Months after the latest attempt to make a Tremors TV series — this time with the original film’s star, Kevin Bacon, reprising his role as Val — fell by the wayside, the cast and crew of the scuttled show got together at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas. They screened clips from the never-aired SYFY pilot as well as doing a live-reading of the script, creating what very much felt like a pitch for the series — so much so that Hollywood trade Deadline ran it under a headline of “Is There Still Hope…?”. Along the way, the creatives behind Tremors talked about what appealed to them about it and what they had planned.
Production is currently underway for a seventh Tremors feature film, and the series did have a previous TV take. All of those, though, have starred Michael Gross in the role of Burt Gummer, introduced as an eccentric side character supporting Bacon’s Val in the original movie. When Bacon (as well as Reba McIntire, who played Burt’s wife) declined to come back for sequels, the town, and franchise, more or less found a way to go on without them. It was not until fairly recently that Bacon expressed an intereste in returning to Perfection, although according to the actor, he has always seem some potential in revisiting Val.
“It’s pretty much the only character I’d ever played in a movie that I ever thought, ‘This would be a fun guy to check out 25 years later,’ just because he was a mess. Finding out what had happened to him post worms would be an interesting journey,” Bacon said at ATX.
The idea of the series was to put Val through the wringer, depicting his rise and fall as a pop culture fiture in a short period of time. You can see a bit of that from the famous set photos of Val immortalized as a bobblehead — which was gathering cobwebs on a store shelf.
“The idea was that there’s this incredible character who was a nobody in this tiny town, and the idea seemed so fun to thrust him on the national stage, to make this Kevin Bacon character a ’90s heartthrob, and then take it away,” executive producer Andrew Miller said. “The notion was, ‘What if Perfection was the hottest town in the world for a minute, and then the Graboids don’t come back.’ Val was someone who still imagined himself as that ’90s superstar, even though those days are long gone. We wanted to explore that through his relationship with his daughter, who resented him for not paying attention to the present and for being a drunk and lost in the past.”
The idea of the series would have been to essentially act like the first movie had happened but ignore the sequels, at least at first, presumably so that fan-favorite Burt didn’t overpower the show and Val could be the lead character. Gross had said there were no plans that he knew of to give him a role on the show. In the series’ sixth film, Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, actress Jamie-Lee Money was introduced as Valerie McKee, the daughter of Bacon’s character. She was responsible for calling in Burt Gummer to hunt some monsters in the tundra.
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