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.

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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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