Before Bradley Cooper cemented his place as a geek icon by helping bring to life Guardians of the Galaxy’s Rocket Raccoon, his forays into science fiction had been pretty much limited to Limitless. (Well, that and the weirder parts of Alias.) The 2011 thriller took that old myth about people “only using 10% of your brain” and ran with it, casting Cooper as an author who begins using a drug that amps that percentage up to 100%. It didn’t exactly seem like a movie that was crying out for a sequel or spinoff, but in 2013 word came that it was being developed into a TV series. Now Limitless has inched one step closer to TV screens.
ScreenCrush reports that CBS has given a pilot order to Limitless, which will be written by Craig Sweeny (Elementary) and produced by Cooper, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Leslie Dixon, the latter of whom penned the original film, based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. But what story will the Limitless TV show tell? Well, in typical CBS fashion, it will take the concept and reduce it to its blandest and most predictable form: the police procedural.
Given his busy schedule and rising star, nobody expected Cooper to reprise his role for a Limitless TV series, but it seemed likely that the show might continue to follow his character from the film, just recast with a different actor. But nope, Limitless: The Series will instead essentially be an outright reboot, taking the concept of the mind-enhancing drug NZT and applying it to crime-solving. The show’s protagonist will use his crazy brain powers to help the FBI solve cases. Because just being really smart doesn’t necessarily lend itself to costumed vigilantism unless you’re Batman.
Not that I was terribly enthusiastic about this project one way or another, but the whole crime procedural, while definitely consistent with CBS’ lineup, is also a thoroughly uninspired direction to take the material. The “10% myth” continues to linger stubbornly in the public consciousness, and last year’s Lucy demonstrated that it can still inspire worthwhile entertainment when riffed on in just the right way. I didn’t expect Limitless to get as batty as Lucy did, but yet another cop show? That’s an idea that didn’t even require 1% of the brain to come up with.
Then again, Person of Interest has shown that CBS can manage to rise above its predictable procedural template when the right combination of talent and imagination is applied. But this just sounds all too much like CSI: Your Brain to me.