“But the original wasn’t like that”: Adaptations from reboots to nerd comedy satires

By Danielle Cole

Adaptations aren’t new by any means. With all the reboots, revivals, and comic book movies, though, it’s clear they’re having a moment. As the number of adaptations rises, a discussion is emerging about how much change is too much. When is a piece an adaptation and when is it more of a demolition? Today, I’m taking on this question and considering it in relation to everything from this year’s Halloween hit horror series, The Haunting of Hill House to The Dandies’ nerd comedy satires.

Striking the balance in The Haunting of Hill House and nerd comedy satires

Outside The Dandies, I split my time between acting and writing. In both sides of my career, I’ve had a chance to work on adaptations, including The Dandies nerd comedy satires. I’ve learned that, when creating adaptations – be they horror series or nerd comedy satire shows, you always have to think about the relationship to the source material. What is the balance of honouring this material while still allowing the adaptation to have a life of its own?

This is a tricky question. After all, each adaptation has a different relationship to its source material and what works for one piece might not for another. Similarly, what strikes one audience member as the perfect balance might not appeal to someone else. Take The Haunting of Hill House as an example. Newsday gave the series a poor review, declaring it too far off the original book.

Now, before I go any further, I should warn you that I’m a huge The Haunting of Hill House fan. My favourite horror film is the version of the film and I also love the book. I’ve even watched the 1999 version of the film… multiple times.

As a The Haunting of Hill House fan, I love the new series because it is such a departure. Knowing the story as well as I do, I wasn’t expecting the series to take me on a new journey; but, by choosing to use the source material for loose inspiration, it was able to do just that. At the same time, the series had similar themes around family, grief, loneliness, fear, and more. That exploration of similar themes made me feel that there was still a love of the original book in this take on The Haunting of Hill House.

Finding the balance in nerd comedy satires

Most of the time, adaptations have similar goals to their source material. When dealing with spoof, however, like The Dandies’ nerd comedy satires, the purpose of the piece changes. Unlike our source material, which is often quite serious, our shows are about making audience members laugh. In order to do that, we riff off the original material, finding silliness and humour – even in places that didn’t initially have any.

At the same time, in order for a satire to work, it has to be steeped in the source material. Without that, audience members wouldn’t recognize the nerd comedy universes we’re playing in and our jokes would fall flat.

Like with The Haunting of Hill House, we end up taking our own path, exploring characters, relationships, and plot lines that are unique to our shows. On the other hand, we show the same love for our source material, drawing on it for themes, settings, and more.

In the end, I think the right balance for each adaptation is unique. That’s because each adaptation is its own entity – and creating it is an art. Upside, if an adaptation’s balance the doesn’t work for you, you still have the source material. And if you do like it, now you get to enjoy the original and the adaptation!

Want to learn more about how the The Dandies adapt material for our nerd comedy satires? You can check out everything from our costume design process, to how we create characters to our convention preperations. Then, come check out The Dandies in action at Holodeck Follies – our monthly nerd comedy Star Trek satire!