ABC Launches Steampunk Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn Detective Series; World Groans
And So It Begins
I’m sorry. But I simply cannot talk about a putative television show about an Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn solving mysteries together in a steampunk version of New Orleans without bringing up 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, starring Sean Connery and a bunch of other people who probably didn’t do anything bad enough to deserve being the stars of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, fighting Professor Moriarty and Dorian Grey in a steampunk version of the 1890s where the Nautilus can fit into the canals of Venice and has a car in it.
I could go on at length about just how much WTFery there is in this movie, and the reason why is because somewhere, somewhere in the depths of Livejournal.com, is an “abridged script” I wrote for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for the amusement of my high school friends. So not only did it explore the random white tiger appearances, the severe reduction of Mina Murray’s character, the attempts at making references to other contemporary works of literature rendered awkward and soulless by the fact that the movie clearly has no confidence that its audience would pick up on them without having the title of the work said out loud, clearly, by a smiling cast member… it also ensured that I’d remember most of the film for years to come.
So understand where I’m coming from when I say that I’m a little skeptical about Finn & Sawyer, and it’s got almost nothing to do with Finn & Sawyer. LoXG, as I believe it was abbreviated, was just that bad.
I’ll try to resist the urge to explain how silly it was to have Tom Sawyer as a SRSTIMES American secret agent in the late 1890s who’s mourning the line-of-fire death of his partner Huck Finn, and instead talk about what we know about Finn & Sawyer:
[ABC] is developing Finn & Sawyer, a contemporary take on Mark Twain‘s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
The drama hails from Detroit 1-8-7 duo Jason Richman and David Zabel and is described as an adventure-themed reinvention that revolves around the two famed literary characters who re-meet as young men in their 20s and form an investigative firm in a bustling and steampunk New Orleans.
If I may make one more observation (in a post that, let’s face it, exists primarily so that I could rant about LoXG for a bit), it’s that it’s interesting that we’re getting a steampunk Sawyer/Finn adaptation now, when the last time The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn made news, it was because Gabriel Diani and Etta Devine were bothered by the idea of bowdlerizing the historically accurate n-word out of the novel for schools, and decided to demonstrate the impact of the erasure of the word on the book’s narrative (Huck’s slow realization of the humanity of his friend Jim) by creating their own version of the text… where every instance of the n-word was replaced with “robot.”
Needless to say, Finn & Sawyer, a show in a genre with plenty of clockwork men walking around, don’t do that. It was an effective trick as a response to the softening of a work that powerfully presents actual history. One way to get me interested in you as a show would be to take the fact that you’re set in a time of great inequality and not ignore it, as work in the steampunk genre can sometimes do.
(via The Hollywood Reporter.)