This is a very important question that head-honcho and creator of THE TRIBE Raymond Thompson must be seriously asking himself in his continuing endeavour to reboot a show that we all love so dear. In an era of strong post-apocalyptic media like THE WALKING DEAD and THE 100, nostalgia-fuelled continuations like THE GILMORE GIRLS and THE MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLD, and even full on reimaginings like POWER RANGERS, it seems, at least on paper, that a modern day version of THE TRIBE would be a shoe-in.
And yet, it hasn’t happened.
Is is truly because THE TRIBE was a product of its time, rendering it completely untranslatable for a modern audience? Or does the actual attempt itself at modernisation mean that THE TRIBE would lose its core identity in the process?
The last attempts at a reboot ended due to ‘creative differences’, both with the director attached to the Legendary deal and with the various parties that the concept was shopped to in Hollywood. We know that the integrity of THE TRIBE is extremely important to Raymond Thompson, but what exactly is causing those roadblocks?
It can’t be because of the issues explored within the show. We all know that THE TRIBE was way ahead of its time in not only tackling an incredible array of adult themes, but tackling them in such a respectful manner which didn’t talk down to the audience. Everything from disabilities to illnesses to abuse was covered on the show, and before it bowed out, it even tried to hit the LGBT mark. In fact, if anything, we know that the network originally interfered and tried to tone down this great aspect of the show.
Nowadays of course, these issues are a lot more prevalent and acceptable in teen shows. So no, we can not see this as being the problem at hand.
Could it be because of the tribestyles? Hhm, that’s very doubtful. Obviously, styles and trends ebb and flow with the years, but this would be an extremely minor issue to update for a modern version of THE TRIBE. Nowadays you really don’t bat an eye at hoddies, ripped jeans, metrosexual man-bags, a hipster’s shorts and sandals combo, or wearing pyjamas to the local store. Triballing up those styles would be simple (and quite possibly frightening!), easily allowing a modern audience to really connect with the show.
Then could it be because of the music? Again, this feels like such a small non issue, though we can easily admit that a lot of the music cues and composition from the show do feel more like a product of its time. Though these styles of compositions are still prevalent in certain types of shows now, modern audiences do expect more up-to-date incidentals, alongside key poignant scenes and visuals to have famous songs sung over them.
It can be hard to imagine something like Abe Messiah or Beep Beep being conceived and existing for a show now. But music really is a complimentary piece of a show – this minor issue can not be the great roadblock.
But then, if it isn’t specifically the adult issues that the show tackled, the outrageous tribestyles, or even the music, then what exactly could be keeping THE TRIBE stuck in development hell? Could it really be that the very identity of the show which is stopping it from being modernised?
I seriously doubt this too. Though ‘keeping the dream alive’ and ‘working to build a better future together’ are powerful core themes of the show, and though, ‘let’s all sing kumbaya and hold hands’ seemed to happen a lot, there were always fierce challenges and various hardships thrown at the characters. It had a positive message overall … but many current shows do, teen or otherwise. DOCTOR WHO’s madman in a box is a ‘hero’, whether he wants to be classed as one or not. And the surprise juggernaut that was GLEE bursted with nothing but sheer positivity through singing.
Even if Hollywood or the networks couldn’t completely agree with Raymond Thompson on exactly how much those positive messages should shine through, I am really struggling to believe that all these various parties had a direct issue with the core themes of THE TRIBE.
So, if none of those aspects could be the roadblocks to a reboot, where does that leave us? What exactly could ‘creative differences’ mean?
Well, there is one major aspect of modernisation that could truly turn the world of THE TRIBE completely upside down, an aspect that would directly affect its core themes, characters, and how the show was presented. We are of course talking about the lack of firearms in tribeworld.
It is something that we have touched on briefly in an editorial on the subject, but in a modern update of the show, the presence of firearms really is something that you simply couldn’t ignore, or easily brush aside, and it is here that we can begin to see the creative split which might have caused the roadblocks to a revival. Various networks and Hollywood would indeed expect tribes within the show to have access to firearms and weapons, and they would also expect this aspect to be heavily integrated into the storylines and character developments. Though it never felt like a massive issue to fans at the time, we can see how modern audiences could take up issues with having this being omitted from the world and storylines.
But would not the very implementation of this feature create a different show entirely? It certainly would – the question is, just how far would it change the show? The very core themes of THE TRIBE would certainly feel diluted within the framework of a world with weapons, whether their inclusion is seen to be more realistic or not.
This then begs the question whether it is simply impossible to have a positive show such as THE TRIBE whilst also showcasing guns as a means for survival. Would not the resulting violence, wars and absolute chaos – which must be presented on screen – simply mean that this construct is no longer THE TRIBE? Ultimately, could you see the Mall Rats decked out in handguns, trading fire with Tribe Circus as they attempted to protect the mall?
Is that image something that gels with everything that THE TRIBE was?
These are some seriously tough questions … the answers of which I don’t believe anyone can quickly come up with, however, if a modern version of THE TRIBE is to happen, the issue of firearms does need to be addressed. If this is the major roadblock to a revival, surely there must be a compromise, some happy medium that we could reach … but what that could be, I personally do not know.