It looks like “Poe” is on its way to really happening. The television show, which was announced as a potential project earlier this year, has just hired its first actor for the pilot, which is a good indicator that they really are moving forward with it.
Edgar Allan Poe is widely considered the father of the procedural detective story, in which an intellectual detective uses deduction and reasoning, along-side some tools of the trade, to discover the culprit in a great crime, usually murder.
His first detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, was the first time anyone saw such a detective, and the formula developed there has been seen everywhere from the works of Arthur Conan Doyle to modern television shows like CSI or Bones.
The formula even plays a large part in the underground mystery style shows, like Fringe and Warehouse 13, which is what makes the potential show so exciting.
Poe is also considered by many to be very influential in the fantasy thriller genre, meaning that there is more than a small chance that this new show will be one for the fantasy fans.
The officially released description of the show only says that Poe will be using his skills to solve “dark mysteries” in mid-19th century Boston.
Now, that could mean that he’s going to be discovering mysteries that lead him into an underground supernatural world, which he must investigate with the help of only a few trustworthy comrades, which would be awesome.
However, it could also mean that he’s simply going to be investigating non-supernatural crimes, which are simply dark in nature, which would still be cool, but not nearly as cool as it could be.
The east cost of the US in Poe’s time is an interesting setting, one which has rarely been explored in television and film, so the potential for a unique look at various supernatural tales from that point of view could really work out.
The ability to use the story to perhaps investigate and explain some US urban mythology and popular fantasy legends would likely play a heavy role, having Poe interact with figures like Bloody Mary or the devil of the Puritan wilderness.
Whatever they do with it, if it becomes popular it’ll be a mixed blessing for me as a Literature instructor. Anytime a literary figure becomes popular on TV or in a movie, there is an increased interest in that figure, which is great in itself, but it leaves students with a lot of wrong ideas about the figure or story.
Recently, for example, I’ve gotten more students interested in Lewis Carroll’s stories, who are then disappointed to find them not very similar to the Jonny Depp movie.
Of course, I also hear the Criminal Justice instructors complain about the many problems caused them by procedural investigation dramas, so this one will have us on a couple fronts.
If this show is successful, in a few years, I’ll start seeing freshman lit students who know most of what they know about Poe from the television. What misconceptions they will have, I wonder.