15 August 2003 | mt9045
A genuine travesty
When I read the promotional statements about the new proposed Lone Ranger series on the WB, I was immediately set to wondering how in the world they'd do the teen-aged version of someone whose entire identity was based upon the idea of having none, subjugating his own individuality for a grander idea of becoming the embodiment of western justice and lawfulness. Quite obviously the answer was to screw the entirety of the original and go with a repulsive hybrid which retained virtually nothing but the name.
In principle, remakes of classic characters can be accomplished without totally trashing everything that was good about the original and necessary for those who remember the original (the single reason I can imagine it makes any sense to do it in the first place) to accept the revision. The WB execs, however, wouldn't know about this, and have shown in every case that they (or their hired contractors) know more than the characters' originators. Thus, we get a semi-powerless, uncostumed Clark Kent who may never become Superman at all (the acceptance of which by the TV public resulting in all the awful reworkings of other characters to follow), we get Birds of Prey who bear only superficial resemblance to the comic book they came from (with disastrous results), and we get a Tarzan set in New York played by a blond underwear model. Thus it is no surprise that they attempted to update the Lone Ranger a la "Young Guns," applying wildly inappropriate casting, characterization, costuming, dialogue, music, and approach to something that needed alteration only in tone and the storyline sophistication to elevate it from its juvenile entertainment roots. Luckily, I've already forgotten everything about it that I can, though I fear some aspects will haunt my nightmares for years to come.
About the only aspect of the basic concept of the Lone Ranger that had any need to be altered was the reason for wearing the mask, which was glossed over by the TV series, and seemed only to serve as a plot complication in which someone would have to be convinced that he was not an outlaw despite the costume. The revisions here were complete, and inane, and the mask only served here to make the poor actor look like a complete idiot. The less said about everything else, the better.
The single reason I write this is to clear up the mistaken assertion of another reviewer here. The Lone Ranger's costume and likeness are owned by Golden Books Inc., who were responsible for this production as copyright holder; they could have used whatever aspects of the original they wanted, including the costume, civilian name, story elements, et al. Clayton Moore owned NOTHING involved with the Lone Ranger, and in fact was enjoined by the copyright owners of the time (Mattel, I believe, circa 1981) of the release of the prior travesty of the character ("Legend of the Lone Ranger" starring the "immortal" Klinton Spilsbury, redubbed by James Keach) from wearing either the tunic or mask of the Lone Ranger in the public appearances he'd been making for decades, because they would "confuse the public." They later relented, but Moore never owned any of it and has nothing to do with anything apart from surely rolling in his grave. Similarly, Rossini's "William Tell Overture" is public domain, and free for anyone to use. So each of the awful choices made by the producers were freely made and totally their fault.
There are no excuses except the hubris possessed by virtually every producer who has ever come near a camera in the history of film, combined with the presumption that the original idea they've been charged with retelling is either hopelessly out of date, misconceived, or somehow flawed--because it would "obviously" still be in production if none of these were true. What makes me saddest of all is that I cannot think of a single instance in the dozens of recent examples where the revived result was superior in any way to the original, except in terms of the amount of money thrown at it. Perhaps, someday, there will be one. It would be a happy, and very welcome, surprise.