CBS is eyeing an adaptation of the classic 1896 H.G. Wells novel The Island of Doctor Moreau. The novel depicts the story of the eponymous Doctor Moreau, a mad scientist who attempts to combine humans and animals at his island laboratory. The show, should it make it to series, would depict Moreau as female and present the events that transpire after a man is shipwrecked on the mysterious island. The series is being developed by Sleepy Hollow co-creator Phillip Iscove, who left Fox’s supernatural drama at the conclusion of it’s sophomore season.
The novel has been adapted before, most notably in 1932 under the title Island of Lost Souls and again in 1996. The second film, which retained the novel’s name, is probably more well known for the behind the scenes drama that plagued the movie’s production than the film itself, which included Richard Stanley (the original director) being fired, the script undergoing frequent rewrites (which actor Marlon Brando dealt with by having his lines read to him over a concealed earpiece which unfortunately also picked up stray radio broadcasts) and tensions between actor Val Kilmer and director John Frankenheimer. The troubled production resulted in both an extremely bad reception for the film, and a documentary chronicling the movie’s problems, entitled Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau.
This is the latest in a series of unexpected projects at CBS, following other science fiction programming like Under the Dome, Extant, Zoo and Supergirl as well as Brain Dead an upcoming thriller about alien parasites that take over the minds of congressmen. That last one is being brought to us by the creators of The Good Wife of all people. CBS has found great success with it’s various acronym-based crime shows like CSI and NCIS as well as popular comedies like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, but they have tended to shy away from less mainstream projects. The network still draws the highest ratings of all the Big Three American free to air networks (the other two being Fox and NBC) and also has the oldest average audience. The latter statistic may explain the former, as younger generations have become increasingly prone to viewing media from places other then a traditional television broadcast. This foray into experimental programming has drawn mixed results; Under the Dome premiered to great ratings but quickly bled viewers and was cancelled after airing three seasons, and neither Extant or Zoo have set the world on fire. It’ll be interesting to see whether animal people and alien parasites can do for CBS what invisible domes and robot children did not.