Over the past day or so, a number of interesting TV projects have been announced. Stars, producers, and concepts were revealed, and as soon as those notions entered your mind, you started projecting your own hopes, dreams, and misgivings about these new series. Do you know that kind of thinking? If not, here are three examples of what I’m getting at.
The Night of the Gun (AMC). The late David Carr, the great media columnist and cultural presence at the New York Times, wrote a wonderfully honest memoir of addiction in 2008’s The Night of the Gun. One reason it is such a good book is that, unlike a lot of other memoirs, Carr steered away from melodrama and self-aggrandizement, and used his newspaperman skills to report on what his years of addiction were like. AMC says its Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk will star in an adaptation of Gun, working with writer-producer Shawn Ryan. My first reaction to this was: No! Please no! I worry that a TV adaptation will make Carr’s material more lurid than it is in the book, especially since Ryan hasn’t displayed all that subtle a hand in often highly entertaining material like The Shield, Last Resort, and his beloved-in-some-circles cult item Terriers. But Odenkirk has shown ever-increasing delicacy in his acting (indeed, Saul’s eerie mood is actually quite compatible with Night of the Gun), so I’m guardedly hopeful this project will prove worthy of its source material.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon). This series from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is the story of a 1950s housewife who wants to become a standup comic. I’m always all-in for whatever Sherman-Palladino wants to do, and I like that this project has a very specific concept, unlike the rather amorphous one that may have helped doom her sole bomb, The Return of Jezebel James. (No, I do not consider the one-season-wonderful Bunheads a failure at all.) If Sherman-Palladino can tap into the brash, often vulgar energy that propelled early female standups like Jean Carroll, Totie Fields, Moms Mabley, and Phyllis Diller, it could be a humdinger of a show.
The Son (AMC). Although this has been announced as an “epic tale” of the “rise and fall of one Texas family,” take it from someone who has read Philipp Meyer’s 2013 novel: This is a western, a damn good western, and it will turn into a (God forbid) sprawling saga of a brawling clan only if AMC screws it up. Pierce Brosnan has been cast as the head of the prosperous McCullough family, a man with a unique past: He was raised by Comanche Indians. In the book, this character, known as the Colonel, is no wily J.R. Ewing type, no rascally patriarch — he’s a ruthless, late-19th-century-born man whose malign influence brings challenges and not a little pain to the next two generations of his family. I’m glad author Meyer will be one of the 10-episode series’ writers and hope he’ll be able to retain the book’s unsentimental view of the Old West, as in this typically dyspeptic observation: “The Colonel always complained about the moment his cowboys began to read novels about cowboys; they all lost track of which was true, the books or their own lives.” I want to see a Son who’ll rise to this prose.
In short, fingers crossed, with a lot of apprehension about each of these promising projects.