What do you do for a follow up when you’ve written runaway bestsellers that combine a classic work of literature, and/or history, with a popular horror trope, and kick off a worldwide craze of literary mash ups? When you’re Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, you write a futuristic prison drama and sell it to one of the big three television networks, that’s what.
After blazing the way for a tiresome slew of imitators (books like Ben H. Winters’ Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters), Grahame-Smith has penned the script for a new show called Paradise, which has just received a pilot order from NBC. This follows on the heels of the news that CBS won the sweepstakes for the sci-fi themed series Extant from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.
The story takes place in near future, the late 21st century to be precise. Through a series of as-yet-unexplained events, Las Vegas has become the world’s largest maximum-security prison, and renamed Paradise. Into this jail, which you can bet probably isn’t nearly as idyllic as the moniker makes it sound, comes Dr. Matthew Turner, a new addition, convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. As you can imagine, he’s rather keen to prove his innocence, get out of prison, and get back to his normal life and his family. In order to accomplish this feat, he “will have to find a strength he never knew he had, and stay alive long enough to do the one thing no inmate has ever done: escape.”
You may notice certain similarities to stories that you’ve seen before. Perhaps, while reading this description, you had the thought that this sounds a little like Escape From New York crossed with either Shawshank Redemption or The Fugitives. It could be a little bit of both, depending on how much of the narrative takes place inside the prison, and how much goes down if and when he escapes.
Last season, NBC scored its biggest hit with a new show in a while with the post-apocalyptic thriller Revolution, and it seems they’re going back to that same well. We’ll see if Paradise meets with as much success as it’s network sibling, but the two properties do share something else in common. Both have a fair amount of creative star power behind them. Revolution was created by J.J. Abrams, Jon Favreau, and Eric Kripke. Jack-of-all-trades Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern) is producing Paradise for Warner Bros. TV, along with Melissa Kellner Berman, David Katzenberg, and Grahame-Smith.
Grahame-Smith has been, and should continue to be, a busy little bee. He wrote the script for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows remake, co-created and executive produced The Hard Times of RJ Berger for MTV, and is working on a Beetlejuice sequel, among other projects. And somewhere in there, he also had time to write yet another bestseller, Unholy Night, which he is in the process of adapting for the big screen. The man must not sleep.