Seminal pulp hero Doc Savage could be heading to television for weekly adventures.
Deadline is reporting that producer Neal Moritz’s Original Film production company is teaming up with Conde Nast Publications, the owners of the Doc Savage pulp series, to develop a television series starring the popular pulp character.
Doc Savage was the headlining hero of the eponymously named pulp adventure magazine series of the 1930s and ’40s. Raised to be a perfect physical and mental specimen, Doc and his five friends – all experts at the top of their own scientific fields – travelled the globe searching out adventure in undiscovered lands, fighting weird supervillains and solving strange mysteries. The series ran for 181 issues, almost all of which were written by pulp dynamo Lester Dent under publisher Street & Smith’s house nom de plume Kenneth Robeson. The novels were reprinted from the 1960s through the early 1990s by Bantam Books. In 2006, Sanctum Books started a reprint series of the pulp stories with the original illustrations and new material such as essays on the creators and the background of the series.
This new Doc Savage series appears to be spinning out of the most recent attempt to bring Doc and his Fabulous Five to the big screen. Producer Neal Moritz had teamed up with writer/director Shane Black who had developed a screenplay for a big screen Doc Savage adventure and had Dwayne Johnson signed on to play the lead.
According to Deadline –
While trying to get the feature off the ground, Moritz began contemplating a small-screen adaptation. He felt like, with hundreds of characters and myriad stories featured in the books, the Doc Savage IP would be better suited as a TV series where there is more time to explore the characters.
Moritz’s Original Films production shingle has already had success in adapting such comic book properties as The Boys, Preacher and Happy! to television.
No talent has been reported to be attached to the project.
Previously, producer George Pal brought Doc to the big screen in 1975 with the film Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze. While Pal did a great job in casting Doc – former Tarzan Ron Ely – and his aides, the tone of the project was a bit too campy for audiences and it died a quick death at the box office. Doc has also appeared in a number of comic book series from various publishers over the years, as well as 13-part radio series from in NPR in 1985.
As a longtime Doc fan, I have to admit that the possibility of a Doc Savage television series excites me more than a big screen franchise-launching movie in some ways. For one, it would mean more than just two hours of a Doc adventure every couple of years. A weekly does of globe-trotting adventure certainly sounds appealing. And maybe if they take a cue from the old Saturday afternoon matinee adventure serials of the 1930s and 40s, the show could end with a death-defying cliffhanger every week, urging us to tune in again next time to see how Doc and his crew will escape!
But a 21st century Doc Savage adaptation has a couple of obstacles it will need to surmount. The first is the character himself. Doc is an earnest, innately good person, and his character could very well be seen as a Boy Scout-type, similar to Superman. And that earnestness may be hard for audiences in this more cynical time to accept. It is something that the many creative people who have worked on the character of Superman in comics and for film and television have struggled with over the last couple of decades with varying degrees of success.
Additionally, many elements of the Doc Savage stories have been purloined over the years by various writers and creators. The character was a big inspiration on the creation of Superman. Doc had a secret, arctic stronghold he called his Fortress of Solitude and nine years after the last original Doc Savage magazine had hit the newsstands, Superman found himself revealing his own, identically-named sanctuary. It is possible that any Doc Savage project could find itself in a similar situation that the 2012 John Carter film did in having to explain that this is the source from where all those other, familiar things originated.