A “Shutter Island” TV show is in the works…could it be the next “True Detective”?

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With the Emmy Awards tonight (and no, I won’t be predicting them…I don’t watch nearly enough television to know what I’m talking about), I figured this was an interesting subject. It came out earlier today that HBO and Paramount were working with Shutter Island filmmaker Martin Scorsese and original novel writer Dennis Lehane to turn that movie into a television series. The TV show is potentially going to be called Ashecliffe and is chock full of potential to me. Frankly, I think it could be television’s next big thing, perhaps even on the cinematic level of True Detective. That show could be on the verge of winning some Emmys in a few hours, so could this new one in development possibly be in the running at some point in the future?

I think it’s the involvement of Scorsese specifically that has me excited. While I never really watched Boardwalk Empire (which was a baby of his as well), the little bit I saw was very strong. Scorsese would reportedly at least direct the pilot of this show, so he’d have a major hand in initially shaping the world, so that’s another plus. Considering the long and fruitful relationship that the filmmaker has with both HBO and Paramount, I’d imagine he’ll have as much freedom as he requires here.

Obviously, my high praise of True Detective also comes into play here. HBO knows that they did something special with that show, at least beginning to bridge the gap between the big and small screen. Taking a cinematic property like Shutter Island and turning it into a series that isn’t constrained by a two hour or so time limit and still can look like a film, that’s got to at least partially be the goal here. At least, I sure hope that it is.

Personally, Shutter Island isn’t my favorite Scorsese movie ever, but it’s a solidly entertaining one and a flick that could easily translate to a weekly series. I’d imagine it won’t revolve around any of the characters from the film, so don’t expect to see Leonardo DiCaprio or Ben Kingsley or Mark Ruffalo here, but I suspect that it’ll focus on the inner workings of the mental hospital as well as potentially the odder aspects of the island itself. Combine that with the fact that it’ll most likely be a period piece and there’s tons to chew on here with Ashecliffe.

Especially if it catches on with a first season or two, I have a hunch that this could become THE show on HBO. It could be anything…a character study, a procedural, a far out B show like American Horror Story. The possibilities are fairly endless. With Lehane (who’s writing the pilot) and Scorsese being given the chance to shape this at least at the onset of things, I’m excited for the potential the show has. Anything can happen between now and shooting, but I’d look forward to this one if I were you. Just get a top notch actor or two in the cast and it’ll be must see TV.

It’ll probably be a year or two until this even comes close to reaching television screens, but this could really be a show worth getting excited about. Shutter Island was an interesting enough film, but it definitely could wind up even better as a TV series. Ashecliffe will be one worth waiting for…

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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