Director David Cronenberg’s 1983 classic Videodrome has a lot of disturbing things to say about the dependence of Americans upon TV, and by extension entertainment media in general. As it says, in one of its most famous segments:
“The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.”
What should we make, then, of today’s news that the 75-year-old Cronenberg is creating a new TV series? What could we get from the creator of films such as The Brood, Scanners and Rabid, but also more modern stories such as A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method? Which Cronenberg will show up? The body horror icon of his early years, or the modern dramatist? The director has taken on single episodes of TV in the past—including an episode of Friday the 13th: The Series, in one of his lower moments—but never has he developed a TV series of his own.
There’s no news yet on what the series might be about, but Cronenberg has made it clear that he believes the “small screen” and the “big screen” experiences are drawing ever closer together. Speaking with Variety he said the following: “today TV screens are getting bigger and bigger and therefore the difference between theatre and domestic viewing has become really flimsy…The rule used to be that closeup shots were only done for TV, and not for movies. But today that’s no longer the case.”
Cronenberg’s last two features, 2012’s Cosmopolis and 2014’s Maps to the Stars, drew mixed critical reviews and didn’t receive wide releases, so perhaps the director feels that he’s reached a turning point in his career; an opportunity to explore new avenues.
Before we conclude, we’d be remiss not to put in a plug for the 2012 horror film Antiviral by Cronenberg’s son, Brandon Cronenberg. It remains the younger Cronenberg’s only directorial effort to date, and we can promise you that it’s just as disturbing as anything dreamt up by the senior Cronenberg, if not even moreso.