Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” wouldn’t seem like the most likely basis for an ongoing police procedural/time-tossed supernatural drama on Fox, but that’s precisely what series creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (“Transformers,” “Star Trek”), Len Wiseman (“Underworld”) have done. Their “Sleepy Hollow” reimagines timid school teacher Ichabod Crane as a hunky secret agent for the United States government, who wakes to find himself in the titular town, beset by murderous creatures from beyond.
It’s not a new approach: there’s a straight line from “Lord of the Flies” to “Battle Royale” or “The Odyssey” and “O Brother Where Art Thou” (or the sometimes forgotten anime “Ulysses 31”), or “Heart of Darkness” to “Apocalypse Now” or even the recently-cancelled ABC series, “The River.”
So we got to thinking, what if other classic pieces of literature got the “Sleepy Hollow” treatment?
“Les Miserable,” by Victor Hugo (1862)
We’ve seen numerous film adaptations of Victor Hugo’s sprawling story about law, “justice,” and love all set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. Well, what if we recast the story as a weekly superhero series, with Jean Valjean (known for his unusual strength in the story) still an escaped convict but one who was a victim of a secret government experiment, granting him spectacular powers. Now, Jean–or John–wanders the country, now a dystopian landscape, attempting to keep his head low but unable to stop himself from helping those in need while pursued by a driven, almost fanatical lawman.
“Paradise Lost,” by John Milton (1667)
Milton’s epic poem about the fall of Adam and Eve could become a tale of redemption… and a pile of dead aliens (what?). Millenia ago, alien “Adam” arrived on our planet, unaware of who–or what he is. It’s only when he’s attacked by aliens in present day, and saved by the mysterious, heavily-armed Eve, that he learns the truth: his home planet holds the secrets to the origins of mankind as well as domination of the galaxy, and the sinister Fallen One will stop at nothing to wrest that secret from our amnesiac hero. It’s one part “Terminator,” another part buddy action story as our heroes find secrets on earth that will unlock the path to Paradise.
“A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court,” by Mark Twain (1889)
We’ve seen variations of the modern hero lost in time in the past, but what if our Connecticut Yankee was trapped in a Boorman-esque version of Camelot, all bloody, crazy, and strange–that never ends? After modern day scientist Hank Morgan is tossed back in time to the age of Camelot, his meddling in the timeline with his scientific know-how ends up melding science and magic. Now, in the present-day, sorceress Morgana and her army of technomages celebrate 1500 years of continued rule of the planet, and Hank will have to master the strange, new hybrid technology if he hopes to defeat her alongside the revolutionaries of the Round Table.
“The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells (1896)
Wells’ story has been adapted (with varying levels of success) to the big screen several times, but what if this tale of playing god drops some of the tragedy and goes full-on action story? With a little bit of “Elephantmen” and a little bit of “Ninja Turtles” thrown in for good measure, our series will see the good doctor’s animal-man hybrids drafted by a paramilitary organization to take on some of the hybrids that have been set loose in the world. But along with their sympathetic human handler, our heroes slowly come to realize that Moreau is building an army with plans to change the course of human evolution.
“Phantom of the Opera,” by Gaston Leroux (1909)
After brilliant performing arts school student Erik is seriously injured and left for dead by his classmates, he becomes… “The Phantom of the High School!” Now, he’s back, and in this weekly romantic, musical drama, Erik will team up with awkward but talented ugly duckling Christine to find out who tried to kill him and–and to exact his revenge.