H.G. Wells book The Island of Dr. Moreau delved into the uncomfortable topic of biological experimentation, way back in 1896, with his story of the mad scientist Dr Moreau who exiles himself from England – when his controversial experiments are uncovered – to a remote Island, where he can slice and dice in peace, creating human/animal hybrids through the torturous process of vivisection.
Island of Dr. Moreau is among the most frequently adapted of Wells’ work; just a few years ago, in fact, Leonardo DiCaprio was reported to be producing a new film adaptation of the story. Now, however, it appears the next iteration of the sci-fi cautionary tale may take on the form of a television show, instead.
THR is reporting that Sleepy Hollow creator Phillip Iscove has committed to write the script and executive produce the Island of Dr. Moreau series (titled Moreau) – a show which, like Sleepy Hollow, will take place in the present day. Moreover, in an interesting twist to the story, the traditionally male Dr Moreau will be reinvented as a woman.
CBS has made a script commitment to Moreau, with Iscove – who left Sleepy Hollow after its second season along with showrunner Mark Goffman – leading the way. Here’s how THR describes the series’ title character – one Katherine Moreau, who is the head of her own private Island hospital facility (where she experiments on humans and animals):
“Fiercely intelligent and fearless, [Dr. Katherine Moreau] expands the boundaries of medicine through bold and revolutionary scientific experimentation and treatments”
Although adapted for several movies, (the most recent being The Island Of Dr Moreau in 1996 starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer) this is the first time the story will be serialized for TV. However, the book’s influence on the sci-fi genre is undeniable, as evidenced by references to Wells’ novel on shows like BBC America’s Orphan Black (where it even served as a plot device) – fitting for a TV series that involves scientists who mess with human genetics – and the more satirical nods to Wells’ book, like on The Simpsons (or even something like Kevin Smith’s movie Tusk).
The gruesome ideas within the original book have the potential for extreme and grotesque exploration on a series like Moreau; as this show is a CBS project, though, there’s a fair chance it will be more of a pulpy sci-fi action/drama, rather than being a heavy philosophical examination of human identity and scientific morality. It also remains to be seen how the original novel’s narrative is expanded to fit the multi-episode television format; with Dr. Moreau now a woman, the series could feature a man/woman couple dynamic (between Moreau and counterpart Edward Prendick) that resembles that featured on Sleepy Hollow, too. For now, though, all we can do is speculate.
Moreau is in early development at CBS; we’ll bring you more information as it becomes available.
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