Netflix is on a roll, it seems. The online streaming service - which gained headlines with its resurrection of cult favorite series Arrested Development – has demonstrated an increased desire to expand its original programming as of late.
In addition to hit shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black (both of which have been renewed for season 2), Netflix has a number of other projects in the works, including four series and a miniseries resulting from its partnership with Marvel Studios. Now another show is being added to the list.
Netflix has announced its plans to launch Marco Polo, a drama series centering on the early days of the titular explorer. Currently set to premiere in late 2014, the show is created by writer John Fusco (Young Guns, Hidalgo), who will also serve as executive producer. Also involved are directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (best known for the Oscar-nominated Norwegian film Kon-Tiki) and executive producer/director Dan Minahan (Game of Thrones, True Blood).
The show – which was once in the works over at Starz, before the network ultimately passed – will take place over the course of nine chapters and will reportedly prominently feature Polo's involvement in the war-torn setting of 13th-century China. No word yet on potential cast members or if other creative talents will come onboard to share the writing and directing duties.
Marco Polo marks something of a creative departure for Netflix, which has largely focused on contemporary series thus far with its original programming. Fusco has proven himself a capable screenwriter, though this is his first stab at penning a series, but it's likely that Minahan – who has a decade's worth of experience in television – was brought on to compensate for Fusco's relative lack thereof.
Perhaps even more notably, Rønning and Sandberg tackled a historical adventure centering on a explorer to great acclaim with their work on Kon-Tiki (which led to them being hired to direct Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales for Disney). There's little doubt that they could prove themselves an essential part to the potential success of Marco Polo.
Of course, it's far too early to make a judgment call about this series, but with the talent already involved, it does appear that the ingredients are falling into place for Netflix. After all, networks like HBO and Showtime have been trying their hand at historical dramas for years. If Netflix plays its hand just right, it could have another winner.
Do you think Marco Polo sounds like a series worth adding to your Netflix instant queue, or should the streaming service focus its attention elsewhere? Sound off in the comments section with your thoughts.
Marco Polo will debut exclusively on Netflix in late 2014.