No one asked for it, but Netflix has quietly been working towards the release of Ratched, a prequel to the stone-cold classic, Jack Nicholson-starring drama, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Sarah Paulson steps into the shoes of Nurse Ratched, once occupied by Louise Fletcher (and Ingrid Torrance during her strange appearance in Once Upon A Time), while the relatively unknown Evan Romansky is the series’ creator.
Nurse Ratched was always an embodiment of pure, relentless evil, but One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest never entered the realm of true horror- Ratched will.
The trailer has already demonstrated a change of tone that seems more in line with American Horror Story (Ryan Murphy is one of the show’s executive producers after all) than the source material.
But will Ratched be a standalone journey into teen-friendly horror, or a continuation of the legacy of one of the greatest films of all time?
We’ve come up with six things that fans of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest will be on the lookout for.
We Don’t Want Illogical Character Cameos
If there is one problem that always crops up in prequels and sequels, it’s the desire to force characters we’re familiar with into situations that make no sense.
That’s not to say that I wouldn’t wet myself if Randle McMurphy suddenly showed up in Ratched, but part of me would hate it all the same.
We’ve gotten used to the idea of C-3PO being built by Anakin in the Star Wars prequels, but when you really think about it, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: Vader didn’t know him in the original films, so there is no reason for him to have known him in the prequels.
As far as we know, Nurse Ratched didn’t know any of her patients before working at the mental institution, and it should really stay that was if we want to take the show seriously.
But We Might Want Original Actor Cameos
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was released in 1975, so it’s safe to say that the majority of the cast look pretty different (or very different, if you know what I mean […they’re dead]) by 2020.
However, a cameo from an actor from the film could be the perfect way to induce a bit of extra nostalgia.
Obviously, I’m not expecting Jack Nicholson to show up.
In fact, I’d bet my life that he has absolutely no idea that the show even exists, and wouldn’t care in the slightest even if he did.
However, Brad Dourif seems to have been in just about everything ever made, so an appearance from him doesn’t seem out of the question.
Then you’ve got the uber-fame of Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd, who have both seemed to enjoy the occasional one-off TV appearance in their later careers.
Louise Fletcher’s career might have peaked with One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but she is still semi-active despite approaching her ninetieth birthday… you never know.
Character Development Is A Must
It seems that spin-off shows/films constantly abandon character development due to an overconfidence in their characters.
Remember the Friends spin-off, Joey? Of course you don’t. You do remember, Better Call Saul, though, right?
There’s a reason for that: character development.
The team behind Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are so focused on detail, quality and characterisation, that we were able to learn about those we already knew, while being introduced to new faces.
In Ratched, we can’t allow Sarah Paulson to become an emulation of the 1975 character- she has to get there.
The whole point of a sequel is to show us what a character was like before we knew them, right? So why would we be interested in watching Nurse Ratched become… the same?
But We Need Nurse Ratched To Be Nurse Ratched
While we need Ratched to focus on character development, we also can’t be presented with a version of Nurse Ratched that we don’t recognise.
From the trailer, it seems that Nurse Ratched herself was always threateningly soft-spoken and presented herself with a kindly malice.
At the same time, she seems more confident in dealing with intentional humour.
This didn’t really come up in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest; maybe she loses her lighter side over the course of the show?
However, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest showed us that she was more of a subtle, Shipman-esque killer, not an all-guns-blazing Jack The Ripper.
From the trailer, it seems that Ratched might be gearing a little too much toward a violence we’d never seen in the titular nurse before. Time will only tell if it works.
Let The Show Occupy Its Own Space
When Ratched was first announced, I was both excited, confused and reluctant.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is one of my favourite films of all time, and while I’m a sucker for revisiting a beloved character from the past, it seemed a little unnecessary to go back to that particular story.
Then I found out that it wasn’t going to be an emotional comedy-drama, but a psychological horror, and I was excited again.
Placing one of the most hateable characters of all time into the title role of a horror series could be a stroke of pure genius, if done right.
By not overlapping with the events or tone of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, we can separate Ratched into something almost completely different.
Maybe if the show doesn’t really work as a prequel, it’ll be able to be enjoyed as a standalone horror series?
But Don’t Lose The Charm Of The Original
Despite the fact that Ratched taking a beloved character down a different path is probably going to be a great way to bring in a range of viewers, fans of the character in its original form will still be looking for some semblance of relatability.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest dealt with some deep, dark subjects, but at its core, there was comedy and phenomenal characters.
We’re hoping that Ratched doesn’t try to replace incredible characterisation and well-placed comedy with overdone suspense and horror.
At the same time, will a murderous Ratched mean that death becomes common and normal, and not impactful and heart-breaking like it was in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest?
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