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Like almost everything that Terry Gilliam has ever been a part of, his 1981 fantasy film Time Bandits has managed to elude many people while amassing a huge cult following. For those hoping that Gilliam wasn’t completely finished with this wild and wacky universe, there may be a bright light at the end of the hallway behind the bedroom wall. Rather than a film follow-up, however, Gilliam is actually working on a Time Bandits TV series. Is there a network awesome enough to take this on?
Gilliam was engaged in a webchat through The Guardian when someone asked if he was interested in bringing his filmmaking talents back to television, where he started things off with Do Not Adjust Your Set and Monty Python. Here’s his answer, which also brings up another project he’d been talking about for a while.
Yes I am! We are involved in two possibilities - one, a TV series based on Time Bandits, another based on a script by Richard LaGravanese and I wrote after Fisher King, called The Defective Detective. We're currently adapting a two-hour film into a six-hour series. It's about a middle-aged New York cop who was once a hero who has grown fat and cynical and is in the middle of a breakdown, ending up in a child's fantasy world where the rules of the mean streets of New York no longer apply. The best way to kill a dragon is no longer a gun, but a tree branch you think is a sword.
My first thought, beyond general jubilation, was “Why the shit did he give so many details about the latter project and not the Time Bandits series?” We want to know if “based on” means it’s going to tell largely the same story over the course of an entire TV season, or if it will simply employ the same time traveling dynamic and fantasy elements that are present in a lot of Gilliam’s work, with the requisite band of dwarves thrown in. Not that anyone can “simply” do such a thing.
In the film, Craig Warnock’s young and imaginative Kevin gets his mind blown when he discovers that his room is a vessel by which he can travel through time and space, which he does so while joining the aforementioned dwarves in keeping a sought-after map safe from evil…er, Evil, as played by David Warner. The treasure-chasing narrative goes all over the place and brings in characters such as Sean Connery’s Agamemnon and John Cleese’s Robin Hood, with other actors like Michael Palin, ian Holm and Shelley Duvall filling out the stellar cast.
There was talk of a Time Bandits remake back in 2011, and it thankfully never came to light, as no one but Gilliam should be behind anything related to that film, which goes with the superb Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen as the Trilogy of Imagination. Of course, we’ve been waiting for Gilliam’s Don Quixote for ages now, so there’s no telling when Time Bandits will make its way to the small screen.