Remember when TV was viewed as an inferior medium to film? It wasn’t that long ago that no right-thinking cinema person would ever consider plying their talents on the idiot box. Sure, there were exceptions: Alfred Hitchcock hosted an anthology series, but that was a classy affair; David Lynch did Twin Peaks, but he’s always been unpredictable.
In recent years, though, this has changed: Martin Scorsese started a trend with period gangster drama Boardwalk Empire, sparking off the likes of David Fincher and House of Cards, Gus Van Sant’s Boss (featuring a mould-breaking performance from Kelsey Grammar), and Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake.
Campion herself has described TV as “the new frontier, which means a lot coming from a winner of the Palm D’Or. Meanwhile, Peter Jackson has expressed interest in directing an episode of Doctor Who, suggesting the Daleks vs. the New Zealand All Blacks as a possible plot (no joke).
As such, we’ve come up with a list of five other film directors we’d like to see take on episodes in already established shows. David Lynch’s Teletubbies, for instance, might sound improbable – the show’s been off the air since 2001 – but whoever expected him to end up designing woman’s sportswear?
5. Tim Burton (American Horror Story: Freak Show)
Burton’s oeuvre has tended towards the darkly quirky rather than the outright horrifying, but is there anyone more adept at showcasing the plight of improbable social misfits? From Edward Scissorhands to Dark Shadows by way of Ed Wood – yes, there’s been a lot of Johnny Depp – Burton has taken us inside the worlds of the sort of people you’d probably, on first glance, cross the street to avoid… and he’s made us love them.
The newest season of Ryan Murphy’s grotesque horror anthology takes place in a circus circa 1950-something and concerns a cavalcade of malformed individuals. Who better to delve into their lives and illuminate their humanity than the director behind Big Fish?
4. Mehreen Jabbar (Homeland)
There’s a distinct lack of non-white, non-male voices on TV, often on the shows most in need of them. Homeland is just such a show, a political thriller whose characters are intimately concerned with the affairs of the Middle East which nevertheless seems lacking in Middle Eastern writers and directors, despite being based on an Israeli series.
Mereen Jabbar’s feature debut, Ramchand Pakistani, told the real-life story about tensions along the India-Pakistan border and the impact these have upon a family who lives close by. With Claire Danes’ Carrie headed to Islamabad in the new season, the involvement of Pakistani native Jabbar would certainly help Homeland to feel like more than just a genre piece.
3. Christopher Nolan (Black Mirror)
Probably the biggest film director in the world today, Christopher Nolan has gone from strength to strength, most recently investing himself in the science fiction genre with the likes of Inception and the upcoming Interstellar. Famed for his deeply symbolic, twisty-turny narratives, the only thing the 44-year-old Brit is yet to dazzle us with is comedy: say what you want about The Dark Knight Rises, it was definitely a bit po-faced.
As such, taking on one of Charlie Brooker’s razor-sharp dystopian satires would be the perfect opportunity to prove that Nolan can make us laugh as well as think, and take on a new medium while doing it.
2. Paul Greengrass (Community)
Now we’ve escaped from the darkest timeline and our favourite community college-based comedy has been saved from the scrapheap, we don’t feel too bad speculating about its future. Show-runner Dan Harmon has always shown as willingness to go out on a limb creatively with whole episodes devoted to paintball or Goodfellas homages.
One of the few tropes the show’s yet to really play around with is the found footage genre – and that’s despite Abed’s ongoing aspiration to become a filmmaker. Captain Phillips‘ Paul Greengrass is, of course, the cinema vérité, and, you know what, stranger things have happened at Greendale.
5. Quentin Tarantino (Justified)
The Reservoir Dogs helmsman already has experience of working on someone else’s show: he directed the season five finale of CSI and was nominated for an Emmy.
Justified, which follows Timothy Olyphant’s rule-averse US Marshall, Raylan Givens, is based on a number of stories by Elmore Leonard, whose work Tarantino previously adapted in the form of Jackie Brown. Tarantino has an affinity for criminal types and a definite handle on the show’s laconic Leonard-style dialogue; now that the show is entering its sixth and final season, they could do a lot worse than a writer-director of Tarantino’s caliber.
But what do you think? Would you like to see Nolan take on another show or do you think we’ve missed a perfect opportunity for a different show-director match-up? Sound off in the comments section!