Development Deal: Felix Castor
If there’s one thing that a quick look at the current state of television and movies will tell you, it’s that there’s not much need for original ideas when there’s so much out there ready and waiting to be adapted, updated or just outright ripped off. That’s why we’ve decided to help in that process with a series which offers up some of the things we’d like to see being brought to big screen or small. This week’s suggestion? Felix Castor
What Is It?
Felix Castor is the lead character in a series of novels by Mike Carey, whom you may know more from his comic book writing career on books like Lucifer, X-Men: Legacy and The Unwritten amongst many others. In a lot of ways, the Castor novels – there are five, I think: The Devil You Know, Vicious Cycle, Dead Men’s Boots, Thicker Than Water and The Naming of Beasts – are closest to his run on the Vertigo title Hellblazer, in that both series center around supernatural mystery set in the U.K. with somewhat grizzled lead characters who have suffered and become hardened by their experiences. But the Castor series feels as if it has more heart and optimism than the long-running Hellblazer, as well as more humor.
Castor calls himself a “freelance exorcist,” which gives you a flavor of what to expect in Carey’s novels, but you’d have to add in some detective work, more than a little mystery about what’s happened in the character’s past, and a Buffy-esque use of horror as metaphor for the human condition to get something closer to the full flavor. The books are ridiculously enjoyable, and the kind of thing that more people should be reading. So, let’s think about bringing them to a wider audience?
What Could It Be?
It’s a television series waiting to happen, obviously. But, to be more specific, it’s a British television series waiting to happen. That may sound like an odd thing to say, but watch Sherlock or other British detective shows and you’ll have a better idea of what I mean; there’s a format to some British dramas that sees episodes run two hours or so, and offer complete (yet complex) stories in every episode. I think I should be blaming Inspector Morse for this – Was there a series that continually offered two hour adaptations of entire books before that? – but that’s exactly the kind of treatment these books deserve.
The reason that this format is in my head lately is actually a British detective show called Case Histories that aired recently on PBS and even more recently actually graduated from my TiVo list to actual viewing; it stars Jason Isaacs as a well-meaning-but-somewhat-grisled detective, and throughout the whole thing, I kept wondering how he’d fare as Castor (I suspect he’d do it with charm to spare). In terms of directors or writers, I’d raid the old standbys, Doctor Who and Sherlock; Euros Lyn has demonstrated a fine eye for detail and atmosphere in Who, as well as an ability to work with effects, which would – of course – be necessary for this kind of show. But it’d be Sherlock‘s Mark Gatiss (who has, of course, done work on Who as well) that I’d grab to showrun this series, and not just for his work on the detective show – His background in creating and writing the League of Gentlemen series gives him a firm grasp on unsettling quasi-genre writing, as far as I’m concerned.
Castor may not be the most obvious choice for television adaptation – the failure of The Dresden Files may even act against it – but as something that could mix the kitchen sink horror of a show like Being Human with the more mainstream detective/mystery genre, I think – if done right – it could be the kind of thing that could turn a lot of heads… and draw a lot more people to the books, too.