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‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ remake highlights overstuffed TV lineup of Halloween programming

From left, Suzy Nakamura, Tisha Campbell Martin and Ken Jeong in the “D.K.'s Korean Ghost Story” episode of Dr. Ken, airing Friday night on ABC (WFAA/Channel 8)
From left, Suzy Nakamura, Tisha Campbell Martin and Ken Jeong in the “D.K.'s Korean Ghost Story” episode of Dr. Ken, airing Friday night on ABC (WFAA/Channel 8) ABC

Many of us have already experienced the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

But TV executives at Fox thought it made sense to do another jump to the left, step to the right and pelvic thrust that drives you insa-yay-yay-yay-yane.

Now everyone join in as we sing, “Let’s do the time warp again!”

A loving homage to the 1975 rock ’n’ roll musical, a kinky/kooky midnight-movie fan favorite, premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday. It’s the perfect TV tuneup for Halloween.

Whether this new version — which stars Laverne Cox, Victoria Justice and Ryan McCartan — will achieve the same cult status is up to fans to decide. But it’s worth noting that this one follows the original’s script and score note for note, differing only in the casting, costumes and choreography.

“It’s very true to the spirit of Rocky Horror, but it’s a little more elaborate,” says Cox, one of the stars of Orange Is the New Black. “When we say we are re-imagining it, we are taking it to the next level.

“We are not just ‘dreaming it’ (to reference Cox’s favorite song from the score, Don’t Dream It). We are ‘being it’ in a way that they probably couldn’t do 40 years ago.”

In the original Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tim Curry made a lasting impression as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a bed-hopping transvestite and scientist who was busy “making a man with blond hair and a tan.”

When a repressed young couple, Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon), had car trouble on a rainy night, they knocked on the mad doctor’s door and he rocked their world.

Now, in 2016, Cox notes that, “A black transgender woman — that’s me — is playing this part most often played (in the stage version) by people who identify as male and who are often white.”

That change alone reinvents the movie in a multitude of ways.

The Janet and Brad roles, meanwhile, have gone to a couple of former kid-show stars. Justice was a viewer favorite on Nickelodeon in Zoey 101 and Victorious. McCartan made a name for himself on Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie.

The rest of the cast includes some gifted musical artists: former American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert (as Eddie, a biker delivery boy), Reeve Carney (Riff Raff, the creepy handyman), Christina Milian (Magneta, a domestic), Ivy Levan (a scene-stealing Usherette, a role that didn’t exist in the original but makes complete sense here) and legendary entertainer Ben Vereen (Dr. Scott).

Curry, by the way, has returned to serve as the Criminologist Narrator.

Cox was a freshman at Indiana University and not yet identifying herself as female when classmates introduced her to the weirdly wonderful Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“I saw this movie and, in this character called Dr. Frank-N-Furter, I saw myself,” Cox says. “It was so unbelievably transformative for me to be more myself. I immediately got the soundtrack, learned all the songs, kept watching the film over and over again and became obsessed.

“So when I was approached about playing the part of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, I was like, ‘Is this real?’ I was in disbelief. This movie has meant so much to me. It’s a dream come true.”

Another aspect that is different about the remake is that a movie theater audience has been added. They’re watching the same movie we’re watching — thus paying homage to the audience participation that made the midnight movie screenings such a sensation.

Fittingly, the new movie is directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega, whose High School Musical in 2006 had kids singing and dancing in their living rooms along with the characters on their TVs.

Whether this happens with the new movie remains to be seen. But it would be interesting one day if somebody showed the two movies back to back, as a late-night double-feature picture show.

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

  • 7 p.m. Thursday
  • KDFW/Channel 4

TV tricks and treats

October’s terrifyingly long list of new Halloween-themed TV series episodes, movies and specials includes these highlights:

Last Man Standing (7 p.m. Friday, ABC): When the Baxters dress as fellow family members and impersonate them at the annual Halloween costume party, hurt feelings and bickering soon ruin things.

Dr. Ken (7:30 p.m. Friday, ABC): Little Dave doesn’t seem to be scared at Halloween anymore, until D.K. tells a terrifying Korean gwisin (ghost) story.

The Good Witch (8 p.m. Saturday, Hallmark Channel): In this two-hour special, Cassie helps a popular fantasy author and her editor with the Halloween-themed launch of their new spooky book.

Bob’s Burgers (6:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox): Tina sets out to snag first place in the annual costume contest, while Bob is on a mission to catch who is stealing his perfectly crafted pumpkins.

The Middle (7 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): As Halloween approaches, Sue does everything in her power to get her bedroom back from Brick.

American Housewife (7:30 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): Katie reluctantly competes in the Westport Halloween Zombie Run, while her kids get a little too much in the spirit of the event.

Fresh Off the Boat (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): Louis tries to scare Jessica into the Halloween spirit, while Eddie and his crew are excited to party with high school kids.

The Real O’Neals (8:30 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): Jimmy and Shannon plan to pull off an epic Halloween prank, while Kenny is allowed to host his own blowout party.

The Goldbergs (7 p.m. Wednesday, ABC): Adam, a die-hard Stephen King fan, writes his own horror story, basing the monster on his mom; meanwhile, Erica needs a date to the costume dance.

Ghost Brothers (7 p.m. Wednesday, Destination America): TV’s first African-American ghost hunting team is showcased in three Season 1 episodes that have been “tricked out” with extras.

Speechless (7:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC): Jimmy is upset when the kids no longer want to continue the family tradition of dressing up for Halloween.

Modern Family (8 p.m. Wednesday, ABC): Luke’s monster bash isn’t the smash he hoped it would be, while Cam faces off with his Halloween nemesis.

Black-ish (8:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC): After Junior embarrasses his dad during a basketball game, Dre decides to show him who’s the master of the Halloween prank.

Code Black (9 p.m. Wednesday, CBS): On Halloween, Willis, Noa and Elliott rush to the scene of a fire at a haunted theater where Dr. Nolan and her boyfriend’s son are trapped.

Cutthroat Kitchen: Tournament of Terror (9 p.m. Wednesday, Food Network): The season finale of the Halloween-themed cooking competition has finalists working on a possessed spinning bed.

The Living and the Dead (8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, BBC America): The premiere of a new series in which a couple with modern ideas encounter supernatural happenings in a creepy 1890s village.

The Night Before Halloween (8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, Syfy): In this movie original, a Halloween prank goes haywire, unleashing a creature that will hunt and kill each of the perpetrators.

Halloween Wars (8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, Food Network): The two teams vying for $50,000 must create the scariest demonic wedding in the season finale of the Halloween-themed cooking competition.

Paranormal Lockdown (8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, Destination America): In this two-hour special, the team investigates Black Monk House in Yorkshire, England. It is famous for violent poltergeist activity.

Lucifer (8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, Fox): While Lucifer and Chloe clash during an investigation, Maze takes Trixie out for a night of trick-or-treating.

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