You might not realize it, but long before there was a “Zombieland” hit movie, there was nearly a “Zombieland” TV series. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick originally envisioned the reality of a post-apocalyptic, zombie-heavy world as ideal for the television medium, had a pilot script that ended when Wichita and Little Rock drove off and left Tallahassee and Columbus behind, and only expanded it after the networks passed. Now, the flick is on DVD, sequels are on the way – and the writers are determined to still make a “Zombieland” TV series.
“We wrote it as a TV show almost five years ago – the summer of 2005 - and sold it to CBS,” said Paul Wernick, who conceived the project with his writing partner Rhett Reese as the first-ever zombie TV show. “Ultimately, it just wasn’t the perfect fit at the right time for CBS, and they ended up not moving forward on it.”
“It was after ‘28 Days Later,’ but I think zombies and CBS were never necessarily the greatest of fits,” Reese said. “Interestingly, we shopped it around everywhere else. Every single network and cable network in America said no, and we’re not sure why… for some reason, they didn’t trust it as a television show, and it ultimately became a movie.”
Asked if they still think “Zombieland” is a uniquely-suited for-TV idea, Wernick had a simple answer: “Hell yes,” he said with a grin.
These days, the duo are hard at work working on their “Zombieland 2” script, “Deadpool” and a sequel to “G.I. Joe,” amongst other things. But when they’re done with “Zombieland” sequels, the writers have every intention of taking the world of laughter and the living dead to TV.
“I think that’s what we would do probably is recast it - or at least, our four leads,” Reese said of the unlikely possibility that Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and the others would want to do weekly TV years from now. “And then, beyond that, we can introduce any characters we want - and that was going to be the joy of the TV show, bringing in new people and killing them off, not killing them off, depending on how we felt about them. We really wanted to explore that.”
“It would have to be shot differently,” Wernick said of the blood-and-gore restrictions that would also need to be taken into consideration. “It’s funny; you write action and you write gore and you write horror and it’s all how its shot, how it’s presented. You can write it as graphic as you want, it’s just [up to the director] to cut away on the gory stuff on TV. Whereas, you would show it with the clown and the mallet in the movie, where the blood squirts all over the place.”
“We always thought [it should be a TV series],” Reese added, saying that the duo have pages of still-unused ideas at this point, waiting to be dusted off for future “Zombieland” storylines. “If you watch the movie with that in mind, you will see some remnants of the television show. We have the ‘Zombie Kill of the Week,’ which was always intended to happen every week. The movie ends on a cliffhanger; it doesn’t have a real resolution. [The movie’s ending] is just our guys driving off into the sunset for some new adventures. That’s because, that’s how the television pilot ended.”
What do you think? Is “Zombieland” suited for weekly TV? Would you watch a “Zombieland” TV show?