“Special Bulletin” – A Special TV Movie that Needs a Remake

As well as re-watching Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis (as I discussed in “Anyway we delivered the bomb” – Telling the Story of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis), I have also re-watched another TV movie, “Special Bulletin” recently. I have already done one post about “Special Bulletin“, so won’t go back over old ground here. Rather, this post is to flag up more just what a great film it is and why a re-make is needed.

I first watched “Special Bulletin” back in the 1980s when it was first shown on TV and have watched more recently as part of my study, “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?

I still remember watching it on TV that first time. Yes, the film is not without its faults (even the biggest budget movies can have these) and there is no shortage of TV movies which are just not as good as films for the cinema. But “Special Bulletin” is perfect for TV. I actually cannot imagine it working in the cinema. You need to watch it as you would watch the news. Perhaps there’s an argument that a re-make should be done so that it’s for watching on mobile devices, but that may be a step too far.

I’m sure some of the impact of the original viewing was lost on me. After all, as a US production, none of the newscasters meant anything to me. They were not the reporters I saw on TV every day. I would love to see a re-make using TV reporters that I would normally see (in much the some way that “Threads” was great due to including actual BBC reporters).

The quality of many TV movies and series has come on so much in the past few decades. There have been many great programmes that I have watched and even for my study on disaster narratives, there were some wonderfully put together TV films (e.g. “Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232 (aka A Thousand Heroes)“, “Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac“, “Flight 93“, “The Day After“, “Threads“, “Climber’s High (2005)“, and “One-no-Kanata-ni“). A modern version of “Special Bulletin” could be amazing.

“Special Bulletin” shows its age now (if you can manage to find a copy) – not only due to the quality of the picture, but also the storyline.

With tensions in Ukraine and a possible return to a cold war set-up, a terrorist nuclear boat being parked in London, for example, could easily work as an alternative, but somewhat similar to the original, plot line. Alternatively, and perhaps even better, would be a North Korean boat in Tokyo bay holding the Japanese government to ransom. To some degree, there were elements of this idea within my novel “Hijacking Japan“.

On the subject of re-makes, not all programmes – even great ones – need re-makes. There are reasons why “Special Bulletin” deserves/needs a remake. I often read/hear people talking about a re-make of my favourite movie, “Jaws“. But, as was pointed out at the Q&A after a special screening of “Jaws” in January 2022 in London, why would someone do this? Why is it discussed? “Casablanca” and “Gone with the Wind” have not been remade (those were the examples used – I could think of many other movies which would make equally or better examples).

Unlike when I re-watched two movies related to the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, when I expected to change my ratings on IMDb but didn’t, after re-watching “Special Bulletin” I felt that it deserved a higher score than I had given it. So I have now given it a 9 and so it also now appears on my list of top movies and TV shows.

As I have written about before, now more than for many years, we need to remind people of the power of nuclear weapons. It is time that a remake of “Special Bulletin” was made as people are sleep walking into forgetting the power of nuclear weapons and that makes them more dangerous than ever before. Come on BBC/Amazon/Netflix, please re-make “Special Bulletin”.

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