On the surface, this article appears to be about the umpteenth film to be translated to TV, but that’s not entirely true. When notoriously outspoken author Alan Moore’s gothic crime story From Hell made its way to the big screen back in 2001, the story structure had to be altered greatly in order to boil down a nearly 600-page graphic novel into a movie just over two hours in length.
While the basic premise was retained, From Hell’s film adaptation drastically changed some characters, expanded others, and outright removed a few. The book also makes clear who the killer is from the very beginning, allowing readers to spend some time inside his twisted mind. The Hughes Brothers’ chose to make their movie into a more traditional mystery, with the main narrative thrust being Inspector Abberline’s (Johnny Depp) investigation. In short, there are many facets of Moore’s story that the film version didn’t even touch, leaving From Hell ripe for a longer, more faithful adaptation by cable drama powerhouse FX.
As you might imagine, the Hughes Brothers will not have any involvement with From Hell’s TV series adaptation, although the movie’s producer Don Murphy will return to oversee the project. Penning the script will be Children of Men screenwriter David Arata, who received an Oscar nomination for his work on that widely praised film. Oddly enough, this will actually be only his second writing credit since then. One would think studios would be falling over themselves to work with an Oscar-nominated scribe, but it appears that isn’t the case.
Murphy cites the recent wave of popular “event series” as his inspiration for bringing From Hell to TV, which he’s always seen as a more natural venue for the material. It’s currently unclear whether From Hell is itself being planned as a one-and-done event series, if it will tell the book’s story over the course of multiple seasons, or if it will be more akin to Fargo or American Horror Story.
A standalone miniseries seems most likely, considering From Hell’s concept doesn’t really lend itself to the anthology style that Fargo and AHS have adopted. Of course, if the show proves popular, FX will surely find a way to continue it. Maybe Abberline can investigate a new killing spree every season? That may sound like an odd prospect, but money can be a powerful creative motivator.
Amid all this uncertainty about From Hell’s TV future, we can all take comfort in one thing being true: Alan Moore will have absolutely nothing to do with this adaptation of his work, and will probably bash it every chance he gets. Alan Moore hating things is right up there with death and taxes on the guarantees of life chart.
The From Hell TV series is in early development, and has no current premiere date.