Review: 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do The Time Warp Again' is a glamorous, modern reboot
First impression: It looks too clean.
Second impression: That's a lot of glitter.
When I first heard Fox was creating a modern TV remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show from 1975, my right eye did a little twitch. It hit a little too close to my cult classic-loving home. What next, a remake of A Clockwork Orange *shudders*
In a culture consumed by nostalgia, it seems nothing is sacred. And it certainly doesn't matter if there's "nothing wrong" with the original. We crave fresh twists on classics and modern retellings, even if it just means we will love the original more after seeing a shoddy remake.
Fox had the lofty task of remaking some serious classics into TV shows — The Exorcist, Lethal Weapon and now Rocky Horror. I wasn't as worried about the former two, but I seriously stressed over how the network could possibly recreate the beloved characters from a bonkers film.
In short, Fox's reboot, executive produced by Lou Adler, Gail Berman and Kenny Ortega, is a bit too wholesome, glittery and glamorous. But it's perfectly created to reel in a new generation of Time Warp fans.
In place of the juicy red lips singing the opening number Science Fiction/Double Feature is a vintage movie theater usherette singing and guiding people to their seats. The reboot nods to the traditional audience participation of the original with "viewers" throwing popcorn, wearing party hats and holding up lights during key scenes.
Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) is a superb Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the eccentric alien scientist from the planet Transylvania. She stands out against a cast of bonkers characters and even has some of the same eye and lip twitches as the original Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Tim Curry (he plays the narrator/criminologist in the remake).
I was also very happy to see a transgender actress in another lead role.
Cox is easily the top performer and has the stage presence to carry the show, even if she doesn't have the same gritty voice as Tim Curry. She isn't just an actress dressed up as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. She puts her own twists on the fishnet tights-clad madman.
Annaleigh Ashford shines as a punk version of squeaky Columbia, while Christina Milian's Magenta comes off as if Fox forgot about her character. They both had their crowning moments in the Time Warp number, but faded from there.
Fox made both of them a bit too cheerful.
Magenta's brother Riff Raff (played by Reeve Carney) isn't quite as creepy in the reboot. But Carney perfects that raspy voice made famous by the original Riff Raff, Richard O'Brien.
Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors and Victoria Justice as Janet Weiss are fine. McCartan's Brad is just awkward and protective enough, but Justice's Janet is slightly less seductive than Susan Sarandon's. Though Justice does wear the exact style of bra and slip as Sarandon did in the original.
The overarching theme of Rocky Horror is the loss of innocence, but Brad and Janet stumble out of the castle/abandoned movie palace looking lost, not sexually invigorated, in the remake.
Adam Lambert's Eddie definitely doesn't have enough screen time. While the rest of the movie's songs sound more rock ‘n' roll than Rocky Horror in the remake, Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul stays closest to its original form.
Staz Nair's Rocky, the hunky bleach blonde science experience created by and for Dr. Frank-N-Furter, has the same lost look in his eyes, but is more like a goofy Flintstone character. And his shorts definitely aren't short enough.
All of these characters are adorned with glittery gowns, studded leather jackets, candy-colored hair and shimmery fishnet tights. Everyone seems a bit more covered up and subdued than in the original. It doesn't feel as sexy or forbidden or mysterious.
You can thank the family-friendly 8 p.m. time slot for that.
But a family-friendly version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show isn't bad. Fox is modernizing a cult classic for a new generation, full of quirky, lovable characters plucked from a far-off planet here to tell you, Don't Dream It, Be It.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do The Time Warp Again premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday on Fox.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham.