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October 9, 2015

Robinson Crusoe pilot coming to NBC

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 25th 2008 2:40PM
brosan as crusoeNBC is going classic, with a twist. The network has ordered 13 episodes of a new drama series based on the Daniel Defoe classic Robinson Crusoe. This is far from the first time Defoe's 1719 novel has been filmed. The most recent incarnation was a 1997 Pierce Brosnan feature. In 1964, it was the basis for a French TV series.

This version is going to be a new take on the old story of a man who sets sail from England, his ship is wrecked in a storm and he's thrown overboard winding up alone on a deserted island where he has to fen for himself. In time, he is joined by an escaped slave whom he names Friday. Ben Silverman, NBC's head honcho, described the proposed series in this way: "It's part MacGyver, part contemporary morality tale about race and personal discovery, part comedy and part Castaway meets Survivor." As envisioned, this Robinson Crusoe will need to be clever indeed. It's going to keep the time period 1650's, but when Crusoe finds Friday, he'll presumably be treating him as if it were today with regard to race relations.

Silverman and his team came up with the idea of revamping Defoe's novel in a brainstorming session where The Last of the Mohicans, Sleeping Beauty and other classics were considered. Reportedly, we may be seeing a David and Goliath and a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde soon. No word on whether the former will be done in Claymation, if at all.

NBC and the producers for Robinson Crusoe are pumping mucho dinero into the project, somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 million for the 13 episodes. The series could be ready by fall 2008, but depending on how things progress, the network may hold it for mid-season 2009.

In addition to that 1964 French series, Robinson Crusoe has had numerous film verisons. My personal favorite is Robinson Crusoe on Mars with Paul Mantee and Adam -- pre-Batman -- West. On the heels of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dick starred in a Disney-fication of the story called Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. in 1966. Aidan Quinn was Crusoe in a Caleb Deschanel feature in 1989. Then there was Dan O'Herlihy as Robinson in 1954, Stanley Baker in 1974, and an uppity Peter O'Toole in the role in a 1975 film called Man Friday.

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1: I already watch Lost. This series will never approach the breadth and depth of it. At best it could be an edgy Gilligan's Island.

2: Why should I watch anything NBC puts out when it will most likely be cancelled and replaced by a reality show? No Thanks!

February 26 2008 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How are they going to keep this interesting if there are only two characters? I doubt they're going to make the island into a 'character' because then they'll just be copying LOST. How is this any different than the book?

February 26 2008 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm curious as to how they will shoot him getting nekkid to swin to the boat and then filling his pockets with biscuits before swimming back to the beach.

February 25 2008 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AHA! NBC finally has an answer to LOST. I wish NBC would stop with all the remakes. Then again all their original programming sucks too.

February 25 2008 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the word for applying contemporary thought towards historical fiction is "presentism". At least that is what Diana Gabaldon calls it.

This particular series seems worth a look.

February 25 2008 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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