Fifteen years ago, when I finished reading Patrick O’Brian’s magisterial 20-novel Aubrey-Maturin series for the first time, I remember thinking, damn you, Horatio Hornblower. C.S. Forester’s renowned nautical protagonist was at the time enjoying the starring role in the British TV series Hornblower, and given the close similarities to O’Brian’s oeuvre—both concern the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic era—it seemed unlikely bordering on inconceivable that anyone would try to adapt the latter for television.
Mr. Orr is correct that such a series would be expensive, but also likely quite remunerative. As an added bonus, HMS Surprise, Lucky Jack Aubrey’s favorite frigate, has just come out of a refit in San Diego.
British television shows tend to run for about 90 minutes, and have four episodes a season. That’s a format very well suited for telling the story of a single novel. In essence, they make a book into a six hour movie.
While it’s unlikely any US network would adapt that format, I suspect it would be difficult to make a very strong adaptation of any single novel in the normal US hour long episode. Perhaps a 13 episode season could tell three novels?
Assuming Crowe and Bettany are out, who would you like to see as the seafaring compatriots?