Since we appear to be delving back into my cherished childhood memories this week, I think it only appropriate to bring the following story to your attention. It caught mine — attention, that is; or throat, maybe — when it appeared in my DefinitelyNotGoogleReader™ a few days ago:
Encyclopedia Brown is getting the big-screen treatment. …Warner Bros. is in final negotiations to pick up the movie rights to the iconic children’s book series for an adaptation to be produced by Roy Lee and Howard David Deutsch.
Encyclopedia Brown is the nickname of Leroy Brown, the son of a local police chief, who runs his own detective agency out of the family’s garage. The books featured Brown, often with his friend and “bodyguard” Sally Kimball, solving various petty crimes, often committed by the local bully Bugs Meany.
I love Encyclopedia Brown. Spent hour after youthful hour with that kid, and few things gave me more pleasure than correctly deducing the case’s solution before flipping to the back of the book. (Come to think of it, just about the only thing that gives me more pleasure even to this day is the fact that Sean — #2 Son — appears to be as wholehearted a fan as I was “back in the day.”)
At the same time, the notion of figuring it out for oneself was such a fundamental part of that enjoyment, I’m not sure what a movie would have to offer. The characters are mildly entertaining, I suppose; but little more. Sobel’s true genius lay not in his artfully-crafted characters, but in concealing the solution right before your childhood eyes, and giving out just the clue(s) you needed to connect the dots for yourself. How can a movie possibly duplicate that feeling? (Maybe I should check out the blessedly short-lived, early 90′s TV show to find out how it handled the problem. Not.)
On the other hand, things could always be worse, right?
Robert Luketic was attached to a version being developed in the early 2000s, while a few years later Ridley Scott dabbled with it. Warners reportedly even tried to put together a movie in the early 1980s starring Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn.
Chevy Chase. Ridley Scott. …Yeah, I got nothin’. Except “Thank you, Lord.”
Bonus: Sobel also wrote a series called “Two Minute Mysteries,” featuring a sleuth known as Dr. Haledjian. They are similar in format, but intended for a slightly older audience. And they are awesome. Plus, Encyclopedia’s given name always cracked me up. Because Croce.