You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

ABC Re-imagining ‘Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn’ As Detective Series; What Does This Mean For Jim?

ABC Re-imagining 'Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn' As Detective Series; What Does This Mean For Jim?

Hmmm… of course, my immediate thoughts went to all the criticims of the original novel’s notions of race and identity, the character Jim (the good-hearted, moral slave, and Mark Twain’s stereotypical depictions of him), its repeated use of the word “nigger,” and more, labeling the novel racist; while on the other side, Twain scholars argue that the novel’s protagonist, and the overall message of the book, is actually anti-racist.

I think that’s a debate that continues today.

So how exactly will all that translate (if at all) to an adventure-themed TV serial that imagines Huck and Tom as young men in their 20s, running an investigative firm in steampunk New Orleans? And will it satisfy critics of the source material, or take into account the controversy over whether Huckleberry Finn is racist or anti-racist? Will Jim be repped in the series, and if so how?

Sorry, but I don’t have any answers for you… yet; I’m just giving you the information available. We’ll just have to wait and see for ourselves.

It certainly won’t be the first time Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn has been adapted for the screen (it’s happened quite a few times since the book was published in the late 1800s – from musicals, to animations, feature films, stage, and more).

And also, as if another kind of adaptation, it’s worth noting that tons of critical essays tackling its “race” matters have been written by numerous scholars.

THR reports that ABC is developing a series described as a contemporary take on Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, created by the team behind Detroit 1-8-7,  and described as “an adventure-themed reinvention that revolves around the two famed literary characters who re-meet as young men in their 20s and form an investigative firm in a bustling and steampunk New Orleans.

No word yet on when the series can be expected.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,


William Doyle

The last time you heard of me and Tom was in that book Sam Clemens wrote telling of when Jim and me flowed down the Mississippi and met up with the King and the Duke. Then Jim got captured and Tom and I had to set him free. Of course, Jim was already a freed man; Tom just neglected to mention that fact during the planning stage.

Well, we were twelve years of age when Sam wrote about that. Now Tom and I are a mite older and a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. One thing is that we’re a little bit smarter than we were. We’ve been reading a lot of books and our English has improved a little. But it wasn’t just books. Both Tom and I have traveled many miles, not always together, and travel broadens one’s outlook on life.

We went from being children to men before we knew it. Tom and Becky Thatcher never got married like everyone expected. In the summer of '54, Becky ran off with a drummer. I think he sold women’s corsets, but of that, I am not certain. We haven’t heard from her since. Judge Thatcher and Tom’s Aunt Polly both took sick and died the next year when the Cholera epidemic passed through town. Two years after that, the widow Douglas died; the doctor said it was heart failure.


OK, this idea sucks on so many levels, I won't even waste time going into them. No wonder network viewership is down if this is the best they can come up with!


The "anti-racist" deflection is one used by all apologists for bigoted slop.
There's tons of African American fictional characters. Why is it white people don't get excited about any of them, but show them a Nigga Jim and they come to life!


OK. Did folks miss the part about this taking place in New Orleans in a Steampunk universe? This show is about the same as ABC's Revenge is to the Count of Monte Cristo. It'll borrow from Twain and twist it into something very different. For all we know, Jim will turn into Jemma, Tom & Huck's go-to technical wizard.


You know as awful as it sounds, it actually is not that far-fetched. Mark Twain actually wrote detective sequels to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn but they are mostly forgotten for being… well terrible. Literary history is often kind enough to only remember an author's classics and not their misfires.


This falls into the huge category of "Hollywood can only scrape up a budget to do what studio executives want to do". Money can be scraped up to shoot a pilot for a book that was published so long ago that no one who was alive when it was originally published is still alive, but finding money to create a couple of pilots on a major network (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc. outside of Shonda Rhimes's work) can not be scraped up. Studios want audiences to believe that there is more interest in a book from the 1800's than there is in audiences wanting to see people who reflect the audience members themselves on screen.

Adam Scott Thompson

I guess I can fathom it: "They call me MIS-TER JIM!!!"

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *