You know what kids love? Musicals from 1971 turned into a movie in 1978 set in the 1950s and updated for the 21st century. At least that’s what HBO Max is hoping with their order of a new series called Grease: Rydell High, a spin-off series of the film adaptation of the musical Grease. Are we looking at Glee set in the 1950s? Find out more about the Grease TV series below.
HBO Max sent out a press release today announcing Grease: Rydell High. Here’s the official synopsis and poster:
A joyous musical series set in and around the world of Rydell High, the show reimagines the global smash hit movie with some characters you already know, and a whole lot more you will soon meet. It’s still the 1950s, a world that rocks with big musical numbers from the period combined with new original songs as well. It’s the peer pressures of high school, the horrors of puberty, and the rollercoaster of life in middle America with a modern sensibility that will bring it to life for today’s musical lovers.
If the series includes some of the characters we know, and it’s still set in the 1950s, then we’re going to get totally new versions of those characters instead of any of the original cast members returning as older versions of the characters they played in the original movie. Presumably characters like Danny Zuko (John Travolta), Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John), Rizzo (Stockard Channing), Kenickie (Jeff Conaway) and the rest of the Pink Ladies and T-Birds will pop up here and there (again, not played by their original actors), but they probably won’t be the focus of the new series.
What I’m wondering is if this series will take place after the events of the first movie. If so, they’re gonna have a hard time explaining Danny and Sandy flying off into the sky at the end. Then again, maybe series unfolds alongside the events of Grease. Perhaps Danny and Sandy will merely be referenced as off-camera characters while their friends will be the characters appearing in the series.
But after this announcement, I’m wondering who exactly this is for. Fans of the original Grease probably won’t be all that interested unless some of the original cast members have cameos in some capacity. Since the main characters will otherwise be teens, there’s not much appeal for those nostalgic for Grease. Meanwhile, I’m not sure today’s kids are going to be up for what will probably be a 1950s version of Glee, especially if they’re only using songs from that time period along with original songs.
On top of all that, it’s hard enough to do a musical movie with original songs, how are they going to manage it with a weekly series? Smash, Galavant and My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have all done it and succeeded to some extent, but there’s a reason musical shows are very rarely attempted.
Even so, HBO Max’s head of original content, Sarah Aubrey, thinks they have something worthwhile on their hands:
“Grease is an iconic pop-culture phenomenon that works for every generation, and I’m thrilled that our friends at Paramount were excited about the idea of opening up the show and putting it on a larger canvas for a weekly series. This is high school and life in small-town USA told on the scale of a big rock’n’roll musical. It’s Grease 2.0 but with the same spirit, energy, and excitement you immediately think of when you hear any of these iconic songs. You’re the One That I Want!“
The fact that they mention this being a weekly series is interesting. That would imply that HBO Max won’t be following Netflix’s release model of releasing episodes of an entire season all at once. Instead, their original shows may arrive weekly like traditional television.
As of now there are no executive producers named beyond the general involvement of Paramount Television, Temple Hill and Picturestart. All three of them are also working on that Grease prequel Summer Lovin’ that was announced earlier this year. There are also no writers or directors announced yet. So we’re not sure whether this is something we can look forward to yet. Stay tuned.
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