At HalfGuarded, we never really set out to break earth-shattering news. But this time around, we’ve got the scoop on a world exclusive: the relaunch of Family Matters as an all-new Netflix original series!
Passed along to us by an inside source, we have official confirmation that the beloved 1990s sitcom, centered on the exploits of uber-nerd/teenage genius Steve Urkel and the many, many ways he makes life miserable for the Winslow family, is the next long-cancelled TV series to receive the reboot treatment on the streaming video service.
Really, just presenting that info before anybody else would be big enough on its own. But even better, we actually got our hands on the preliminary script for the very first episode!
Family Matters on Netflix Plot
It’s unknown whether or not the pilot is going to be the linchpin of the series, but if it is, woo boy, we are in for a shocker. Believe it or not, the screenplay for the reboot was penned by, of all people, Steven S. DeKnight – as in, the same guy who wrote all those Spartacus shows on Starz. And – get ready for this, folks – his script turns Family Matters completely on its head; no longer a family comedy, the new series, tentatively titled Family Mattered, is actually a grim and gritty revenge thriller!
Lots of viewers recall Family Matters for its light-hearted tone. Well, that’s all gone in Family Mattered, which eschews the comedy for dark and angsty drama – judging from the script, it’s definitely more in line with How to Get Away with Murder than Fuller House.
Family Mattered, the pilot screenplay, anyway, largely focuses on Carl Winslow. At the beginning of the first episode, Carl has been retired from the police force for about five years. He’s introduced sitting in a very, very familiar looking two-story house in Chicago, but, it’s eerily silent and almost cavernously dark. Carl is sitting in the kitchen, pouring back shot after shot of wild turkey. “It’s a rare condition in this day and age to read any good news on the newspaper page,” his first line goes. He places a gun in his mouth and threatens to squeeze the trigger. Right before he takes his own life, he looks up at an old, shattered photograph of the Winslow family. The image, we are told, is a cast photograph from circa 1993. “There must be some magic clue,” Carl weeps, “inside these gentle walls.”
Over the next few minutes, we’re filled in on the tragic events since the show went off the air. Harriet died of cancer ten years earlier, and little Richie got gunned down in a drive-by. His eldest son Eddie is in prison for life for the apparent murder of his sister, Laura. According to the narrator, her body was found hacked to bits, with Eddie quivering in the corner, high on PCP holding a bloody butcher knife. The episode was especially hard on her fiancé and Carl’s soon-to-be son-in-law, Steve, who abandoned his dreams of being a top inventor to join Chicago’s police force to find Laura’s real killer.
Of course, the episode jumps to Steve, who is introduced roughing up a drug dealer. At one point, he even drops his trademark line “did I do that?” after bashing the perp’s skull against a cement wall. To this day, he is convinced of Eddie’s innocence, and believes Laura’s murder may have had something to do with a botched hit on himself. There is a lengthy scene where Steve goes to visit Carl. It’s a big deal, because it is the first time Steve has visited the old Winslow abode since his fiancée died. He asks Carl if it is OK to look around for clues. They get into a physical altercation, which in the script, goes on for five of the pilot’s 25 pages. Bruised, beaten and bloodied, Carl finally agrees to let Steve rummage through Laura and Eddie’s old belongings. The two look at old mementoes and reflect on some of their wacky adventures and laugh. Steve gets a text from his captain. It’s an artist’s rendering of a man known as “The Chicago Slasher,” who on and off again since the late 1990s, has embarked upon seemingly random slayings. Both Carl and Steve think the caricature looks familiar. “I’m telling you big man … I think this guy, whoever he is, has something to do with Laura,” Steve says. Carl, obviously not wanting to dwell on the subject, tells Steve to drop it. There’s some more exposition on how Eddie could’ve possibly been framed for the crime. Carl says that’s ridiculous, and he almost comes to blows again with Steve, until Steve unearths something from the pile of old belongings. It’s a hastily penned letter from Eddie to his best pal Waldo Faldo, in which the eldest Winslow child expressed deep, deep concern about his friend’s behavior, questioning where he’s getting so much money out of the blue and why he was covered in blood and asking him to hold weird looking knives for him. That’s when Steve, in absolute shock, pushes an old photo of Waldo next to the artist’s rendering on his phone. “My god,” Carl screams. “Waldo is the Chicago Slasher!”
Later on, there’s more exposition. Eventually, Carl and Steve decide to visit Eddie at the federal pen. Initially reluctant to speak, he finally breaks his silence: he said he found out Waldo had joined a sinister, underground cult specializing in human trafficking, and he was trying to abduct Laura! We get a long flashback scene, in which Eddie walks in on Waldo brutally stabbing his sister. With almost superhuman strength, Waldo knocks out Eddie with one blow. He plants the weapon on his unconscious body and injects him with a fat dose of angel dust. He picks up the house phone and – speaking in a voice eerily similar to Eddie’s – confesses to the slaying. With tears in his eyes, Carl asks Eddie why he never said that during the trial and he says because nobody would believe him. There is a scene afterwards showing a graphic murder in a subterranean lair, in which a figure that may or may not be Waldo performs a ritualistic sacrifice. The episode concludes with Carl and Steve in the basement of the old Winslow house, staring at something. “What we’re up against can’t be explained,” Carl says. “I know, big guy,” Steve replies, “but you and I both know that desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m ready if you are.” And, right before the credits, the camera zooms around to show the viewers exactly what they were gawping at – a long-unused, cobwebbed-draped transformation chamber.
Surely, Family Mattered is a HUGE deviation from the norm, but it’s a gamble that very well could pay off. From what I read, they are playing the whole thing straight as an arrow, which to the best of my knowledge, is the first time a TV series has ever been hard reset as not only an entirely different genre, but with the exact opposite tone of its inspiration. Alas, we’ll reserve judgement until Family Mattered – tentative set to debut April 1, 2017 – makes that big leap from the page to production. And, as always, we here at HalfGuarded will keep you adrift of all the latest news on what could be the most controversial TV reboot ever – hard-hitting entertainment news, after all, is something we never, ever joke about.