I continue to be struck by how many people come across my blog looking for word about a new Dirk Pitt movie--and the strong feelings that some fans have on the subject.
I've already got in my two cents about the problems Sahara faced, and the challenges facing anyone trying to take a third crack at a Dirk Pitt movie franchise. However, recently I found myself thinking--what about a Dirk Pitt TV show instead?
The blend of maritime-flavored action-adventure and historical mystery has an obvious attraction, and Dirk, Al, the Admiral and the rest have the capacity to win an audience. And if successful, a Dirk Pitt series could easily be turned into a multi-show franchise with relative ease, given the abundance of material, and built-in audiences, for them--the NUMA Files books (of which there are thirteen as of this year) and the Oregon Files (ten books) for a start.
Still, just as with the films, much of the material is problematic. The producers could not easily shoot a story today where old Nazis menace the world, for example. And the handling of issues like immigration in Treasure or Flood Tide could come across like provocations. Additionally, one of the most attractive features of Cussler's novels is their extensive international travel and spectacular action sequences, which would be costly. In fact, they might not be able to do justice to the action with even the most lavish of TV budgets.
However, a single problematic episode is a much smaller risk than writing such tales into films, while many of the stories afford some scope for updating or polishing. Indeed, the filmmakers could limit themselves to taking the basics of the set-up (NUMA, the lead characters), and building up their own episode plots from scratch with carefully selected items from the books. And if the producers displayed sufficient ingenuity with the action the series could satisfy on that level, especially if its presentation of its stories and characters was intriguing (perhaps developing season-long arcs out of the more readily modified books).
In short, the odds on such a show seem better. Still, a show would face at least one major obstacle in the way of a new Dirk Pitt film, the biggest of all--the specter of Cussler's fight with the makers of Sahara. And the prospect of anything like that legal battle is enough to make the project a non-starter.
My Posts on the Dirk Pitt Series