pay over $350,000 to a girlfriend he assaulted and who subsequently miscarried. He also spent 60 days in jail at that time due to violating his probation regarding alcohol related convictions. In 2008 he had another car accident and developed a leg infection. The lower right leg had to be amputated.

Mr. Vincent, who once looked like this…

Image result for jan-michael vincent

Was photographed later in life and after all that hard living looking like this…

Image result for jan-michael vincent

I don’t mean to put these images there to shock you. Again, it saddens me tremendously to see Mr. Vincent in these later in life pictures.

While he may not have been one of the greatest actors out there, as a child of the 1970’s and 80’s, he was a near constant in theaters and on TV.

I loved The Mechanic. So much so that when I wrote this novel, which was released before the Jason Statham remake of the movie, I used that title. Yeah, I suppose I stole it, though to be fair the term “mechanic” was well known as slang for a hitman/mercenary. Still, when I used the title I didn’t think many would remember that old film…


I also loved Mr. Vincent in Damnation Alley, a post-apocalyptic thriller that also featured George Peppard…

And, yeah, I really enjoyed him on Airwolf

Seeing him in that photo above, broken down, old, missing the lower half of his right leg, makes me incredibly sad.

I suppose in the end its one of those cautionary tales. You can have everything in life, success, money, looks… and yet still throw them away.

Rest in peace, Mr. Vincent. Despite it all, I’ll remember the joy you brought me in your roles.

History Repeats Itself…

…again.

Read about actor Jussie Smollett? He’s an openly gay actor known for being in the TV show Empire. Here he is:

On January 29th of this year, he reported to the police that two people attacked him while in Chicago. He alleged they hurled homophobic and racial slurs at him, put a rope around his neck, and poured a chemical substance on him.

(For more details and a timeline of events regarding this case, check out this article by Sopan Deb and presented on The New York Times).

Needless to say, the assault and details Mr. Smollett provided were harrowing. Only thing is… it now appears that Mr. Smollett may not have been telling the truth. It appears he may have staged the event himself, something I can’t even begin to understand why.

Ah, but you ask: What’s this whole “history repeats itself” thing you mention at the header?

See, when you get older and if you pay attention to the news and have a pesky habit of remembering things from years to years, you begin to realize that, indeed, history does have a weird habit of repeating itself.

Way back in the 1980’s and before the rise of the Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, and other right wing fanatics, there was this TV personality, now deceased, named Morton Downey Jr. who had a very wild right wing TV show. Here’s Mr. Morton Downey Jr as he appeared on his show:

Image result for morton downey jr

And here’s the very same Morton Downey Jr. photographed in 1989 after he was allegedly attacked -as he claimed- in a public bathroom by youthful hoods that, among other things, drew a swastika on his face:

Image result for morton downey jr

You can read a little more about this alleged attack on this site:

Bogushatecrimes.com

As you can tell by the website’s name, this attack on Mr. Downey Jr. wound up being… well… bogus. There proved to be too many discrepancies in his story and, amusingly, the Swastika was drawn on his face backwards. You know, as if he was looking in the mirror and drew it that way.

As it turned out, Mr. Downey Jr.’s TV show was suffering and was looking like it might be cancelled. It was theorized he set up this bogus attack as a way of getting attention on himself in the hopes of bringing the ratings of his show up and, thus, save it.

Alas, the show was cancelled anyway and Mr. Downey Jr. declared bankruptcy and appeared in other markets before his eventual death in 2001. I distinctly recall watching one of his shows way back when, where he puffed maniacally on his cigarette and blew smoke right at the camera, his provocative way of telling those who would dare try to stop him from smoking to go fuck themselves.

The big irony is that in 1996 Mr. Downey Jr. developed lung cancer and had to have one of his lungs removed. He went from being that very pro-smoker to a staunch anti-smoker but, clearly, by that point the damage was done.

I know there are rumors Mr. Smollett’s actions, if indeed the attack on him does turn out to be bogus, were motivated by perhaps being in danger of being dropped from Empire, just as Mr. Downey Jr. allegedly did what he did for fear his show was on the rocks.

Either way, if indeed Mr. Smollett did stage this attack, it looks like its in the process of being found out.

Netflix Ratings…

Over at Slate.com Willa Paskin wrote a fascinating (to me, anyway!) article concerning Netflix and their recent release of watched program information, something they are often hesitant to do:

Netflix, You, and the Hits no one knows are Hit

The upshot of the article is that Netflix, who as I mentioned before are usually tight lipped about their watched programs, offered some information on their programs such as You, Sex Education, and Bird Box and… the numbers are eye opening, to say the least.

The author rightly questions whether the numbers are totally accurate. After all, what constitutes a “watch” of a series? Supposedly Netflix counts 70% of a watched show as valid, but while that may apply to stand alone movie such as Bird Box, one wonders if that also applies to a series of episodes.

Still, and again as the author notes, the numbers presented, even assuming they are likely inflated (and you can adjust them as you feel), are nonetheless staggering and the comparisons made to other successful feature films or TV shows hint at the very real possibility that there is a whole sub-culture out there that watches things which “regular” networks do not bother with.

One of the things I’ve noted with this new age of information is that sometimes unexpected things bubble to the surface and become popular. It’s almost impossible to predict what will “click” with the masses, but it does once again prove the late William Goldman was right when he said about making movies:

Nobody knows anything… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.

Bob Einstein, R.I.P.

This happened a several days ago, but Bob Einstein, brother of Albert Brooks and one of the greatest deadpan comedians (IMHO!), passed away.

His most recent work was on Curb Your Enthusiasm but I’ll always remember and love his work as Super Dave Osborne, the most inept stuntman there ever was…

The Super Dave Osborne skits were always a variation of the same funny concept: A stunt was to be performed and the announcer presents Super Dave and, when he arrives, he explains the stunt and… it goes spectacularly wrong with the “true” Super Dave often letting loose…

Another example:

Funny stuff! One more:

Nightflyers: Season 1, a (partial) review

Presented on the SyFy Network and based on a short story by George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones), NightFlyers is a science fiction/horror hybrid involving a spacecraft heading out into deep space to try to contact an alien race, and the eerie things the crew encounters as they travel on.

The show’s been on for a while now and, at least according to IMDB, the first season has 10 episodes, all of which have been shown.

I set my DVR to tape the season and wound up watching the first three episodes in one sitting and enjoying myself reasonably well.

The show features a smallish “central” cast in an enormous star ship that, as I mentioned above, is on its way from Earth to meet up with an alien race somewhere out in the distance.  Earth is apparently dying out and it is hoped contacting the alien race will help them to save humanity…

…or some such.

Again, I enjoyed the first three episodes fairly well, though it seemed like the makers of the series were deliberately withholding some information and/or were simply inept at presenting the information clearly.

For example, within this star ship is a psychic individual who, other crew members have stated, was responsible for some kind of mass killing.

Or was he?

He is initially presented as potentially evil and dangerous character but as those original three episodes play out, we get a sense that he isn’t quite as dangerous as something which lurks within the vessel’s machinery itself.  The reveal of what that is is… ok… I suppose, but hardly shattering.

I left the show and returned to see the fourth episode and, in the interval of time, I found my opinion on the show had soured somewhat.  The fourth episode wound up being something of a chore to watch and it occurred to me that the series is being deliberately obtuse to the point of being frustrating.

In four hours of time, I as a viewer remain unclear why exactly the potentially dangerous psychic individual was brought on the ship.  It was stated he was there to communicate with the aliens psychically, but a later episode shows his ability to psychically “talk” to anything beyond humans is at best very limited.  So it would seem the risk of taking this potentially VERY dangerous individual on this vessel was a risk maybe not worth taking.

Further, the big reveal of the entity within the vessel itself also seems like a very idiotic thing.  I mean, how could so much money, time, and effort be made on building this massive star ship and then essentially load a (SPOILERS!!!!) person’s “soul” into it, especially one that is oh-so-hard to get along with.

Again, I’ve made it only four episodes into the series but as of now, I’m wondering if I’m going to make it through the remaining six.  Further, this series is based on a short story/novella by Mr. Martin so one wonders if a second season is in the offing and whether the makers of this series are stretching the story waaaaay too far out.

At this point and without having seen the rest of the series, I have to sadly say the show is a thumbs down from me, despite some decent acting, effects, and a somewhat intriguing initial premise.

Burt Reynolds (1936-2018)

If you’re like me, and getting really old, you may remember the 1970’s and 80’s.

If you do, you can’t not know actor/director Burt Reynolds, who it was announced yesterday passed away at the age of 82.

Mr. Reynolds rose to prominence in the earlier 1970’s, specifically with his fantastic performance in 1972’s Deliverance as Lewis, the would-be alpha male outdoorsman who takes a group of fellow city folk friends to a nature/river weekend trip which rapidly spirals into horror…

The movie was incredibly faithful to the James Dickey novel it was based on, so much so it even had the author play a small but vital role in the movie’s closing minutes!

Reynolds’ Lewis is, IMHO, the most fascinating character in the film, someone who is outwardly virile, charismatic, and clearly the “leader” of his pack.  He’s the one who gets his friends into the woods and when things go bad, he looks to be the one who will deal with the dangers and get everyone out.  Deliverance, to my mind, is like an Americanized version of  Joseph Conrad’s wonderful book Heart of Darkness, which was the basis of Apocalypse Now.  We have “civilized” people venturing into the wilds of nature, where the rules of a polite society no longer apply and where the danger is very real.

Here’s the thing that makes Lewis so damn fascinating (MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW!): He’s ultimately not all that different from the others in his group and something of a paper tiger.  In less capable hands, Lewis could have been presented as the movie’s villain, someone who dragged his friends to near doom and, when the going gets really tough is taken out of action.

But this performance and this character is far more nuanced.  Yes, he’s a man who got himself and others in over their proverbial heads, but Reynold’s performance following one of this movie’s pivotal sequences, after he kills a man, shows some incredible acting on his part.  Lewis kills one of the mountain men/rapists, but as the man dies from the arrow shot through his heart, one is riveted by Reynold’s acting here.  He is tough at first, but then, as the man slowly, agonizingly, dies, the look on his face changes to horror, to a realization of the trouble they’re in and how he, the alpha male, is also in over his head (pay particular attention to his facial expressions from 1:44 seconds or so):

Unfortunately, this clip ends before what I consider the best bit, where Lewis says, almost in a whisper, that he hit the man with a “Center shot”.  His whisper is the sound of a man’s soul dying.

Here’s a funny bit from the Conan show, where Burt Reynolds talks about that famous scene and how one of the roles was cast:

Here’s the thing: By the time Burt Reynolds appeared in Deliverance in 1972, he had already racked up a LARGE number of roles, dating back to 1958 (14 years!), in numerous TV shows and movies and including roles in Gunsmoke, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone (the original!), Hawk (a detective show starring Mr. Reynolds), Navajo Joe (a “spaghetti” type western from 1966 which starred Mr. Reynolds), Sam Whiskey (another movie, from 1969, where he was the protagonist), Dan August (another TV series featuring Reynolds in the starring role), and, just before the release of Deliverance, he starred in Fuzz, a movie based on the famous Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter) 87th Precinct novels and also featured Raquel Welch and Yul Brynner.

So Mr. Reynolds, following years of hard work and appearances in a number of roles, was suddenly “hot”.  He would follow up Deliverance with mostly starring roles in movies during the rest of the 1970’s.  Some movies fared better than others, most were interesting, including White Lightening (the first of his two “Gator” films), Gator (the second of the, you guessed it, Gator films), The Longest Yard, and Nickelodeon.

But Reynold’s biggest hit was to come in the year 1977…

Smokey and the Bandit was a HUGE hit, a film that was second in the Box Office that year, beaten by this long forgotten film called Star Wars, and it was a freaking delight.

The movie featured Reynolds, Sally Field (cute as a button!), Jerry Reed, and a spectacularly foul mouthed Jackie Gleason as the main cast in what amounts to a comedic full length car chase film.  It was wonderfully light-hearted and never had a dull moment and Reynold’s charisma was on full display.

(Side note, I wrote about the curious similarities between Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice and the James Bond film Live and Let Die’s Sheriff Pepper here)

From that point on Reynolds would continue working hard, appearing in films that were quite good if not quite as memorable as those that came before.  I loved The End, a movie Mr. Reynolds directed, though today people don’t remember it that much…

… and Hooper, a return feature with Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham (I reviewed that here).  He had a hit with The Cannonball Run, a sorta/kinda reworking of The Gumball Rally, but the film wasn’t as good as one would have hoped, though Roger Moore, of all people, was quite hilarious in it…

He would direct and star in the 1981 film Sharky’s Machine, which I feel is one of Mr. Reynold’s last great movies before he seemed to “lose it” with audiences…

He lost it, unfortunately, due to a number of middling films like Stroker Ace (back together with director Hal Needham), Cannonball Run II (though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original, it was a masterpiece of comedy compared to the sequel), Stick, Heat, and Malone.

Though it wasn’t a great film, it was fun to see Reynolds paired with longtime friend Clint Eastwood in City Heat

Mr. Reynolds, going into the later 1980’s and into the 1990’s, looked like his time had come and gone.  Yet he still worked, quite frequently, appearing in roles both large and small on the big and small screen.  And then in 1997 he appeared in Boogie Nights and, after too many years, received great kudos for his acting…

Sadly, Mr. Reynolds, in his later years, suffered from a number of health problems and, for the last decade or so, has looked increasingly frail.

So it wasn’t too big a shock to hear of his passing yesterday but, as you can tell by the length of this posting, I admired the hell out of him and his work.

Here’s to you, Mr. Reynolds.  You will be missed.

Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever (2015) a (mildly) belated review

Of late and, at least to some extent, due in part to the San Diego ComiCon, there have been a number of sales on graphic novels/comic books via Amazon or its sister-company Comixology.

One of the books on sale is one I didn’t know existed: The graphic novel adaptation of the late (RIP) Harlan Ellison’s famous original Star Trek screenplay The City on the Edge of Forever. (I’ll abbreviate the title to CEF from here on)

For those unfamiliar with the episode, CEF is considered by many to be one of the -if not THE- best Star Trek episode ever created, and with good reason.  The episode was the penultimate which aired in the show’s first season (it would air in April 6, 1967) and here’s it’s promotional trailer:

Consider me among the ones who feel CEF is easily among my top 2 favorite episodes ever aired from that series (#1 on the list is tough… I feel CEF is on par with the wonderful season two episode The Doomsday Machine, which to this day I feel is easily the most suspenseful episode of the original -and any subsequent- series).

So here’s the thing: Harlan Ellison created the story and wrote the initial screenplay but changes were made to it and, the episode that eventually aired, had plenty of the Ellison story in it as well as plenty of deviations.  If you’re at all familiar with Mr. Ellison, you’ll know this didn’t sit well with the author.

A number of years ago Mr. Ellison released a book which included his original screenplay:

Image result for city on the edge of forever original teleplay

I have this book and have read the screenplay but found it difficult to envision/compare in my mind the actual episode and Mr. Ellison’s screenplay.  One simply outshone the other because the aired episode was so familiar to me and it was tough to get that same “visual” experience out of reading a screenplay.

What I didn’t know, until a few days ago, was that in 2015 IDW published a 5 issue comic book adaptation of this screenplay.  It was collected into a single graphic novel and, as of today, is available via Kindle for a mere $1.99 if you’re interested.  Here’s the book’s cover:

Star Trek: Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever by [Ellison, Harlan, Tipton, Scott, Tipton, David]The original teleplay was adapted by writers Scott and David Tipton and illustrated -quite well!- by J. K. Woodward and, finally, I had a way to compare, almost one-on-one, the Star Trek episode with Mr. Ellison’s original screenplay.

And it was a curious thing!

To begin with, and with all due respect to Mr. Ellison, I still feel the original episode as aired is better.  The differences between screenplay and aired episode include the participation of Dr. McCoy (he plays a big part in the episode and doesn’t appear at all in the screenplay), the climax involves action taken by Kirk in the episode versus Spock in the screenplay, the appearance of a crippled WWI veteran (one thing I would have really liked to see in the episode but was cut out entirely), and a more cerebral conversation between Kirk and Spock in the screenplay’s conclusion.

Without going into too many spoilers, I feel the inclusion of McCoy in the episode was a stroke of genius and made us more engaged in what was to happen versus the character Mr. Ellison introduced, a drug dealer/murderer, who sets the actions in motion.  Further, I feel the climactic resolution resonates more in the episode by having Kirk act versus Spock.  It delivered an emotional gut punch that no other episode in the series was able to deliver.

And yet, as Spock would say, it is fascinating to see the original screenplay presented in graphic form.  It offered this reader the closest approximation to what the episode might have looked like had the producers used Mr. Ellison’s script more faithfully.

Would it have made for a better CEF?  To this reader, not quite.  But having said that, if you’re a fan of Star Trek and CEF in particular, do yourself a favor and give the graphic novel a look.  Recommended.

So… about Wonder Woman 1984…

Yesterday director Patty Jenkins took to twitter to offer a still from the now filming Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to her very popular Wonder Woman film, starring Gal Gadot, and set in (duh) the year 1984.

The image caused much curiosity:

Yep, that’s Chris Pine in an 80’s getup (though check out the people behind him… if nothing else, the movie sure does seem to want to get the aesthetic of 1984) … thing is, and SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN IT, Chris Pine’s character in the original Wonder Woman appeared to, well, not make it out alive.

Which begs the question: How the heck is he in this film?

If you have even a casual knowledge of the Wonder Woman TV show featuring Lynda Carter, you should know that the series had the character appear in both World War 2 and, in subsequent seasons, the “present” of the 1970’s.  What was curious about that series is that actor Lyle Waggoner played two roles in the series.  In the first, taking place during World War 2, he was Major Steve Trevor…

Image result for lynda carter lyle waggoner wonder woman

In the “new” adventures of Wonder Woman, set in the then present, he played… Coloner Steve Trevor Jr.!

Image result for lynda carter lyle waggoner wonder woman

So it would seem the Wonder Woman movies are perhaps doing something similar, having Chris Pine appear in both eras.  The question is, will this be a distant relative of Chris Pine’s original Steve Trevor from the first WW movie?

You know what?

I don’t really care too much about that.

What intrigues me much more is the fact that this movie is set in 1984.  Clearly there must be some reason for setting it in that year versus, say, in the “present”.

Thinking back to 1984, I recall world events of that time and wonder if those will play a role in the movie.  The Soviet Empire was on its way down but the Cold War was still in effect (the Berlin Wall would come down in 1989).  There was a feeling, at times, that nuclear conflict might happen.

Conversely, and within the U.S., there was the issue of cocaine and drugs in the U.S.  The TV show Miami Vice premiered in 1984 and for better or worse it became something of an aesthetic of that era…

So I’m wondering… could this movie take a little more from something like Miami Vice rather than world events at the time?  Or will it be a little of column “A” and column “B”?

Stay tuned… same Wonder channel, same Wonder time!

Whose property is it anyway…?

I love the internet.  It allows me fast access to near unlimited information, be they technical information, opinions, reviews, analysis, articles, etc. etc. etc.

I’ve learned much, almost every day, and while at times reading people’s opinions (and trolls) can be frustrating, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad and sort things out on your own.

One thing that I’m noticing, however, is that this opening in allowing people to opine on things like movies, books, and TV shows and I’m realizing this leads to a sense of ownership of these properties on the part of fans.

I’ve long pondered why there was an almost literal lynch mob around the release of Batman v. Superman, a movie I liked quite a bit -moreso in its Ultimate Cut- and its director Zack Snyder.  Whatever your opinion of the film is, to many it was as if Mr. Snyder had committed some kind of unforgivable sin with what he did with the characters.

After the film left theaters, the anger turned toward the Ghostbusters remake, though to a somewhat lesser degree, yet for many this too was some kind of unforgivable sin against a beloved property and the people behind it should be… I don’t know, what exactly?

More recently, there appears to have been something of a repeat in the release and the fan reaction with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  To many fans, the movie was a betrayal of the original Star Wars films (I don’t know… I have the film but as of yet haven’t seen it).

Today and over at Slate.com, I found this article by Willa Paskin which focuses on fan theories regarding the Benedict Cumberbatch starring Sherlock series, specifically that many fans of the show feel the character of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were/are lovers…

The case of the fractured fandom

I find that speculation, which isn’t terribly new regarding Holmes/Watson (the idea that they might secretly be homosexual lovers has been around since at least the 1940’s and likely before!), nonetheless in this era of the internet allowed groups of people, including someone mentioned within the article itself, to really go to town with developing this theory and offering examples of how the creators, in their opinion, were pointing towards this alleged relationship.

Which brings me to this point: Speculation and/or scorn toward the way characters are handled by fans is perfectly fine, but bear in mind: These characters are the property of others and they will do with them what they choose.

Sure, Sherlock Holmes is now in public domain, but the Sherlock TV show is being made by the BBC under the control of several individuals who make the decisions of how the show will progress.  They can, if they want to, read the many fans’ opinions on how the show should progress and whatnot, but ultimately they decide the direction of the show.

(A digression: I suspect the show is done and will not return for a fourth season.  I could be wrong, but that’s just my opinion).

Similarly, whether you liked them or not -and its certainly your right to love or hate them!- the people behind Batman v. Superman and the Ghostbusters remake were granted authority to use these characters and create these properties by the people/companies that control them.

The films themselves may have been great or horrid, but them’s the breaks… not everything works out and with properties such as Batman and Superman, just because one version comes out not to your liking doesn’t mean the ceiling’s about to fall in on any future incarnations of said characters.  Superman survived the release of the not very good Superman III and the outright terrible Superman IV and Batman certain survived the release and ridicule which came after Batman and Robin.

I guess my point is this: Sometimes fandom needs to back off, at least a little, take a breath, and understand that your pleasure/disgust and speculations regarding property X are just that: YOUR opinions on it.

Do you hate Batman v. Superman?  Do you feel the characters in Sherlock are lovers?  Do you feel The Last Jedi was a betrayal of the original Star Wars films?

That’s perfectly legitimate… for you.

And you have every right to either hate these works or love them or speculate about their meaning or anything else you desire.

My worry -and the great danger- is that when fandom becomes powerful enough to dictate the release of new creative endeavors, then we’re treading into dangerous waters.

I feel fandom did affect what DC has done since the release of both Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad.  One has but see the Justice League film to see that end result.

Will the pressure of fans lead, if it should happen, to have Sherlock season 4 reveal that Holmes and Watson are lovers?  Will we have a Last Jedi redo where Luke Skywalker is treated “better”?

I worry when fans become such a powerful force.

But I suppose I also worry too that certain properties have become as big as they are and brings out these emotions in people.

The other day I looked up the top films of 1979 (don’t ask) and it surprised me that the #1 box office film of that year was… wait for it… Kramer vs. Kramer.  The other nine films, in order, were:

The Amityville HorrorRocky IIApocalypse NowStar Trek: The Motion PictureAlien10 (the Bo Derek film), The JerkMoonrakerThe Muppet Movie.

Interesting list, no?  Only two of the movies were sequels and/or part of a series (Rocky II and the James Bond film Moonraker) while a few others became series and/or had sequels but at this point were original works.

Compare that list with the top box office films of last year, 2017:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, The Fate of the Furious, Despicable Me 3, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Wolf Warrior 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman.

Of these ten films, a whopping EIGHT of them are part of a series and/or are sequels to other films and one of them, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is a somewhat-sequel/remake of an original work.  The only “original work” is actually a live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast animated film!

So, essentially, NONE of the top 10 highest grossing films of 2017 were “original” works from start to end.

None.

In conclusion, perhaps it’s no wonder, given how many sequels and cultural blanketing these works have created, that fans become so enmeshed in these works.