In The Winning Pitch we state our case for adapting a comic, old or new, into what we believe would be a successful TV show.
James R: The following transcript is taken from a secret recording inside the office of Michael Lombardo, HBO's President of Programming...
“Hey, Michael – can I call you Michael? Oh, okay – Mr Lombardo then. Thanks for finding the time to see me. Now, I know HBO are always looking for a new, high-quality drama series to put in that Sunday night slot, and I think I’ve got something for you. It’s called Sex – no, wait, wait – don’t call security just yet, I think we could change the title! And anyway, it’s not what you think. Actually, it is, but it’s very HBO.
"Alright, here’s why. As you know, comics are big business now – at the movies, and even on TV. I mean, how many TV series do DC have in production right now? Six? Seven? Anyway, it’s clear that there’s a market, yeah? Well, this comic would allow you to build on that market, but in a far more adult and sophisticated way than we’ve seen so far.
"The main idea is this: What if Batman retired? Well, okay, not Batman, but a Batman analogue. Our hero is Simon Cooke, he’s a billionaire who dedicated his life to fighting crime as the 'Armoured Saint', but then, following a promise made to a dying mentor – and perhaps other, as-yet-undisclosed reasons – he’s quit, and is now trying to figure out what to do with his life. In the same way that Mad Men and Breaking Bad asked questions about identity - ‘Who are you, really?’ - Sex can do the same, for it asks ‘What do you do once you’ve peaked? What do you do with your life once you’ve done the greatest thing you’ll ever do?’ Now, I love stories of the Lunar missions, and those guys felt it too – once you’ve been to the Moon, what do you do next?
"So there’s your central, stimulating hook. But, as with all the best TV, there’s several other plot threads, all of which would work out well over future seasons. HBO made its name with crime dramas – The Sopranos, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire. Sex could be the next one on that list. You see, because our guy has retired, well, nature abhors a vacuum, and different criminal gangs are now vying to regain control of Saturn City. Yeah, it’s like Metropolis rather than Gotham, so we could film it in Vancouver to keep costs down, no problem!
"As well as the crime aspect, there’s a great ‘Hero’s Journey’/coming-of-age plot as Simon's former sidekick, Keenan, has decided to keep up with the crimefighting life – he’s not in costume anymore either, and he hooks up with one of Saturn City’s criminal gangs, so there’s the whole ‘undercover’ element too.
"I can see that the idea is growing on you, so let me address that elephant in the room – the title. Is there sex? Hell yes! Perversion? Yeah, this isn’t a show aimed at kids. BUT Mr Lombardo, everyone knows that HBO comes with a virtual guarantee of nudity, and once again, this comic adaptation could tick those boxes. There’s a Catwoman analogue, too: Shadow Lynx runs a high-end nightclub and escort agency. She’s a brilliant businesswoman though, and she’s every bit our hero’s equal… and we can really amp up that ‘will-they-won’t-they’ thing!
"Throw into that some excellent villains who would make for killer recurring parts, including a vampire who is like those salt vampires in Star Trek - she literally sucks the life out of people! Then there's the Prank Addict, who makes the Joker look like, well, a creepy clown. And last, and by no means least, there's a reporter who is very interested in Simon Cooke's life, and is starting to ask questions about who this mysterious billionaire is and what he gets up to.
"So it's drama, it's superheroes, it's suspense, it's mystery, it's characterisation, it's unpredictable - it's Sex. Or something else if you really don't like that title. You have my number, yeah Michael? Call me - we'll do lunch!"