Pilot Script Review of The Lost Boys (2020)
Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars and iZombie) has been kicking around a series adaptation of the 1987 Warner Bros horror comedy movie The Lost Boys with The CW for quite a while now, starting in 2016. First envisioned as a seven-season anthology, the original plan was to tell a story spanning 70 years, with each season chronicling a different decade. Season 1 was to be set in San Francisco during 1967's summer of love. Each subsequent season would be set in a different place at a different time, with only the vampires returning. While that project didn't go to pilot (Thomas later confessed it "went too far outside the box"), network brass remained high on the title and redeveloped it last year. With Thomas busy with his Veronica Mars reboot for Hulu, writer Heather Mitchell (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) stepped in to write the new take under Thomas' auspices (read my pilot script review). Though it didn't get ordered series, the network kept the project alive, ordering (and then punting on) a retooled pilot.
In January of 2020, The CW picked up a new pilot with a new cast, based on a reworked version of Heather Mitchell's script by Thomas himself. Marcos Siega, who helmed pilots for the CW series The Vampire Diaries and Batwoman as well as FOX's The Following and The Passage, was directing the new pilot when production was halted by the coronavirus outbreak. Just a couple of days were left to finish the shoots, meaning The CW could use what they have to make a decision on a series order.
WRITTEN BY: Heather Mitchell, revised by Rob Thomas
DRAFT DATE: 01/26/20
PAGE COUNT: 60 pages
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: "Watermelon Sugar" by Harry Styles plays in the background as we open on a party in a North Carolina beach house. Just as gorgeous ELSIE (20) arrives, she's nearly knocked over by a horny couple, BRAD and JANET. The camera follows them as they try to cut a line into a bathroom before finding a room with a "do not enter" sign at the door that they open anyway. After heading down a flight of stairs, they arrive in a dark room where a row of coffins are lined up. They instantly try to flee but two vampires, BENJAMIN and CORA (20s), block them and eventually bite them as party sounds cover their screams.
The next day, LEVI (18) sits in the backseat of a moving car, typing a message on his phone as his mother JACKIE (40s) drives with his brother GARRETT (21) by her side. Levi's voiceover reads us the message he's sending to a friend. He describes his mom deciding to move them to Mustang Bay, where she bought her father's bed and breakfast. To lighten the mood and help Jackie stay awake, Garrett puts some Taylor Swift on, much to his brother's disgust. Later, they stop at a gas station near their destination where Levi stumbles upon a RAGGEDY GIRL (18), who asks him for a few bucks. He reaches for his wallet and gives her some money, but before he can say anything, she's already gone with a smile. As Levi gets back in the car, he's startled to see a "No Vampires' sticker affixed to one of the pumps. Welcome to Mustang Bay.
COMMENTS: After The CW chose to retool last year's passed-over pilot for The Lost Boys, Rob Thomas told Deadline “There were scenes that we thought we could do a better job on, so it’s going through a 40% rewrite. It’s not a total rewrite.” Having read both, I'd say it's more like a 70% rewrite and though the spirit remains the same, it felt to me like I was reading something almost entirely new. Part of that has to do with the change of settings: this version moved the story from Santa Carla, California — where the original movie was set — to Mustang Bay, North Carolina. Still a small beach town, but possibly darker. The pilot was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, where teen dramas Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill were famously shot back in the day, and based on the feel of those two shows, the setting feels more grounded and somehow more believable, if that makes any sense for a vampire story.
While I found this pilot script stronger than last year's version, I still think The Lost Boys lacks the kind of originality a vampire tale needs to succeed in today's television landscape. Whereas last year's script felt like a Vampire Diaries 2.0, this one feels more like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.0 (minus the feminist stance). This script is faster paced, gets to the vampire bits more quickly, and features smarter dialogue and livelier characters. Thomas has a unique sense of humor that's recognizable from afar. The show sets up an interesting battle between the two brothers, as Garrett, the older one, is clearly a vampire in training while Levi is the "chosen one" to hunt them, Buffy style. He's even helped by his own Rupert Giles: Uncle E, aka Edgar Frog, a comic book store owner who has encyclopedic knowledge about vampires.
As Levi is 18 and Garrett is 21, most of their time is devoted to parties and walks on the beach. The script is full of soapy love stories, starting with both our leading men finding themselves in love triangles within the first few pages. Garrett has Elsie, a girl-next-door beauty who's as damaged as he is, and Cora, a dead sexy, mean girl who's in fact many many years old. Meanwhile, Levi is torn between Willa "Billie" Frog and Lilian "Lilly" Flores, collectively known as the "Frog sisters." As for Levi and Garrett's mother Jackie, she's single now, but she too has two love interests: her old high school flame Deuce, who's now the sheriff of the town, and Benjamin, the charismatic leader of the vampires there who also happens to be Garrett's father (although he hasn't aged since she left).
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: The Lost Boys' new pilot script is considerably improved, and with some further tweaking it could be a fun, twisty show. Can it draw an audience? That's another question entirely. I'm still not convinced there's a huge market for another derivative vampire series — especially on The CW, which still has Legacies.
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] PASS
[ ] RECOMMEND
BEST FIT: Pairing it with Legacies for a vampire night could make sense.