NBC has given a straight to series order for a television adaptation of the 2008 Liam Neeson thriller Taken. The series will be a prequel, taking place before the film trilogy which saw Neeson’s Bryan Mills attempting to retrieve various members of his family after they are abducted by international criminals. In the films, Mills is a retired CIA operative and this prequel series will take place in his youth, before he married and had his daughter. Bizarrely, however, the film will not take place in the past and will instead be set in the present day.
Luc Besson, a co-writer and producer for the film trilogy, is spearheading the series and the search is on for a writer to serve as showrunner once the show begins active production. Ordering a show straight to series is different than simply ordering a pilot. While ordering a pilot will give the network a single episode with which to base a larger decision about whether to air the show on, ordering a show straight to series means the show will begin production on it’s first season as a whole. This costs much more than a pilot order and it means NBC is virtually guaranteed to air the series. This is not necessarily set in stone however; there is a precedent for straight to series shows being dropped by the network before airing (Fox, for instance terminated production on thriller Hieroglyph before it aired a single episode last year) but it remains highly unlikely.
A question that probably deserves to be asked is does Taken need to become a TV series? It’s difficult to imagine how the franchise would support an ongoing multi-season television show; the premise barely supports the three films. In addition, the removal of Mills’ wife and daughter from the story seems to suggest it’s unlikely that the show will retain the trope of his family getting repeatedly ‘taken’, unless he has an extremely unlucky cousin we have never heard about or something. It’s difficult to imagine a TV show in which someone gets kidnapped every week only to get rescued by Mills that remains interesting for long. Even a different kidnapping each season seems unlikely to support the weight of at least ten episodes a year, and that’s assuming NBC doesn’t opt for a full 22 episode season. So, in that case, does the show drop the kidnapping aspect entirely and instead just make it a show about a CIA agent? If that’s the case, why even bother to pursue the Taken licence? Why not just call it something new and rename the lead character? Well, we’ll find out soon enough, because NBC seems set on delivering us a Taken TV series whether we want it or not.