The concept of the gritty reboot hit peak self-parody in 2012, when Hollywood found itself so bereft of ideas they turned out an action blockbuster adaptation of the board game Battleship. It’s hard to think of a more farcical reboot than that – but Will Smith is planning to give it a run for its money, having announced an updated version of the show that made him an acting star, gentle family sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.
As early as 2015, Smith had been fairly seriously exploring the idea of rebooting the show. However, this isn’t a matter of Smith going mad with power – it’s based on a fan project by director Morgan Cooper, one of those faux-trailers that go viral now and again, which, yes, re-envisioned the beloved sitcom as a straight-faced maudlin drama. You can watch it below:
Chris Collins, known for his work on The Wire and Sons Of Anarchy, is attached as showrunner, with Cooper directing. Also attached behind the scenes are the creators of the original show, Andy and Susan Borowitz, as well as original producers Benny Medina and Quincy Jones.
Deadline have reported that various streaming services, including Netflix, Peacock, HBO Max, Amazon, and Apple, are interested in the project – noting, seemingly with no sense of irony, that this would be another in the endless series of sitcoms which Peacock are looking to reboot.
Cooper described the project as “a reinterpretation” based in “modern-day life in 2019” – and when Smith himself witnessed the trailer, he was glowing in his praise, telling Cooper “that’s an idea that is brilliant”, but he did also seem to see the funny side of it, describing it as “ridiculous”.
Make no mistake, these faux-trailers with dramatic shifts in genre are usually created for the purposes of comedy, rather than as a pitch for an actual TV run – and it’s hard to think that Cooper’s po-faced retelling of the Fresh Prince intro wasn’t done with tongue lodged firmly in cheek. But if the Where’s Waldo gritty reboot had been picked up by a film studio, it’s unlikely the makers would have said no. And given that Collegehumor made a short depicting a lazily ‘gangsta’ version of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air all the way back in 2009, they must be kicking themselves now.
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