Perhaps looking to fill the “serial killer drama” hole left by the end of Showtime’s Dexter last year, the FX Network has announced that they are developing From Hell, a new drama series based on the graphic novel about Jack the Ripper by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. From Hell originally ran in several installments over a very long period, from 1989-1996, and was finally collected into one giant phonebook-sized collection in 1999. Along with Moore’s Watchmen, From Hell is considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time.
Fox has adapted the graphic novel once before, although they changed significantly from its source material, in a movie starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, directed by the Hughes Brothers and produced by Don Murphy back in 2001. Although the movie was interesting and atmospheric, it really wasn’t the graphic novel, which told of the Whitechapel murders of 1888 from the killer’s point of view. A movie like that would have been considered uncommercial back in 2001, but we live in a post-Hannibal and Dexter world now, and anything goes.Don Murphy, who produced the original film, always envisioned the book as an television series, and FX specializes in dark “event” series like American Horror Story these days.
What’s interesting about producing From Hell now is that the original thesis posed in the graphic novel and the movie about the identity of Jack the Ripper (SPOILERS for both the book and the movie, obviously) is one that involved the Freemasons and the Royal Family on England, one that is very shocking and makes for a great story, but that has been ultimately debunked in the years since. In fact, earlier this year news came from the UK that forensic evidence had finally revealed the true face behind Jack the Ripper, and it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the storyline in From Hell supposes. Jack the Ripper was most interesting when we didn’t know who the madman in the top hat was, and everyone could project their own fears and theories onto him in order to create the ultimate serial killer. One thing’s for sure though — as with all filmed versions of his works, Alan Moore will not be watching, and he pretty much already hates it already without a single frame having been shot yet.