The Mediapro Studio is teaming with Spanish director Jorge Dorado and author Cuca Canals on detective thriller “The Young Poe” in a bid to build a second English-language international franchise on the heels and of the scale of “The Head,” sold to 90-plus territories and TMS’ biggest breakout hit to date.
Enrolling one of the biggest IPs in literary history, Edgar Allen Poe, the series adapts the hit novel saga of Spain’s Cuca Canals, co-screenwriter of Bigas Luna’s celebrated “Jamón Jamón” movie trilogy.
Canals’ novels imagine Poe as a precocious, irrepressible, neurotic and highly Gothic 11 or 12 year-old in 1820 Boston, grounding in true events of Poe’s childhood the extraordinarily analytical and morbid mind which Edgar Allen Poe brings to his fiction – whether 1841’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” commonly regarded as the first modern detective story, or the horror short stories such as “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
Development on “The Young Poe” is headed by “Homeland” executive producer Ran Tellem, TMS international content development head, a role he also fulfilled on “The Head.” Dorado (“The Department of Time”), who directed Seasons 1 and 2 of “The Head,” will direct all six episodes of the first season of “The Young Poe.”
Screenplays are being written by Dominic Harari y Teresa Pelegri (“The Food Guide to Love,” “Unconscious”).
With a bible, pilot script, director and novel saga base all in place, “The Young Poe” will be brought onto the market at Series Mania, which runs March 17-26.
In the series, the young Poe sparks the interest of the local police through his precocious capacity to solve murder mysteries. He ends up becoming a faithful assistant to Boston’s Inspector Auguste Dupin, a kindred soul.
The series will be set in 1820s’ Boston, a time when the population of the city was mainly composed of emigrants from all walks of life and backgrounds. Shot in English, this demographic melting pot will allow the series to feature an international cast of actors and actresses of different nationalities in line with the style that The Mediapro Studio inaugurated in “The Head.”
Canals’ books also paint a comprehensible portrait of a young Poe, based largely on true events, beginning with first novel, “El misterio de la calle Morgue,” where Poe is still traumatized by the death of his mother a few years before, and is caught working in his step-father’s morgue, keeping a pet raven, and breaking down his life into a series of lists, analysis, superstitions and extreme attention to detail – the number of tears he cries, for instance – in what can be interpreted as an attempt to avoid further tragic misfortune.
“So many things that we describe are based on real events. Poe’s beautiful actress mother died when he was young, His father abandoned him. He and his siblings were put into adoption but in different homes. His foster father beat him. Among his father’s many businesses, he owned a morgue,” Canals told Variety.
“The novels allow you little by little to discover one of the most important personalities in world culture,” she added, saying that the series “has to reflect Poe’s world, its psychological horror, but add humor since targeting family audiences.”
“One of the beautiful features about Cuca Canals’ novels is that TV shows are many times one thing or another, either plot or character,” said Tellem.
“Here, they’re completely mixed together,” he added. “There’s a really, really beautiful plot where every step is really important and a detective story; and, at the same time, you follow the story of the characters and what happens to them, which is such a powerful story.”
In a young but tumultuous life, Poe not only finds order in analysis but in Dupin a father-figure he desperately yearns for and Dupin gets a family he never had in youth. “You might say that this is a modern family in Boston 1820,” Tellem said.
“The series targets an adult audience. It has to have the Gothic ambience of Poe’s stories, which you find in the episodes, but be amusing and playful,” Dorado said of the series’ direction.
Each novel adaptation, all inspired by Poe stories, will span two episodes. “The Young Poe” Season 1 is described by TMS as a six-part co-viewing detective thriller. An overarching crime mystery threads the whole of a season.
“Why tell a story set in Boston 1820 right now in 2023?” Tellem asked.
The show reflects on modern-day parenting. “Children today are very protected, cushioned, know very little about the world until they finally grow up and discover a world very different from what they thought. In 1820 Boston, you grew up on the streets. You knew life. There’s a danger of over-protecting your kids. Let them explore the world. They will find out things that will help them grow up.”
Another issue which is “really, really important,” Tellem noted, is truth. “We are living in a time, when truth is in its most fragile place. Truth today is an alternative, one of many options. ‘The Young Poe’ is all about truth. To catch a murderer you have to discover evidence that can stand up in court. Finding the murderer is based on only one thing: The power of truth. That feels very, very Zeitgeist 2023.”
“‘The Young Poe’ is also very meta, chronicling in its own narrative the creation of the detective tale, as crime drama ranks, according to an Ampere Analysis study presented at the Berlinale Series Market, as the top TV show type for scripted commissioning – both linear TV and streamers – in the second half of 2022.
“Poe is in the beginning of so many important things in literature. Very few people know that the word ‘detective’ in English was not invented until Poe wrote the first detective story in English. He is that essential,” said Tellem.
Poe himself, like Dupin in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” is brilliant and eccentric. He has his inner demons.
“What’s also beautiful about ‘The Young Poe’ is that it’s suddenly Poe himself who is inventing step by step what we know about detective work: Fingerprints, closing a scene when he picks up on a clue, or the autopsy, as in a scene where young Poe is in the morgue and the corpses talk to him via their body language,” said Tellem.
“‘The Young Poe’ will be very cool, very Gothic, have a lot of imagination and at the same time the way Poe works as a detective is very logical,” he concluded.
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