HBO’s Very Own ‘Homeland,’ And Other Promising Shows The Network Has In Development

Senior Pop Culture Editor
10.24.12 21 Comments

After a very strong, occasionally spectacular season one, Showtime’s Homeland, the winner of the 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, is having an even better second season. It’s torpedoing through plots in a way other shows would have spent entire seasons on, and while it might hurt the series in the long run, it’s been a thrilling four episodes so far. With no due respect to Brotherhood, it still feels odd writing something so complimentary about a Showtime drama; all that praise usually goes to the network’s older, wiser, sexier rival, HBO. But in a rare reversal, big bro picked up a show that sounds awfully familiar to baby bro’s Homeland.

In a case of a pitch garnering interest from broadcast, basic cable and pay cable networks, a drama from writer David Hubbard (Noel) has landed at HBO. The project, titled The Return of Daniel Shepherd, tells the story of a family thrown into disarray when their son returns home after 13 years missing. When his abductors turn up murdered, he is the prime suspect. That further shrouds the mystery surrounding this family: the boy’s father, a former FBI operative-turned-college criminology teacher; his mother, a stay-at-home-mom-turned-congresswoman; and his fraternal twin brother. (Via)

But will there be neck snapping? I hope there’s neck snapping. Despite Daniel Shepherd sounding like a jumbled collection of Homeland traits — son missing for years vs. father missing for years, congresswoman vs. congressman, murder vs. MURDER — I will watch any show that involves either HBO or the word “disarray.” (I hope things are topsy, but NOT turvy.) In the past year or so, HBO has picked up a number of intriguing sounding shows, so much so that they’re tough to keep track of. Here’s a helpful reminder of 10 of the most interesting.

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Author Jennifer Egan has closed a deal with HBO to develop her [Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad] into a TV series. The book was published last summer by Knopf and slowly built a head of steam. It focuses on a coterie of characters first introduced as they orbit the world of punk rock in 1980s San Francisco. Their lives are explored for the next 30 or so years, with interlocking stories that deal as much with changes in the lives of the characters as it does changes in technology. (Via)

American Gods

After the continuing success of Game of Thrones, HBO is planning yet another high-profile fantasy series. American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel [about gods of ancient mythology existing in present-day America], is currently in development. Production duties will fall to Playtone, the production company started by Tom Hanks. The series is currently being planned out in no less than six seasons of 10-12 episodes each. The budget for each season will be in the $40 million range, with a heavy emphasis on CG. The earliest that American Gods would grace the airwaves would be 2013. (Via)

Buda Bridge

Michael R. Roskam, who got a Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar nomination last year for his Belgian film Bullhead, is at the center of a new HBO pilot script order, one which teams him with Michael Mann and Breaking Bad executive producer Mark Johnson. HBO has ordered a pilot script for a drama titled Buda Bridge, a Belgian-set crime story that takes place in Brussels in the near future. It unfolds when a woman is found dead on Buda Bridge, which leads to a series of violent crimes and strange science that bring mayhem to the dark capital of the European state. (Via)

Criminal Justice

The Sopranos star James Gandolfini is a step closer to returning to HBO‘s drama lineup with a starring role in the network’s Criminal Justice. HBO has given a pilot order to the drama project, written by Oscar nominee Richard Price (The Color of Money) and to be directed by Oscar-wining writer Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List). Criminal Justice is a New York-set crime drama loosely based on the acclaimed 2008 BBC series of the same name created by Peter Moffat. Joining the ensemble cast led by Gandolfini are Rizwan Ahmed, Bill Camp, Peyman Moadi and Poorna Jagannathan. (Via)

Family Tree

Written and created by Christopher Guest and frequent collaborator Jim Piddock and to be be directed by Guest, Family Tree is a documentary-style comedy in the style of Guest’s films, which follows the world and journey of 30-year-old Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd). Having recently lost his job and girlfriend, Tom has a rather unsure sense of his own identity. But when he inherits a mysterious box of belongings from a great aunt that he never met, he starts investigating his family lineage and uncovers a whole world of unusual stories and characters and a growing sense of who he is and who his real family are. (Via)


Darren Aronofsky has come on board an HBO drama series project, which has been in development at the pay cable network for the past several months. Titled Hobgoblin, the drama is being written by the husband-and-wife duo of Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman and sounds like Inglourious Basterds with magicians. It revolves around a group of con men and magicians using their skills of deception to help defeat Hitler during World War II. (Via)

The Leftovers

In his first TV series project since Lost, Damon Lindelof is heading to HBO for The Leftovers, a drama based on Tom Perrotta’s 2011 book, which the two will co-write together. This marks the first foray into cable for the Lost executive producer/co-showrunner and the first project under the rich three-year overall deal he recently signed with Warner Bros TV. The Leftovers, produced by HBO in association with WBTV, takes place after the Rapture happens but not quite like it’s supposed to. It is the story of the people who didn’t make the cut… and a world that will never be the same. (Via)

True Detective

True Detective, an eight-part event drama series project starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, has landed at HBO with a straight-to-series order. True Detective is described as an elevated serial narrative with multiple perspectives and time frames. It centers on two detectives, Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson), whose lives collide and entwine during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. The investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from the detectives in 2012, when the case has been reopened. The concept is for the 8-episode first season to resolve the mystery at hand, with subsequent seasons using same structure but new characters and story. (Via)

Untitled Charlie Kaufman Project

In a competitive situation, a half-hour comedy starring Oscar nominee Catherine Keener and to be written and directed by Oscar winner Charlie Kaufman has landed at HBO, which has put it on fast-track development. The untitled comedy is described as an exploration of one day in a woman’s life and how the events leading up to it can affect, or not, the reality in which she lives. Kaufman is executive producing; Keener serves as producer. (Via)

(Via Deadline)

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