Philip Marlowe back in action
Marlowe is no stranger to the silver screen or the boob tube. He has been played by plenty of heavy hitters - Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Elliot Gould, James Garner and Powers Boothe. In the ABC version, Marlowe will be getting a 21st century make-over. The show - called Marlowe - will be a "present-day procedural crime drama with noir aspects...set in Los Angeles." That's the part that brought about my "trepidation." Why turn Chandler's rich terrain filled with eccentric characters into yet another lame "procedural?"
In my mind, the best contemporary takes on Chandler have been the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski, an extremely savvy and intentional nod to Chandler's ambling style, Hollywood setting and colorful characters; the film Brick with its fast-talking, tough-nosed teens; the graphic novel version of Chandler's screenplay Playback; and Angel, which in its first season was basically a noir set in LA featuring a celibate, loner P.I. What we do know of ABC's Marlowe doesn't include an iota of this kind of originality. There's no point in condemning a project that hasn't even gotten off the ground yet. The producers have an order for three scripts, but the pilots is far from being in the works. Regardless, ABC would be wise to take a note from House's creative team, which effectively updated its own literary template - Sherlock Holmes.