On the latest episode of the Hollywood Babble-On Podcast with Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman, Kevin Smith announced that MGM has asked him to revive The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai for television. Thanks to his directing last week’s episode of The Flash (which really played to Smith’s strengths), it looks like studios think there’s something to letting talented fanboys play with their toys.
Smith’s suggestion to MGM covers two seasons:
“Basically you just do the entire movie for season one, then season two you finally do the sequel we’ve all dreamed about, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League.”
The 1984 movie starred Peter Weller as Buckaroo Banzai, an inventor, brain surgeon, literal rock star, and crusader for justice. With his Hong Kong Cavaliers — also musicians/scientists/adventurers — we were told he traveled the globe, though the adventure we saw, Across the Eighth Dimension, struck to his upbringing as they battled other-dimensional aliens who had been involved with one of his father’s experiments. It was a twisted, new wave version of The Man of Bronze, written by Earl Mac Rauch and directed by W.D. Richter. Among the Hong Kong Cavaliers were Clancy Brown as Rawhide, Jeff Goldblum as New Jersey, and Ellen Barkin as Penny Priddy.
As Smith mentioned in his plans, the film ended with the promise of a sequel — Against the World Crime League. Though this did not get produced, it’s referenced heavily in Mac Rauch’s novelization, which proves how deeply thought out the mythology of Buckaroo Banzai was. Smith says he would like to reach out to Mac Rauch and Richter to get some involvement with them if possible.
This also isn’t the first time that the concept has been attempted for television. In 1998, the Fox Network announced Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries, but never put a pilot into production. Mac Rauch had a pilot script, titled “Supersize Those Fries” which was later adapted into the Moonstone Books’ comic Buckaroo Banzai: Return of the Screw.
Just last week, Shout! Factory announced that a blu-ray edition of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension would be released on August 16, 2016. Presumably it would have the extras that were on the 2006 DVD, including commentary by Mac Rauch posing as the “real” Reno, one of the Hong Kong Cavaliers.
In an era when STARZ can bring back The Evil Dead for ten half-hour episodes a season, Buckaroo Banzai could work easily. Remaking the original film may or may not be necessary, but with a new cast, it’s worth trying. The beauty of what Mac Rauch and Richter created is that there’s plenty of places to go, and Smith’s right: fans have been dying to see Buckaroo Banzai go up against the World Crime League and its mastermind, the villainous Hanoi Xan, who killed both Buckaroo’s parents and his wife Peggy Priddy.
Though the original cast has aged out of their original roles, Smith says he would like to bring them on board, too — perhaps as villains. In addition to Weller and Goldblum, the original villains included John Lithgow as Dr. Emilio Lizardo, possessed of an alien intelligence named John Whorfin, and Christopher Lloyd as the put-upon red lectroid John Bigboote.
Smith swears it’s a done deal and he’s moving forward. It was sudden; he has Yoga Hosers to open, after all. But if Smith can get a pilot of the ground and then become executive producer, this revival could work AND Smith fans get to still see all his promised other projects.