Development Deal: DMZ
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 that offers up some of the things we’d like to see being brought to big screen or small. This week’s suggestion? DMZ.
What is It?
DMZ was a 72-issue comic book series by writer Brian Wood and artists including Riccardo Burchielli and many, many others that followed a reporter in Manhattan during a second American Civil War that has turned the city into a war zone between the United States of America and the Free States of America. Unapologetically complex and morally ambiguous, DMZ was one of those things that make you realize how powerful the slow burn of long form storytelling can be when pulled off properly, creating a thought-provoking commentary on society, politics and the media that simultaneously worked as an exciting thriller for those who wanted to read it solely on that level.
What Could It Be?
Let’s be honest: In a perfect world, DMZ would kill as a long form television series that watches like a cross between The Wire and Battlestar Galactica (By which I mean, the kinetic camerawork and constant paranoia and sense of movement of the latter, especially from its “New Caprica” arc in the show’s third season). With the “near-future” setting of DMZ – and the series’ increasing scale and scope – DMZ has the potential to be a Walking Dead-style crossover hit from genre to mainstream success, if given the care, subtlety and time that it deserves to develop.
The mention of BSG makes me wonder what Ron Moore would be like as showrunner of a television version; certainly, he’d likely enjoy getting his teeth into the political aspects of the series’ mythology, but I wonder if the comic-as-is isn’t enough of an ensemble piece for him (Traditionally, he enjoys/employs large casts). If not him, then perhaps dig deeper into the BSG veterans and pull the partnership of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle out to see whether they’d be interested in the gig (They’re doing CSI now, and that probably pays really well, after all); they do seem to be into the quasi-military/strategic thinking that could serve them well in a series about a modern war…
In that I’m clearly pulling for a best-case scenario, the DMZ show would land at a cable channel where (a) swearing and (b) morally-complex and ultimately downbeat drama could play out as a sensible pace without the need to pander to either mass audiences or advertisers. HBO, to follow the Wire thread, perhaps, or maybe Showtime as a Homeland chaser. Of course, such a show would end up being critically-acclaimed for one season, and then derided for being too slow/having lost it/etc. when it became a hit immediately afterwards, but if Walking Dead can grin and bear it as it hits ratings highs for its third year, I’m sure DMZ could, too. So how can we convince Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment (who control the media rights to the comic) that this is something that needs to happen…?