Mark Twain characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are staples of American literature. There have been numerous attempts to bring the characters to life in movies and TV through the decades. Usually, they’re imagined as mischief-loving (but well-meaning) Southern youngsters.
Well, say goodbye to that mental image.
According to Deadline, CBS has ordered Sawyer & Huck, a pilot based on the two literary characters, but with a modern twist, of course. The twist in this case would see Tom and Huck as adults in present-day St. Louis, where the series will aim to shine a similar light on issues of race and class, as Twain’s novels once did.
It will be interesting to see how this works out, as the current political climate of the United States could mean this theme will hit home with more viewers, and, if done right, may make the series feel more relevant and help counteract the inevitable symptoms of unnecessary reboot fatigue.
That is certainly a big task for the pilot’s writers, Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier (The Blacklist), and Anthony Hemingway (Shameless, Treme), who has been brought on board to direct. But the trio may face an even more significant obstacle as the series’ proposed concept seems a bit too much like other shows that have cycled through CBS’s primetime schedule over the years.
For instance, this reimagining of the characters envisions the duo initially coming together to solve a murder. Afterwards, Sawyer employs his childhood friend Huckleberry Finn as an investigator at his fledgling legal firm, and the two then offer their services to clients who have otherwise run out of options.
That’s right: CBS is getting another legal procedural.
For the record, there is a basis for this storyline in Mark Twain’s writings. Although many Americans are more familiar with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain did bring the two together as adults in Tom Sawyer, Detective. This was the version of Tom Sawyer that featured in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Though the pilot is said to be based on Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, it’s possible that so much may be changed about the classic duo that they become unrecognizable. Too many changes could cancel out the nostalgia factor and leave fans of the characters cold. That’s the risk that comes with “modernizing” characters from decades past. While themes of class and race give a Sawyer & Huck pilot something to work with, the question arises as to whether this will be enough to draw viewers in.
At the same time, it’s possible we might get a series about a funny crime-solving duo that fills the void left by Psych. If done well, this could be a tool for introducing a new generation to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
On that note, if you looked at the title and muttered, “That should be Sawyer & Finn,” then you should know you weren’t the only one.
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