The idea of trying to re-create The Rocky Horror Picture Show for network television pretty much sounds like the worst idea ever, and yet today we learned that Frank N. Furter and the denizens of Transsexual Transylvania are indeed coming to TV this fall on Fox. This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Fox has decided to redo the midnight movie of all midnight movies as a two-hour event special, tentatively titled The Rocky Horror Picture Show Event. It will be executive produced by Gail Berman, along with the original 1975 movie’s producer Lou Adler and Kenny Ortega, who is set to direct and choreograph. Yes, the same Kenny Ortega best known for directing the High School Musical trilogy.
This isn’t the first time there has been an attempt to revive the musical for a television event; the last time was for MTV in 2008, but wiser heads prevailed and that fell through. While there is nothing inherently wrong with re-staging the musical (as has been done many, many times, with a successful Broadway run a few years back) the idea of doing it for network TV seems ridiculous–this is a musical about an alien transvestite mad scientist who creates a muscle man to be his sex slave and then seduces the wholesome hetero couple who get stranded in his castle. The idea of white-washing this to win over the audience who watched Sound of Music Live and Peter Pan seems like a mistake. The last time Fox attempted to sanitize Rocky was a few years back in a terrible episode of Glee, where all the transgressive elements of the musical were basically taken out. If you’re going to do that, what’s the point?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest running theatrical movie in history, playing at midnight in theaters all across the country to packed houses of fans to this day. It was a huge part of my teenage years-before the internet, if you were a goth kid, or a gay kid, or just a weird kid who didn’t fit in, you found a family of fellow freaks every Saturday at midnight. It has a special meaning for people who grew up with it, starting back in the ’70s all the way through till today. For all those who loved and grew up with Rocky, here’s hoping Fox manages a way to not screw this up too badly.