While Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro is just waiting on a new writer to revise the script for ABC and Marvel's gestating new series featuring The Incredible Hulk, the filmmaker is looking to return to TV with another series first, on another network.
The Hollywood Reporter is claiming word that del Toro is developing a TV adaptation of Corinne May Botz's non-fiction book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death at HBO with Southland writer and novelist Sara Gran writing the script.
The book follows Frances Glessner Lee, a grandmother turned incredible criminal investigator. After founding the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1936, the New Hampshire police department recruited her for investigations. Throughout her work in the 40s and 50s, she became famous for crafting dollhouse replicas of real crime scenes as a way of training other detectives to efficiently look for evidence. There are 18 "Nutshell dioramas" still used in forensic training today.
One of Lee's gruesome "Nutshell dioramas" created for use in forensics training
Botz's writing goes more-so into the detail of Lee's obsessive work and personality rather than the drama from solving crime cases. But the HBO series will take a more dramatic take on the material by having a lead described as "a 1950s small-town housewife who becomes obsessed with solving brutal crimes." However, it's not clear if the series will use real crimes as a foundation or create them out of thin air. Either way, it sounds like HBO is looking for their own Dexter-style series.
Del Toro will serve as executive producer and also director on the series (he would likely only direct the pilot), and Gran will co-executive produce in addition to her writing duties. Botz will also consult on the series as well to make sure it's as authentic as possible, especially when it comes to the intricate 1:12 scale dollhouses.
The last time del Toro worked in television was in 1989 on a Mexican series called La Hora Marcada, a sci-fi and horror anthology project in the same vein as The Twilight Zone which also had the talents of Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) involved at one time. This sounds very different from the film work he's done in fantasy and horror, so there should be plenty of anticipation and curiosity to see how he tackles this kind of material.
The series is still in development, so we'll keep you posted as more information becomes available.