Remember the 1980s, when Val Kilmer was a fresh faced young actor with star-making roles in Top Gun and Willow ahead of him? Ah, those were the days. And if you have a fondness for that particular decade in popular culture, it’s very likely that Real Genius, only Kilmer’s third credited role (his first was the underappreciated gem Top Secret! and his second was an ABC After School Special), has an important place in your heart. Well get ready to revisit the campus of Pacific Tech, because Real Genius is getting a sitcom remake courtesy of NBC and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company.
As unnecessary as the whole thing seems to me, I was still moderately on board until that last part, and until learned the rest of the details. It’s not even the Sandler part that worries me. As many bad movies as he’s made recently (why does Al Pacino rap in Jack and Jill?), movies like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and Punch Drunk Love are still good. Happy Madison, however, is responsible for some of the most god awful, unwatchable crap that has ever been produced. I’ll give them Joe Dirt and Don’t Mess With the Zohan are both incredible works of genius, but Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, the Deuce Bigelow movies, The Hot Chick, the list of atrocities could go on for days.
Deadline reports that the single-camera, half-hour sitcom is being developed and received a script commitment from the network. There’s actually decent potential for a 30-minute comedy here. College, at least on TV, can be an endless series of wacky misadventures and colorful characters. And with shows like Silicon Valley and Big Bang Theory, this particular brand of nerdery captured by Martha Coolidge’s 1985 cult favorite could fit nicely into the landscape. It could also turn out to be absolute trash, but that’s possible with every show in development everywhere, and it sounds like they’re going their level best to take something fun and original and make it totally uninteresting.
Most of me wishes they simple ripped off the smart-kid-college concept and left Real Genius out of it. There’s such a unique brand of sarcasm and antiestablishment undercurrent that has a sharp bite, and it’s hard to imagine that translating well to a network sitcom. And they could bring Val Kilmer back, his Christ Knight character could be a cool, wacky professor that both helps the kids get into mischief and bails them out when they get busted. Maybe not, maybe that would just be sad at this point.
Here is probably the saddest part of the whole thing, this series is also apparently being reimagined as a “workplace comedy,” because we don’t have enough of those. What it sounds like is that the creative team of Craig DiGregorio (Workaholics) and David King (Parks and Recreation) are only taking the dynamic between the two main characters and leaving everything else behind. There’s a “rock star-like genius” and he interacts with “a sheltered, naive coworker.” That sounds boring and completely uninspired, so much for any possible enthusiasm.