Programming

The Watchman: Hulu’s Heroic Time-Traveling Janitor

SundanceTV re-examines 'In Cold Blood' murders 11/13/2017 8:00 AM Eastern
Hulu's "Future Man" premieres Nov. 14.
TakeAway

Contributing editor Michael Malone’s look at the programming scene, Nov. 13, 2017

If you’re looking for a series that boldly straddles the line between comedy and genre, that show may just be Future Man, which starts on Hulu Nov. 14. Josh Hutcherson of The Hunger Games plays a janitor by day/gamer by night who is recruited to travel through time to prevent the extinction of mankind.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg executive-produce. So does Ben Karlin, who said Future Man is far more than a spoof of time-travel fantasy. “We really take the genre part of it quite seriously,” he said.

The Future Man brain trust has been wracking their brains, trying to come up with a TV series that balances comedy with genre elements, such as stunts and special effects. “I don’t think, in the history of half-hour television, anything like this has been attempted before,” Karlin said.

Formerly of The Daily Show, Karlin produced the cancer comedy film 50/50 with Rogen and Goldberg, and said the trio has made a habit of reading each others’ stuff. Karlin had a development deal with ABC that he describes as “challenging and frustrating.” Future Man is way more in his wheelhouse than broadcast comedies.

Hulu’s big win at the Emmys, with The Handmaid’s Tale snagging best drama, makes it a more attractive destination for producers. “It’s really nice to be able to come on after that,” Karlin said.

Touching quite a few different emotions than Future Man, Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders starts on SundanceTV Nov. 18. It is directed and produced by Joe Berlinger, and is an homage to Truman Capote’s iconoclastic 1966 bestseller In Cold Blood. “I’ve always been obsessed with his book,” Berlinger said. “It’s the first time I read a required book for school, then went back and read it again and again.”

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Berlinger, whose films include 1992’s Brother’s Keeper, about an alleged murder in central New York, said In Cold Blood motivated him to be a filmmaker. “I consciously try to evoke, in filmic terms, what Capote did in his book,” Berlinger said.

Cold Blooded is an intriguing close-up of both the Clutter family and the murderers, who met in prison. Berlinger said it took a lot of convincing for remaining members of the family to help out. The hustle paid off. “The family contributed photos and diaries that no one has seen before,” he said.

Watch SundanceTV's 'Cold Blooded' Trailer

Berlinger said he believes Serial, Making a Murderer and the rest of today’s true-crime standouts owe the same debt he’s paying. “They all trace back,” he said, “to an explosion called In Cold Blood.”

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