Blue Hours Productions Bringing Black & White Horror Programming Back to TV

By The Woman In Black

April 19th, 2011

You may remember from back in November, 2009 an anthology series called As Darkness Falls created by John Alsedek. It has been picked up for distribution by publisher Speaking Volumes, but that's just the beginning. Now Alsedek is taking aim at the TV market with three different series currently being pitched, all of which would be filmed in high contrast black & white.

From the Press Release:
During the ‘Golden Age of Television’, fans of the horror, sci-fi & fantasy genres were treated to a cavalcade of programs that would go on to become legends. "The Twilight Zone", "The Outer Limits", and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", as well as lesser-known shows such as Boris Karloff’s "Thriller" (named by Stephen King as “the best horror series ever on TV”), left millions of viewers in utter awe on a weekly basis…and a great deal of the reason for that was because the programs were filmed in black & white.

Eerie, evocative, subtle & shadowy in a way that color TV has never been able to match, it resulted in some of the most striking images in television history. But as technology improved and color programs became more & more common, the use of black & white became passé. By 1966 all three major networks had switched to full-color schedules. When the final episode of the classic sitcom "The Munsters" ran on May 12th, 1966, it effectively signaled the end of black & white programming on television.

However, one fledgling production company is doing its best to change that.

Based in Los Angeles, BLUE HOURS PRODUCTIONS began in January 2010 as a partnership between two friends, actress/singer Dana Hayes and writer/filmmaker John Alsedek. With little more than a borrowed camera and a shared love of vintage TV & film, they set out with the goal of developing projects with a distinctly retro feel.

Now, 15 months later, they’re well on the way, thanks to the talented, eclectic core of creative associates they’ve assembled in in the interim. “This is the most amazing group I’ve ever had the privilege of working with”, says Hayes. “Actors, musicians, artists, technical folks - if we have a particular need, we never have to look very far!” The primary catalyst for that coalescence was the first Blue Hours project: AS DARKNESS FALLS, a horror anthology radio show in the vein of such greats as "Lights Out!" and "CBS Radio Mystery Theatre".

Hosted by Tucker Smallwood ("Enterprise", "Space: Above & Beyond"), AS DARKNESS FALLS was quickly picked up by audiobooks publisher Speaking Volumes for release both as recordings and in radio syndication; the first dozen episodes are currently in production. However, an unexpected byproduct was that it put Hayes & Alsedek in contact with people who liked their plans and wanted to be a part of them. That group now includes Tucker Smallwood; Adrienne Wilkinson, best known to genre fans as Xena’s daughter Livia on "Xena: Warrior Princess"; Bernard Yin, guitarist/theremin player for indie faves The Fuzztones and Astra Heights; prolific voice actor Daamen Krall, who also played Dr. Caligari in the award-winning re-imagining of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; Michael Kramer, a seasoned producer/drummer who owns Wolftone Studios; up-and-coming actress Netahly Leddel, a versatile performer who also sings, dances, & does standup comedy; and Ryan Hedgecock, founder of trailblazing bands Lone Justice and Rattlesnake Daddy & Swamp Magic.

Now Blue Hours Productions is taking aim at the television market with three different series currently being pitched - all of which would be filmed in high contrast black & white. The reasons for that, says Alsedek, are twofold. “First of all, if you see something in greyscale, it immediately sets the scene - you expect something from another era, so it makes suspension of disbelief much easier. But even more importantly, it’s the subtlety of black & white. Take a look at some of the amazing cinematography on a show like 'Thriller' - the play of light & dark, the way the shadows deepen & extend... Trying to replicate that in full color just doesn’t work. And for the projects we have in mind, mood is crucial.”

The three programs currently being pitched are:

- "9 LIVES", a weekly hour-long show set in the late 1950s and steeped in the works of horror legend H.P. Lovecraft. "9 LIVES" concerns the exploits of Kitty Devine, a striptease artist/cat burglar who purloins the wrong gem at the wrong time and thereby ends up with the fate of humanity in her hands. For she is the only one who can stop the return of the interstellar monstrosity known as Cthulhu… Sleek, stylish, a bit campy, and at times bloodcurdlingly horrifying, "9 LIVES" was originally intended to be live-action; however, there’s now some interest in doing it as an animated series, which opens up all-new possibilities, according to Alsedek. “With our plans to incorporate so many monsters from the Cthulhu mythos into the show, the idea of doing it as an animated show makes a lot of sense. Plus our lead actress, Adrienne Wilkinson, is already a veteran of animation & video game work.”

- Then there’s "MYSTERIES MOST MACABRE, INC." Like a mixture of The Thin Man, "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" and Cary Grant comedies, "MYSTERIES MOST MACABRE, INC." concerns the exploits of a husband & wife detective team. Blake Ashton is an eccentric cracker millionaire and amateur sleuth; his wife, Beatrice, is an experienced, tough-talking gumshoe. Between them, they comprise ‘Mysteries Most Macabre, Inc.’, a private investigation firm that specializes in cases of the supernatural kind. As noted in the show’s promotional material, "Each episode packs an hour’s worth of thrills, chills, action, suspense, and romance into five minutes." The show is seen as an ideal fit for channels that specialize in classic movies due to its short length and subject matter.

- And last, but not least, there’s the newest Blue Hours creation, "WINKY STARFISH: AGENT OF I.I.I.I.I.", a James Bond spoof unlike any other. One-eyed, foot-tall Winky Starfish is a children’s show host & shameless corporate shill; however, he’s also an intergalactic secret agent charged with safeguarding Earth from alien invaders, rampaging robots, mad scientists, the walking dead, and myriad other threats. Possessed of a prodigious intellect and an utter lack of diplomacy, Winky is aided by sultry human attaché, Ivana Douette (played by the Israeli-born Netahly Leddel), who definitely has more than a platonic relationship in mind for our hero… A deliberately low-tech show in a CGI world, WINKY STARFISH: AGENT OF I.I.I.I.I. is geared towards networks with an interest in adult humor.

All three series are now under consideration at nationally-broadcast television networks. So it may not be that much longer before viewers find themselves checking their plasma screens and DVR connections to see where the color went...

It all sounds like just too much fun to us! Keep it here for more news from Blue Hours Productions as it comes. In the meantime be sure to visit the official Blue Hours Productions website and "like" Blue Hours Productions on Facebook.