Fresh on the heels of the shock announcement that Rebellion Productions and IM Global have struck a deal to produce Judge Dredd: Mega City One, a television show based on the Judge Dredd series running in 2000AD, we at Pop Culture Bandit have come up with a “wish list” of things that we want to see in this show.
In no particular order:
Mean Machine Angel
Arguably, one of the highlights of the 1995 Judge Dredd movie was the fleeting appearance of Mean Machine Angel during the Cursed Earth section of the film. One of the more visually interesting members of Dredd’s “rogue’s gallery”, Mean offers Dredd a physical challenge and could be a fun recurring character alongside the rest of the Angel gang. Able to swing from broad comedy to ultra-violence within the span of a few panels in the comic, Mean Machine provides writers the opportunity to experiment with the tone of the show.
Not all criminals who appear in Judge Dredd: Mega City One need to be bad, and Marlon “Chopper” Shakespeare represents rebellion against the tyranny of the Judge’s rule. Less politically-biting than Total War and America Beeny, Chopper’s story allows writers to showcase the Judges in a different light, moving from protectors to oppressors depending on the perspective. As a sky-surfer and graffiti artist, Chopper also allows the TV show to showcase Mega City One from the sky, and if the budget allows, there could be some beautiful aerial shots and action sequences as a result. I mean, who wouldn’t love to see a Supersurf race realised on-screen?
So far, Judge Death has yet to feature in a live-action Judge Dredd production, with most of the adaptations rooted in a somewhat grounded science-fiction setting. Introducing Death into the mix instantly adds a more supernatural element to proceedings, so it’s not something that should be rushed. Perhaps a slow-burn “season-long” mystery would suit Death better, perhaps he could be a mysterious shadowy figure before he is revealed in his full glory. It would be fantastic to see him finally brought to life (if you pardon the pun) and his hissing voice would haunt the dreams of viewers long after the show ends. Ideally, the other Dark Judges should be introduced at a later date to maximise impact.
Chief Judge Cal
Another iconic villain from Judge Dredd’s past, and possibly a timely analogy for the current political climate, the Judge Cal storyline would showcase corruption in the Justice Department and offer the series the opportunity to feature a Machiavellian plot that culminates in a total collapse of the Justice Department. Best served on a slow boil, the Judge Cal character could be initially friendly but revealed as a complete power-mad maniac over time. If you have Cal, though, you must have Judge Fish – an integral part of Cal’s madness…
One of the final tests that a Cadet Judge must endure is the “hot-dog run”, a trip into the Cursed Earth that forces them to put all of their skills to the test. Rather than the sprawling odyssey of “The Cursed Earth Saga”, perhaps a short hot-dog run scenario could be the focus of an episode to show viewers what lies behind the walls of Mega-City One. It would be an opportunity to let the imagination run wild and go full-Mad Max with muties, desert chases and possibly even, Dune Sharks?
Another defining moment in Judge Dredd’s early history is the return of his clone brother, Rico Dredd. Obviously, this storyline played a huge part in the Stallone movie, but it could be revisited all these years later and handled more akin to the comics. If writers want to get to the human side of Dredd, then the “Return of Rico” story is a must! Torn between blood and duty, this would allow writers to explore the character and develop him beyond his “I am the Law” persona – besides, how awesome would the Titan face-treatment look on-screen!
Walter the Robot
While some might consider Walter the Robot to be one of the kitschy aspects from Dredd’s early years, I think the concept could be retooled and used for comic relief. Ageing better than Maria the Landlady and Max Normal, the pinstripe freak, I think this would be a fun nod to long-time fans and an opportunity to feature the robotics and technology of Dredd’s world – it could also be a precursor to the Robot Uprising should the series chose to head in that direction.
One of the more recent additions to the mythology, Dirty Frank is beloved amongst the 2000AD fanbase and would be an interesting supporting character, possibly replacing Max Normal in the “informant” role. As an undercover Judge, Dirty Frank would also help showcase the hierarchy within the Justice Department and allow for different types of stories. Depending on whether the series intends to have more of a procedural style or not, Frank could also be a recurring ‘partner’ for Dredd to help source information.
Pairing Dredd with Anderson worked well in Dredd, and I think the PSI-department would help distinguish Judge Dredd: Mega City One from other ‘sci-fi police’ series. I liked the dynamic from Dredd, with Anderson appearing in a rookie role, although it would be nice if she could retain more of her personality from the comics and challenge Dredd more. As with the comics, Anderson is such a complex and interesting character, the writers could easily spin her off into her own series or do episodes focused on her instead of Dredd. The same is true for DeMarco and Hershey – there is no shortage of strong, female characters to be featured.
Depending on the success of Judge Dredd: Mega City One, there might be the potential to sow the seeds of another series in the same way that Arrow spawned The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. My suggestion would be to feature time-travelling bounty hunter in an episode, reminiscent of the first comic-book crossover episode “Top Dog” and that may lead us towards a Strontium Dog series one day. Johnny Alpha is a brilliant character and I love the way he has developed a grudging respect from Dredd over the numerous cross-over tales. With mutants established in the current timeline, it would be feasible to have Alpha appear as a mutant from the future without much need to delve into his own back history until a spin-off series.
So, that’s our initial list of recommendations for the Judge Dredd: Mega-City One TV show, although it’s merely a toe-dip in the Black Atlantic. Comment below with your own suggestions and ideas for the show, and remember to follow 2000AD and Judge Dredd: Mega-City One on Twitter for more news and updates about the series as it enters production.