If you thought that season-long anthology series like American Horror Story and True Detective had completely closed the coffin on episodic anthologies, NBC (of all networks) is teaming up with some big names to potentially bring the underused format back to audiences. Endemol Studios is working with microbudget producer mastermind Jason Blum with former Dracula executive producer Tony Krantz on an as-yet-untitled horror/sci-fi series with episodes based on true stories. Is it too much to ask in hoping this is the dream mash-up of Tales from the Darkside and Unsolved Mysteries?
NBC is currently floating a script-to-series commitment out there, waiting to approve the script before officially ordering a 10-episode season, according to Deadline. The script will be written by the collective Radio Silence, comprised of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Justin Martinez, Tyler Gillett and Chad Villella. The foursome’s biggest claim to fame at this point also involves an anthology, as they put together the insane segment “10/31/98” for the horror V/H/S. That short was more visual style than substance, but I’m anxious to see what kind of monstrosities they can bring to broadcast TV.
Endemol North America Co-CEO Charlie Corwin has worked with both Blum and Krantz in the past, and put the two producers together with this concept in mind. Endemol Studios, the scripted offshoot of the reality TV juggernaut Endemol (Big Brother), was also one of the companies behind the superb British anthology series Black Mirror, which took near-future concepts and gave them disturbingly satirical twists. Here’s a trailer for the episode “The National Anthem,” which saw Rory Kinnear’s Prime Minister at the center of a most heinous dilemma involving a kidnapping and bestiality. And it was only the first episode.
Blum is one of the more prolific modern horror producers out there, with his Blumhouse Productions backing everything from the Paranormal Activity franchise to The Purge films to no less than 25 productions that will be released in the next two years. Having dabbled in TV with The River and HBO’s acclaimed film The Normal Heart, Blumhouse is currently putting together Syfy’s miniseries Ascension, MTV’s Eye Candy, the Fox miniseries Son of Sam and an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Sharp Objects.
Krantz’s history with television goes back to series like Wonderland, 24 and Sports Night, with the cancelled Dracula as his latest. He produced David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, both the pilot and the film, and eventually continued that horror trend with low-budget fare like Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back, Believers and Otis, which he also directed.
I never understood why Showtime’s Masters of Horror didn’t last longer – and also why it wasn’t any better. Maybe NBC can usher in a new wave of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone-inspired series that remind us why anthologies are great. Or maybe the script will be awful and they'll pass on the entire shebang. Which one seems more likely?