Last year the long-time production company of most of del Toro’s projects, Legendary Pictures, acquired a script for the series to be called Carnival Row. The script was written by past collaborator Travis Beacham, who constructed the script for del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Alongside is screenwriter René Echevarria who is known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, more specifically the episode “The Offspring” where Data creates his own child.
Guillermo will be fully involved in directing the Carnival Row pilot before continuing production of Pacific Rim 2 and finishing post-production for his upcoming horror film Crimson Peak. Originally, Carnival Row was intended to be a feature film centered around this script, but with the format of television pushing with strength towards the fantasy and horror genres pieces were moved around to allow the show to fit within a TV format. In addition to writing the initial screenplay which was at first labeled “A Killing on Carnival Row”, Beacham will ride along as the showrunner.
No stranger to the fantastical, gothic, and noir, del Toro’s involvement in Carnival Row will take Beacham’s script of a shaded Victorian-era environment populated with fairies, humans, and the chilling creatures that inhabit Guillermo’s imagination.
Audiences can perhaps expect the gloomy and dismal tones from del Toro’s film debut Cronos to seep into the direction of this new series, but with the mention of mid-to-deep-fantasy being at the nucleus of the project it wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect parallels to his critically successful film Pan’s Labyrinth. Within Pan’s Labyrinth lies everything quintessentially Guillermo del Toro. His creative identity and motivated artistic vision utterly shine through the film.
But with the plot being outlined as a “detective who finds himself at the center of an investigation into the murder of mythical creatures,” it would be impossible to ignore del Toro’s involvement in the Hellboy universe. The striking similarities to the titular character’s involvement in the organization labeled the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense or B.P.R.D. (a group that focuses on investigating, befriending, and protecting the world from the supernatural and paranormal), one could almost take it as Carnival Row being inspired by creator Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D. and other paranormal investigator’s within its lore such as Lobster Johnson.
While del Toro’s television debut is still entirely fresh with his self-created project The Strain, which is his only television feature since his late-80’s debut in La Hora Marcada (a Mexican science fiction show inspired by The Twilight Zone.) he has been busy tackling the trend of vampires featured in fiction in a classically brutal way through The Strain. Guillermo’s vampires are ugly, mean beasts, as are most characters in del Toro’s works.
While Amazon might be a currently terrible path for an inspired television show to take root, what with Netflix or even The Strain’s home of FX as more seemingly reasonable options for exposure, the online format will still most likely give Guillermo and his showrunners the creative freedom to go to the dark places they need to. If readers want a taste on what to expect from a show like Carnival Row, they can find zesty appetizers within the themes and production of The Strain, or especially the upcoming film Crimson Peak.
If that doesn’t give enough definition of the type of menu that Guillermo del Toro has, it must be discerned that the Amazon audiences can expect a palette-mashing of the pacing and setup from Cronos, the fantasy overworld of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, the premise of Mignola’s B.P.R.D., with the freedom in tone of The Strain.
Despite the ugliness of having to distribute Carnival Row through Amazon streaming services, fans of both Guillermo and modern television can take solace in the fact he is beginning to pour his inspired work into the successful TV format. There are no current timetables on when to expect access to that content.