Well, this is crazy kind of news. Rebellion, the publishers of 2000AD, have announced the creation of Judge Dredd: Mega City One, a new TV series based around the British sci-fi comic’s legendary figure.
Dredd, of course, is the famed “lawman of the future”, created by John Wagner, Pat Mills and Carlos Ezquerra in the late 1970s. Intended as a satirical take on ultraviolent cop movies – essentially Dirty Harry taken to a logical extreme – Dredd’s adventures take place in the fictional Mega-City One, a sprawling metropolis on the East Coast of the USA, itself packed with a wide variety of unusual (and often absurd) figures.
The character has appeared onscreen twice before – in the Danny Cannon-directed, Sylvester Stallone-starring, critically and commercially unsuccessful Judge Dredd (1995); and played by Karl Urban in Pete Travis and Alex Garland’s Dredd in 2012. The latter film also struggled at the box office, but became an immediate cult hit – and was largely beloved by fans of the character, particularly for Urban’s portrayal, even though budgetary restrictions meant the film’s action was limited in scope to a single tower block.
Mega City One, however, is expected to take a much wider approach – serving, you’d expect, as a police procedural dealing with multiple characters and cases across the city. There’s an awful lot of scope in Dredd lore to do this kind of story, even without having to do something in the style of big epics such as The Cursed Earth and Dark Judges – you only have to look at the kind of vignettes Garth Ennis was doing in the early ’90s, or some of the original Wagner short stories, to see the potential.
“We’re very excited to be beginning the journey to get more of Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One on the television screen,” say Jason and Chris Kingsley of Rebellion. “Thanks to the legions of fans who have kept up pressure on social media, and a lot of background work and enthusiasm, we aim to make a big budget production that will satisfy both our vast comics audience and the even greater general screen-watching public.”
The question is, will this even actually happen? It doesn’t have a broadcast partner lined up at present, and even if telling small-scale stories you’d have to imagine it would need a pretty hefty budget to really work. And do they possibly have a chance of getting Urban involved? The actor has a huge affection for Dredd and has repeatedly stated his willingness to return in some form, but whether or not they could actually get him remains in question.
Nevertheless, if this happens as Rebellion have described it, then we’d have reason to be optimistic about it – there’s a rich seam of potential in the concept, and so long as the satirical element remained in place (something both previous screen iterations have lacked) it could be something really entertaining. Watch this space.