The Departed Could Be Made Into A TV Show With Some Major Changes

Considering television’s current obsession with spinning series adaptations out of movies, both acclaimed and reviled, it’s somewhat surprising that nothing from Martin Scorsese’s long and historic filmography has been considered for the small screen. At least until now, as producer Roy Lee has revealed discussions have been made about finding a way to turn The Departed into a TV series. Unfortunately, though, it’s not a prequel about Jack Nicholson’s Frank Costello and his rise to notoriety.

In fact, it sounds like The Departed would be more of a general blueprint for the show’s narrative, rather than a by-the-book form of source material. (Which makes sense, considering it was based on the 2002 Thai crime thriller Infernal Affairs.) Here’s what Lee had to say:

The Departed as a concept is amazing. That’s what attracted me to the story, the two moles working on either side of the law, and translating that idea into other settings with new characters, like how Fargo has taken the feel of the Coen Brother’s film. We were having discussions about making Infernal Affairs a television series. A different city, so it’s not anything like The Departed, but essentially The Departed as a TV series.

If we’re being honest, The Departed isn’t exactly the most original story on a basic level: Cop goes undercover into a criminal organization and all the bad guys try to figure out who the mole is. But it’s a premise that can be worked a million different ways where the details are concerned, and all it takes is a fantastic cast to take it to the next level. A TV version likely wouldn’t command the kind of thespians that Scorsese’s Oscar-winning film did, but there are plenty of actors and actresses who could step in and make some big waves. Seriously, though, let’s get Ray Liotta signed up right now.

Lee namedropping FX’s Fargo to Collider as a comparable situation is completely understandable, as creator Noah Hawley took the Coen brothers’ film and kept the spirit and canon while telling wholly original stories. I love that take on it, since Fargo has such amazing storytelling prowess and goes in every direction imaginable. I’d be extremely excited about a Departed-style crime story hitting up different cities on a yearly basis and bringing in every facet of criminal underworlds.

Though Scorsese likely wouldn’t be involved in a major way, the director has made himself comfortable with television in the recent past, serving as a director and executive producer on HBO’s violent period drama Boardwalk Empire and as one of the co-creators of the currently airing 1970s music-centric drama Vinyl. So there’s a chance he’d at least get behind the camera for the pilot, if this Departed project ever got that far.

Roy Lee made his name turning foreign films, usually of the horror variety, into successful American remakes, though that’s only a fraction of his filled slate these days. His television work has basically been limited to an executive producer stint on Bates Motel. Could The Departed lead to his next TV gig? I hope so. What about you guys?

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.