Here is some excellent news that I promise is excellent, just wait for the second part: M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and let's leave it there) is coming to television, developing a supernatural drama series for Syfy called Proof. And here is that second part that should have many of us very psyched: he will co-write this project with Marti Noxon, former writer, producer, and showrunner of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, screenwriter of the Fright Night remake (which was excellent), and trusted confidante of Joss Whedon. Tell me this woman isn't the perfect person to team with a guy who once wrote really good suspense and then veered off into Crap Town.
Marti Noxon's most recent TV work has been on Glee and Mad Men, but make no mistake -- this woman will be right at home at Syfy. Proof is about the son of a deceased billionaire and his wife who offers one lucky person a buttload of money if they can offer proof that there is life after death. While this kind of emotion-laden drama seems right up Shyamalan's alley, Noxon is the one who will be able to tell him to lighten up a little bit. In the meantime, both of them will be able to freak us out with paranormal goodness.
Some people might not agree with me. If you Google Marti Noxon, one of the first things that you'll see is "Marti Noxon ruined Buffy." Some people were just not happy with the direction Noxon took the show when Whedon handed over a lot of creative control. (In response, Whedon said, "Dis not th' Nox.") And she is well aware of it, and addressed it in an interview last year:
When you Google my name, one of the first sites that comes up is “Marti Noxon Ruined Buffy.” [laughs] I mean, Spike trying to have his way with Buffy was pretty dark, but we all make mistakes man. But the beginning of college is pretty gnarly. At least they got to sing, right?
I defy anyone to find a similar quote by M. Night Shyamalan after The Last Airbender bombed. Or The Lady in the Water. Or The Happening.
Mistakes aside, Marti Noxon has a serious knack for marrying the creepy and fantastical with smart humor and good dialogue. And not that it's relevant to Proof, but the woman is serious about her genre work. In addition to all those years on Buffy (as well as Angel and the short-lived Point Pleasant), she successfully updated the '80s horror comedy Fright Night, turning it into a remake that was absolutely worth everyone's time. (You may not have seen it because you didn't want to spend the extra money to see it in 3D, which was practically the only way it was shown in theaters. Which was dumb, because it was a perfectly fun movie in two dimensions and could have had a better chance at the box office. Anyway... )
But it always seems like Noxon's approach to her work, whether it's about singing high-schoolers or singing vampire slayers, is to tell the best possible story while staying self-aware. What is Proof really going to be, when push comes to shove? A show on the Syfy channel. A show about a guy who is looking for evidence of life after death. That leaves plenty of room for quirk and humor. This guy has also lost both of his parents, and that leaves room for an emotional human story. Shyamalan told great stories in his first batch of movies about people who were experiencing something abnormal, but were, at their core, still just people. (See: Mel Gibson's grief in Signs, his struggle with his faith, and then all those aliens taking over the world.) And then he started taking himself way too seriously and, as a result, lost his way in his more recent offerings. (And became a running joke on Robot Chicken: "What a twist!") Marti Noxon is great at telling stories about people in crazy situations, plus she's fun.
Shyamalan needs help in the "fun" department, and he has found the perfect partner in Marti Noxon. I don't know about you, but I think Proof might be seriously awesome.
When she isn't nerding out that the holidays are coming, Jamie is a reader at Monday Night Fan Fiction at Fontana's in Chinatown, NYC (next date: TBA, 7:00 PM). All work is original, written by the readers, so if you have a brilliant fanfic idea stuck in your head, send it via Twitter: @jamielikesthis