2020 Is A Huge Year For 1960s Franchises
Franchises from the 1960s are making something of a comeback in 2020. Though the new decade is already off to a promising start when it comes to original ideas, some notable franchises from the '60s - both in film and television - are riding surprising highs. Though the content has no doubt evolved to keep with the times, their roughly 60-year-old roots are proving to be as relevant as they are timeless.
In a lot of ways, the 1960s was a turning point in the entertainment industry. The creative practices of yesteryear were becoming old hat, and Hollywood's creative lens was broadening. The decade ushered in new ideas and new perspectives, and creatives took it upon themselves to push boundaries, testing the limits of the medium. In fact, this sentiment is the central theme of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a veteran TV actor whose transition from his work in black and white TV Westerns of the '50s to the avant-garde direction of the '60s and beyond proves difficult. The times were changing - not only on screen, but culturally - and the entertainment industry was reflecting the era's defining social shifts. Whether or not they were prepared, the collective perspective of audiences would change too. Truth and innovation would replace idealistic concepts from bygone eras, opening a door for exploration into the unthinkable. And the sky was no longer the limit.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
Incidentally, three era-defining franchises debuted in the 1960s: 007, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. Though the latter two shared some similarities, seeing as they both centered around space exploration and extraterrestrials, they all left uniquely indelible impressions on audiences, sustaining their respective successes over the past 60-odd years, and becoming cultural icons. And, as fate would have it, they're sharing a collective high at the moment.
New Eras of Doctor Who & Star Trek
Both debuting in 1963, but on opposite sides of the pond, Star Trek and Doctor Who ushered in a new era of science fiction - balancing the wonder of exploration with all of the inevitable consequences that come with it. While films like 2001: A Space Odysseyand Planet of the Apeswould shape sci-fi in cinema with a reflective, even despairing narrative, television sci-fi had more universal intentions. With more time and freedom, these shows had the wiggle room to explore the far reaches of space as much as they could the genre's thematic potential as a whole.
Now, Doctor Who and Star Trek are growing with a new era. Doctor Who has officially found its footing in Jodie Whittaker's second season as the time-traveling Gallifreyan, likely on account of a divisive first go. In the same way Peter Capaldi's era really picked up in his sophomore season, New Who's series 12 has the benefit of a showrunner (Chris Chibnall) who seems to have taken feedback into account, reintroducing classic enemies, rebranding the Master with a spectacular interpretation from Sacha Dhawan, and finding a more suitable balance of screen time between the Doctor and her companions.
Meanwhile, Star Trek is more popular - and more broadly accessible - than ever. Following the critical success of Star Trek: Discovery, the franchise is branching out even further with the 2020 premiere of Star Trek: Picard, with Patrick Stewart back in the title role. After years of oftentimes playing second fiddle to Star Wars, which historically had a stronger relationship with mainstream audiences, Star Trek is balancing the scales. JJ Abrams gave the franchise a leg up in 2009 with his reboot in terms of satisfying the masses, and in doing so, it opened the door for casual and diehard fans alike for a deserving - and impressive - comeback.
Daniel Craig's Final Entry as 007
As '60s franchises like Star Trek and Doctor Who reach new heights in 2020, the 007 franchise will be tipping its hat to Daniel Craig in his final performance as James Bond. No Time to Diewill mark the end of Craig's run in the franchise, but also the beginning of new directions the franchise seems willing to explore. Not only are franchise creators open to casting a person of color as Bond himself, discussions about supporting character spinoffs are also being discussed. As long as 007 films have been around, the final run of its leads trigger new possibilities; Craig's era introduced a new grounded tone with the franchise, so it's natural to assume that future iterations will try their hand at pushing the envelope in potentially unexpected directions.
Collectively, these franchises defined their most successful eras by abiding two necessary, albeit unwritten rules: respecting their roots and evolving (or regenerating) with the times. And though there have been about as many misfires as there were hits, the fact that they're all succeeding well beyond the bygone decade they hail from is a testament to the fact that what they're doing is clearly working. Their relevance 60 years on isn't a fluke, it's a victory.
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