For the most part, FX has kept its original series contemporary. The Americans was set in the 1980s, but the network hasn’t often picked up projects that are costume dramas (except for The Bastard Executioner, and we all know how that went). That will change, though, with the announcement of a Shōgun limited series, announced by FX CEO John Landgraf during the TV Critics Association summer press tour. The 10-episode series will be based on James Clavell’s bestselling novel, with Andrew Macdonald, Michael De Luca, and Michaela Clavell serving as EPs alongside Tim Van Patten, who will also direct multiple episodes. Van Patten, whose credits include The Pacific and The Sopranos, will be joined by fellow Boardwalk Empire alumnus Eugene Kelly, who is writing the series with Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies).
Landgraf said in a statement that, “The story of Shōgun has captivated audiences since James Clavell first released his epic novel more than 40 years ago. The themes of an outsider encountering a new culture are as relevant today as then. We are honored to bring the series to today’s viewers through our partnership with executive producers Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Michael De Luca, Clavell’s daughter Michaela, and Eugene Kelly. We are equally thrilled that Ronan Bennett and Rachel Bennette are writing the new adaption, and that Tim Van Patten will bring his vision and expertise to directing this saga of adventure, power and loyalty that the world has come to know as Shōgun.”
According to a press release, “Shōgun, set in feudal Japan, charts the collision of two ambitious men from different worlds and a mysterious female samurai: John Blackthorne, a risk-taking English sailor who ends up shipwrecked in Japan, a land whose unfamiliar culture will ultimately redefine him; Lord Toranaga, a shrewd, powerful daimyo, at odds with his own dangerous, political rivals; and Lady Mariko, a woman with invaluable skills but dishonorable family ties, who must prove her value and allegiance.”
The novel, which was published in 1975, was an international bestseller and sparked a new interest in Japanese culture by the West. It was adapted into a TV miniseries on NBC in 1980, which was a hit both with audiences and with Emmy voters. Given FX’s quality of original series overall, one suspects that will once again be the case.