If there is anyone who can save M. Night Shyamalan from himself, it's Marti Noxon

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.



    1. I have to agree.  It wasn’t terrible, but it was most certainly NOT excellent.  It had a lot of problems, squandered some really great talent and seemed to have real identity problems.  I wanted to like it and it really let me down.

  1. Just the fact of Shyamalan going to TV is good to hear. The main criticism that can be leveled at every one of his movies is they might have worked as an episode of the Twilight Zone. Feel like they should fit into 30 or maybe 60 minutes, not stretched into a feature film. He admitted in an interview, I think on the bonus materials for Unbreakable dvd, that he would have liked to write for the Twilight Zone.

  2. Her output lately has been a lot better than the much-maligned Buffy Season 6.. I believe I read somewhere that she sort of used the show to work out some personal issues, and it really showed.

  3. ***spoilers if you haven’t see Signs***

    There are few movies I hate more than Signs.  The theology of it was horrific.  It’s been a while, but from what I recall, all kinds of bad seemingly random bad things happen to the guy’s family, but then when an alien invasion happens, all it all works out so that they’re saved.  So the big plot twist is that it’s all part of god’s plan.

    HE gives the kid asthma so that the kid won’t inhale the poison.  HE makes the water taste funny so that there are half full glasses of water to use against the alien invaders.  Hey god – if you really want to help, why not just make the alien ship experience catastrophic engine failure in the icy depths of space.

    arg.  that movie bothered me so much that I am still grinding my teeth at the recollection years later.

    1. I liked the part where water-sensitive aliens decided to invade a planet that is visibly, as in from space you morons, rotten with the stuff best.

      Oh, and then the part where they mysteriously function just fine despite the fact that they’ve had dozens to hundreds of hours in contact with nontrivial water vapor levels in the atmosphere.

      Or no, maybe the part where aliens with nothing but vaguely-scary-claws and mysterious alien gas are somehow a serious threat to the armed forces of the world…

      The aliens could have just been crushed under the audience’s disbelief as it stopped being suspended and plummeted to the sticky theatre floor.

    2. Signs was asinine in every possible way.  On leaving the theater I only hoped the Signs had actually absorbed all the suckage in the universe, but there was enough left over to make The Village

    3. Jeez.  I liked Signs, but I would probably watch Joaquin Phoenix reading the phone book out loud.

    4. So God does things in a inefficient, roundabout way? Sounds like the “horrific theology’ that everyone knows and loves (and I only tolerate) to me. And there was no “plot twist”, that’s an expectation from 
      Shyamalan’s other movies.

      1. “Signs” idea that everything happens for a perceptible reason is contradicted by the Bible and the Book of Job.  First God tells Job that Job’s misfortune is beyond human understanding. Then Job’s dickweed neighbors try to assign some sort of causality to Job’s suffering, and God himself shows up to rebuke them.  

    5. The scene where TV footage of the aliens is first shown, I thought for sure the twist was going to be that they were actually humans in green bodysuits.

  4. Joss Whedon’s confidante? Hope she didn’t have anything to do with “Cows in Space”(firefly). After all,  “Pigs in Space” kicks its $$$.

  5. Do Firefly fans realize that The Alliance is the Tea Party and the crew of Serenity are all liberals, since they practice socialism?

    1. Yes. It was intended that way. The words to the theme song scan properly with “Internationale”.

  6. “The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and let’s leave it there”

    I would have left it at Unbreakable.  At any rate I left M. Night Shyamalan movies altogether after sitting through Signs.

    1. I gave him another chance.  After the truly awful Signs I was willing to believe that maybe it was a fluke, since the trailer for The Village made it look like it was gonna be so good…

      He received no third chance, and by all accounts I’ve heard, deserved none either.

    2. I like a lot of movies that I know aren’t for everybody but when I watch Signs I find it hard to believe that most people aren’t enjoying it. It’s so perfectly paced and balances frightening and funny so well. 
      At the very least it made baby monitors scary as hell.

      1. It’s not that the guy can’t direct, though everything he shoots is straight out of a Hitchcock call sheet.  And it’s not that he can’t write good scenes or dialogue.  It’s that he suffers from a double-whammy of a curse: he’s way too willing to throw all logic by the wayside in order to achieve some dubiously all-important plot point (no matter what havoc that wreaks on his audience’s suspension of disbelief), and he simply cannot understand why so many people fail to acknowledge him as the greatest storyteller of his generation… like it’s our fault the studios don’t blindly trust him to do whatever he wants with their budget.

        Signs is quite enjoyable, sez I, for its first hour or so.  But by the time he reveals how the Lord’s Mysterious Ways give the family clues to fight off the hydrophobic aliens who had the uncommon good sense to invade a planet with so much liquid water carelessly lying around…

        Note to my eyeballs: please stop rolling, you’re making it difficult to type.

    3. Plus “The Sixth Sense” was obvious to anyone who’d seen the b&w classic “Carnival Of Souls.”

  7. Spuffy is not why Season 6 of Buffy sucked. Season 6 of Buffy sucked because none of the characters’ motivations made any sense within who the characters where. Season 6 of Buffy sucked because of the really stupid drug analogy. Season 6 of Buffy sucked because of Darth Rosenberg (and because killing Tara was stupidly arbitrary and only served the plot if Darth Rosenberg was inevitable (which is not firmly established)). Season 6 of Buffy sucked because of Doublemeat Palace and Hells Belles. All of these things Marti Noxon was in charge of. Therefore, Marti Noxon ruined Buffy. 

    So, take the most overrated, self-important writer of exceedingly predictable plots, with the showrunner who destroyed instead of rescuing my favorite tv show ever, and yeah, I have confidence that this show will be nothing but fail. 

    1. There was a lot wrong with Season 6 (but not as much as with Season 7), but what was wrong with Doublemeat Palace? It was actually reminiscent of early Buffy that actually tried to have a message beyond the monsters — although, yes, fast food and the horrible McJobs associated with it are maybe not the hardest of targets.

    2. “only served the plot if Darth Rosenberg was inevitable (which is not firmly established)”

      huh? are you saying that a plot device is only valid if the characters involved cannot conceivably react in any other way than what happens?

  8. Looking forward to this bunches.

    Am not a big fan of Buffy Season 6. My quibbles are not with plot choices (with the exception of the Popeye-forearm-sized hamfistedness of the Willow magic=drugs ‘metaphor’), but with the execution. Without Joss’ polish and guidance, each episode lacked a lot of the tight dialog, tight intermingling of plot and theme, and several other small and important flourishes that had been present in the seasons before. Both Buffy and Angel lost a brilliant Script Doctor that season Joss focused his energy on Firefly and it’s painfully obvious any time I watch those episodes that those he appointed were not at his level.

    But that was then. Ms Noxon’s got a lot more scripts and shows under her belt and I thought the Fright Night remake was a delight. If she continues to fire on whatever number of cylinders it took her to produce Fright Night, I expect I’ll be quite happy with Proof.

    Assuming, of course, that she can overcome the deficiencies in whatever M. Night hands her.  Maybe she can even inspire – or teach – him to stop sucking. He used to know how not to do that.

  9. Proof…I think you mean “Poof”.

    Cause I can’t imagine this lasting past one season.

    I’m still bitter there was never a season 5 of Farscape.  Damn you Sci-Fi.

  10. All this Buffy season 6 hate… yeah, well, that’s just, like *your opinion* man.  I loved season 6 of Buffy, I thought it was powerful and challenging stuff.  I loved Darth Rosenberg, I loved Buffy and Spike and I thought it was a great follow up to Season 5.  The Nox rocks.

  11. Don’t forget MKS’ original crime against humanity – the script for the movie version “Stuart Little” which is a classic of English literature. Maybe MKS doesn’t understand his script was like the Taliban blowing up Buddha statues.  Maybe if someone made a 2 hour movie of Klansmen wiping their butts with pages of the Bhagavad Gita he’d understand that.

  12. Congress needs to hurry up and pass legislation banning M. Night Shamalayan from being involved  in any future filmmaking.

    This is an issue both parties can agree on. Get it done, folks!

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