A Bloody Good Time 12.12.13: What If? - The TV Edition
Posted by Joseph Lee on 12.12.2013
What would have happened on The Walking Dead if Rick hadn't killed Shane? How would Buffy the Vampire Slayer have played out if Angel never got his soul back? 411's Joseph Lee looks at these scenarios and more!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
So this week I've taken five television shows with horror roots and applied some interesting "What if" scenarios to them. The goal is just to explore what a simple change could have done to the story of the show, the success and appeal of that show and of course how long it would have lasted.
I think it's pretty obvious to say there will be some serious spoilers in this column. I'll keep the one that's not filled with spoilers at the top of this edition and if you go past that you're the one to blame, not me. Last chance, get out now if you don't want to be spoiled on a popular TV show.
What if Fear Itself wasn't a failure?
Fear Itself is pretty much the third, much weaker season of Masters of Horror. Showtime wouldn't commit to a third season so Mick Garris took the format to NBC, gave it a new title and kept the same format (horror directors take on short films). The show was an abject failure with very little in the way of entertainment (although most agree that Stuart Gordon's Eater is fun). The ratings steadily declined each week until it was canceled with five episodes remaining un-aired. It was the last major horror anthology series to air, unless you could American Horror Story, which I don't.
The problem, I think, is that serial dramas are all the rage and for some reason anthology television isn't as popular is it used to be. Even in the summer with nothing but reruns as competition, it failed to gain an audience. The show itself was a lot worse than Masters of Horror. The quality of directors was less (no John Carpenters or Dario Argentos this season), the run time of an episode was smaller and the amount of gore/r-rated elements necessary for some of the stories wasn't included. It was a tame attempt at anthology horror.
But what if it wasn't? What if the stories presented were really good and the audience kept coming back? Would NBC have continued to air the show instead of never letting it finish its first season after the Olympics?
I don't think the show would still be on today. It could be, as it's only been five years, but most anthology shows last two or three years, tops. Even something like Tales from the Crypt was running on fumes near the end of its seventh season and the movies are somewhat proof of that. Fear Itself could still be on given its unique format, but it would be nearing its end. The bigger question is what would the effect of a major network anthology show do for television? Does the horror TV boom start earlier? Does anthology TV come back? Either scenario seems possible, but unlikely. The ratings for Fear Itself would have to be quite monstrous indeed in order to wake the networks up and get copycats going.
I guess the short answer is that if Fear Itself didn't fail, horror fans would have had some more anthology TV for a few years and then we'd be right back where we are. We're not doing bad, horror TV is very big right now, but I would like more Tales from the Darkside and less NBC's Dracula.
What if the Winchesters were unable to stop the Apocalypse?
This is kind of a cheat because Supernatural already had an episode devoted to this. We already know, in terms of the story, what happens if Sam says yes to Lucifer, can't control himself and the Apocalypse begins. Dean becomes cold-hearted, Castiel becomes a hippie and a lot of people, including Dean and Castiel, end up dying because Dean never said yes to Michael. Of course, this was all in a vision from Zachariah and could have been a trick, but I'd like to think it would be similar to that.
In this scenario, I'm going to say that Sam never says yes. The apocalypse still happens because Lucifer finds another host, or simply migrates to various hosts, while Michael grabs Adam as planned before. The Winchesters, by not saying yes and going through with their plan that eventually worked but could have failed, are powerless to stop the end of the world as we know it.
Assuming this was the big twist for season five, how would the show continue? I would say season six would actually have a clear direction: Sam and Dean trying to find a way to restore the planet and kill Lucifer and Michael. Castiel may or may not still be an angel but that's not really relevant to the plot. I would also assume the sheer guilt of not being able to stop the apocalypse because neither wanted to sacrifice the other would drive the show dramatically over the season. But would we ever see the mother of all monsters? The Leviathans?
The Leviathans could still arrive as they did at the end of season seven. Maybe the only way to kill Lucifer is to give Castiel enough souls to become god-like, or perhaps they intend to send Lucifer and Michael to Purgatory instead of the cage. I would assume that the plan to resurrect Eve would continue regardless of the Biblical scenarios as that was in motion anyway. If anything, the Winchesters wouldn't have had time to deal with her and she could have become an even bigger problem later on.
The show itself would likely continue, just with new and interesting stories. I doubt the end of the world is enough to keep a successful show like Supernatural down, although I wonder how a show made after the apocalypse would play. At least a clear endgame would be established for season six with the possibility of new monsters down the road. We would also not see the fall of Castiel as it played out in the show, which ended up being a very cool story turned very disappointing.
What if Mulder was wrong about aliens?
The entire premise of The X-Files is that aliens (and other supernatural beings) exist and the government is covering them up because our little minds just can't handle it. At least, that's what the government thinks. Fox Mulder, working as an FBI agent on the weirdest cases, is determined to prove otherwise at any cost. This question asks what if Mulder were wrong the entire time about aliens and they really didn't exist?
Well, in short, there would be no TV show called The X-Files. At least, it wouldn't have lasted as long as it did. Sure, the lack of aliens and government conspiracy would be gone, but there were other monsters that Mulder and Scully encountered that could have provided fuel for at least a season. This isn't a world where nothing supernatural exists, just aliens. In other words, it's just like Supernatural only the hunters are FBI agents.
The big question is if the show could have become as popular without the large conspiracy to fuel it. There was still the relationship of Mulder and Scully to build on, but it seems without the shadowy government figures and the constant questions of allegiance, as well as Mulder getting answers about his sister's "abduction" (which would be resolved a lot sooner I would think) would not be present and a lot of the drama and suspense would be gone.
It's really a silly question because it's obvious that without the cover-ups, there wouldn't be an interesting show. I think it could have continued for a season or two, but it likely would have ended a lot sooner and never became the huge hit that it was. This would definitely hurt FOX as a fledgling network, because The X-Files was one of those huge shows that brought it a bigger audience when it was just starting out. It wasn't the only show, but it was a big cornerstone of the network. It certainly would have set genre TV back several years as The X-Files opened the door for many similar copycats.
We also may never have had Millennium as a result, and that's a huge loss in my opinion.
What if Angel never regained his soul?
In season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy and Angel had sex, allowing Angel to get a moment of pure happiness and as a result he lost his soul. This turned him back into Angelus, a vampire so evil that it would regularly kill babies for fun. After getting hurt by what happened and losing the person she loved, Buffy eventually regained her composure and took the fight to Angelus to stop the end of the world. Of course, just as she was about to kill him, he regained his soul. She had to kill him anyway, but it made for a sad choice.
This question asks what if he didn't regain his soul? What if in the moment he acts like Angel again he's actually still evil and trying to trick Buffy? I don't think the trick would have worked, and Angelus would have been sent to Hell the same as before. Buffy's smarter and stronger than to fall for a trick like that. At best it would have stalled her for a moment and possibly caused her to get injured, but she'd still do what needed to be done. She would just be a lot less sad about it.
In terms of story, this doesn't mean that Angelus would be gone for good. The First Evil still brings him back to kill Buffy, it's just this time he wants to do it and is eventually killed permanently. Buffy may still leave Sunnydale for a time after what happened and the show would more or less continue as it did from there. Honestly, after season two Angel really isn't that important to the story. He has some moments with Buffy here and there but they weren't integral. He eventually left at the end of season three anyway.
That brings me to Angel, the Buffy spin-off. Needless to say, it never would have happened. That means that we never would have met Fred, Lorne, Gunn or any of the really great characters created for that show. Maybe Joss Whedon could have found a way to insert them into Buffy, or maybe they would have stayed on the cutting room floor. It's also possible we may never have seen Cordelia or Wesley grow into the more well-rounded characters they eventually became on that show. It would have also made the Spike storyline more interesting because Buffy no longer has Angel to worry about and yet, what happened to Angel could make her even more hesitant to get together with Spike.
The loss of Angel from the Buffyverse changes very little and at the same time it could change everything. It would change a lot for Buffy more than anything else, as Angel was more important to Buffy the person than Buffy the show after season two.
What if Shane had lived in The Walking Dead?
Over the course of season two, Shane becomes more hostile towards Rick and has different ways about how he would deal with the group's problems. He wants to be in charge, he wants to be with Lori and Carl and he definitely thinks that the new baby is his. Eventually he decides that the only way to settle things is to kill Rick and take over. Rick is wise to his plans and is forced to kill his former friend, who comes back as a zombie and is then killed again by Carl.
So what if Shane decides not to kill Rick? What if he does but then Rick talks him out of it? It seems unlikely given how far gone Shane is at that point, but the two used to be good friends. Maybe Rick stalls Shane long enough for Carl to come upon them and Shane, not being able to kill Rick in front of Carl, relents.
This would definitely change the dynamic of the show a lot. For one, Shane is always going to be a constant threat. Even if he decided not to do anything then, eventually he's going to snap. I would assume that Lori dies as she always did in the prison, since there would be nothing Shane could do to prevent that either way. At that point, while Rick loses his mind with grief, Shane takes over the group and makes the decisions.
I think this is the most interesting question on this week's list. I've been wondering ever since The Governor was introduced how Shane would deal with him. If Shane managed to gain control due to Rick's temporary insanity, then we would have definitely have found out. For starters, I think the events of last week's midseason finale happen a lot earlier. Except I think it's Shane that takes the war to Woodbury and it results in more lives being taken than would have eventually. Shane was on a path that would have made him a lot like the Governor, so it makes sense that the two would not be able to get along with each other.
Assuming he lived to season four, he wouldn't have kicked Carol out of the group for killing the infected. In fact, he may have done the killing himself. I don't think Shane would have lived much longer if he didn't die in season two, however. He may have lasted long enough to battle the Governor but Shane dies in the comics and eventually he's going to try to take out Rick again. It would have been interesting and fun to see him continue on a while longer, but someone like Shane was never going to survive this show.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week I'm going to look at the Silent Night, Deadly Night series and rank them. I hope you realize this means I have to rewatch the Silent Night, Deadly Night series. For you. You're welcome.
Closing Logo courtesy of Kyle Morton (get your own custom artwork and commissions at his Etsy account)
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