TV SHOWS I'D LIKE TO SEE INSPIRED BY GREAT LITERATURE
We're in the midst of a Golden Age for TV. Inspired by Tom Hardy's grim, gritty, feverish series TABOO, here are my votes for some potentially badass TV serials inspired by classic literature. (Yes, I know TABOO isn't based on a literary source, but it has all the complexity and richness of a great epic novel, so it's my touchstone.)
- •BLOOD MERIDIAN - Cormac McCarthy's punishing anti-western--often deemed too bleak and bloody for screen adaptation--would make a pretty fierce miniseries for HBO or Netflix. Guaranteed Emmy for whoever plays the demonic Judge Holden.
- •GONE WITH THE WIND - Hear me out. The book is often maligned as dismissive of the true, cruel legacy of slavery. Fine--expand on it. Adapt the book, with Scarlett and Rhett as the people they always were, then bring all the supporting characters forward, to allow GwtW to basically have a conversation with itself about racism, slavery, and America.
- •XENOGENESIS - Complex, demanding and emotional, Octavia Butler's lauded sci fi trilogy about an alien race attempting to interbreed with humans to repopulate a post-apocalyptic Earth is chock full of indelible characters, rich psychological drama, and enough big ideas about sexual politics and evolution to choke the proverbial horse.
- •Anything by Robert E. Howard - Seriously, take your pick: Conan, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, Kull of Atlantis--any of REH's brooding, two-fisted pulp adventure characters could support an awesome TV serial. The success of epic fantasy like GAME OF THRONES and historical auctioneers like BLACK SAILS proves you can do it, SO DO IT!
- •GRAVEDIGGER JONES & COFFIN JOHNSON - Chester Himes's pair of tough guy Afro-American cops having weekly adventures on the streets of a noir-tinged 1950s Harlem would be badass in the extreme. That special Himesian blend of the grotesque and the absurd is ripe for TV. And just imagine the awesome soundtracks!
- •HEMINGWAY - Why not take one of literature's most controversial figures and make him the anti-hero of his own prestige drama series? Exotic settings, great supporting characters, drama both emotional and visceral, and at its center, a brilliant, cruel, confused, self-destructive personality of Shakespearean proportions.
- •THE ROMANTICS - And I'll end with another prestige drama: the ongoing story of the lives of Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley, and their coterie of young, randy, disaffected artiste acquaintances. There'd be lots of opium smoking and bodice ripping, alongside ruminations on politics, art and religion. A Regency-era soap with a touch of the gothic.