William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic To Be A TV Series

johnny mnemonicCanada make great genre TV.  Recently, we’ve had Orphan Black, which wears American skin on its bones but has a Canuck heart. Continuum started up again on Canadian TV this week. And previous winners included Eerie, Indiana, which was made by Global. I guess they’re just good at it.

I’m hopeful, then, about plans for a new TV version of Johnny Mnemonic. William Gibson‘s wonderful short story* has proven very influential – there’s a central plot point on loan to the upcoming Elysium, in fact, though nobody seems to be speaking about it. Yet.

Back in the mid-90s, Johnny Mnemonic was adapted into a feature by the artist and music video director Robert Longo. Though that version had a screenplay by Gibson himself, and pre-empted The Matrix by casting Keanu Reeves, it’s not particularly well remembered. Personally, I’m kind of fond of it, though I can see that it didn’t really work well enough. If you’ve never seen it, here’s the popular highpoint, showing Reeves at work on the ‘net.

Interestingly, the press release announcing the new show states that it’s based on this film, and not on the original short story. They promise:

a futuristic television series based on the cult classic movie starring Keanu Reeves, adapted from a short story by celebrated science-fiction author William Gibson.

Cult classic?

The distinction could mean a number of things, but most likely is the omission of Molly Millions, a character that Gibson later revisited in his novel Neuromancer, and who proved to be possibly the most popular of his creations. In the film she was replaced by a character called Jane who… well, she didn’t have the same attitude, or look, or popularity. Not Dina Meyer‘s fault.

Work on the TV show is underway with –

well-known television writers who were part of the successful Stargate series

– but we don’t know which ones.

Incidentally, the great Canadian director Vincenzo Natali is the man attached to make a feature film version of Neuromancer happen. I do think he’s the man for the job, and so I hope progress on that project is forthcoming. Maybe a successful Johnny Mnemonic show will help?

*First published in the issue of Omni in the image at the head of the story.

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