1. Keep it bloody.
Shows like True Blood and Hannibal have pushed the boundaries of violence on TV, and that bodes well for how far Scream will take it. The show shouldn’t be all gore all the time, but it is going to have to get a little messy if it wants to stay true to the spirit of the original. What would a slasher series be if not for the occasional blood splatter? Don’t worry — as Billy Loomis reminds us, it’s really just corn syrup and food coloring.
2. Update the rules for TV.
What are the scary TV show rules, and how do they differ from the scary movie rules? This is new terrain, so it’s a little harder to reference established tropes, but MTV’s Scream can still be pretty meta. Play around with the constraints of television (it’ll take a lot longer to find out who the killer is, for one thing), or acknowledge a lackluster history of horror on TV. However it’s done, Scream needs to stay somewhat self-referential. Them’s the rules.
3. Maintain the emphasis on strong female characters.
The slasher film is criticized (by Sidney herself at one point) as being all about dumb girls getting stabbed. But Scream took the model of the Final Girl and amped it up, giving us two relentlessly badass leading ladies who both survive all the way till the end. Let’s hope the series can create a character as memorable as Sidney or Gale. And yes, as lovable as Dewey and Randy, though that will be a more difficult feat to accomplish.
4. Lure the original cast back in some capacity.
No, not as regulars. Face it — there’s no way Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, or David Arquette are joining up as full-time cast members. But the occasional guest appearance would add some much needed legitimacy for diehard Scream fans. And hey, if any of the original actors do want to sign on for a weekly series, more power to them. MTV may be into promoting what’s fresh, but that doesn’t mean it should shy away from vintage.
5. Bring in stars to kill.
Drew Barrymore may have been featured prominently in the Scream poster, but she didn’t last long in the movie. And that was the point: like Janet Leigh in Psycho, Barrymore was a big name whose early death was a major shock. If the Scream TV show wants to keep the tradition alive, it’s going to have to be willing to bring in notables and ditch them just as easily. Risky? Sure. But the high stakes would have viewers tuning in weekly.
6. Plan ahead and leave clues for the audience.
Years-old spoilers here — consider yourselves warned. Scream 2 is a lot of fun, but was there really any sense to the big reveal of Mrs. Loomis? A great mystery will shock the audience but also have them nodding their heads. This is especially important for television, where it all gets dragged out over a season. One of Veronica Mars’ few Season 1 faults was making Aaron Echolls the killer without any real clues. Have the Scream writers plot this all out in advance to avoid a weak ending.
7. Remember to have fun.
This is Scream after all. The humor is essential. MTV has proven itself able to blend comedy and drama, and that’s the tone Scream should be aiming for. (Think Awkward with a much higher body count.) It’s not only about laughs, but also a keen sense of irony and the ability to not take itself too seriously. Anything else won’t feel like the Scream series, which has always balanced being scary with being fun to watch.