Critics have hailed the last twelve or so years as the new golden age of television, and while that might be a bit over the top, there’s no denying that television is especially good right now. With the recent announcement of a Jack Parsons series moving ever closer to reality could we be on the cusp of a new golden age of occult tv?
We’ve got the stories that would make for some captivating television, all we need is for some TV execs to realize it (and then to hire me, cough cough, as a technical advisor). What follows are my picks for what would result in some outstanding television. All kinds of things got left off of this list, so I’m well aware of that there are literally dozens more stories from our past that would make for some great shows. And if you don’t see Crowley on here it’s because his life really needs to be turned into a movie!
So here are four TV pitches from me, complete with some early casting! Enjoy!
TV Show Name: Magic Rising
Based On: The rise and fall of the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
The Pitch: The Golden Dawn emerged in the early 1890’s and very quickly took the occult world by storm, but by the early 1900’s the original order was in ashes. Magic Rising tells the story of how this secretive order came together and attracted some of the most famous people in British history (figures such as William Butler Yeats, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Florence Farr, and Bram Stoker), before falling apart less than a decade after its founding.
At the heart of Magic Rising is a secret shared by the Golden Dawn’s three founders, a secret that will eventually tear them apart, but not before changing the magical world forever. Starring Paul Bettany (The Avengers: Age of Ulton) as Samuel MacGregor-Mathers and Taron Egerton as Aleister Crowley (The Kingsman) Magic Rising featuring some of the most intriguing personalities to ever wield a magic wand.
Why This Would Work: Seriously, the history of the Golden Dawn is just awesome. It was full of big personalities, personal squabbles, and the kind of conflict that TV viewers love. Who doesn’t want to see Aleister Crowley show up in a mask attempting to throw Yeats and his supporters out of the London Temple? The Golden Dawn also had some very strong women involved, hell you could just base a show around Florence Farr, Monia Mathers, and Annie Horniman. This would be the show I always wanted Penny Dreadful to be.
TV Show Name: The Rosicrucian
Based On: The life and adventures of American occultist Paschal Beverley Randolph
The Pitch: Paschal Beverley Randolph was one of the most extraordinary men in American history. A man of color he overcame the racist attitudes of his day to found the first Rosicrucian order in the United States and become a medical doctor. He was also a pioneer in the practice of sex magic, in addition to being a Master Mason, a spiritualist, and a trance medium.
During his lifetime Randolph visited every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica, and wrote dozens of books. He was also a friend of Abraham Lincoln and was on the train that took the fallen President’s back to Illinois for burial. Randolph eventually died from what authorities claimed was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, though Randolph’s friends and followers would claim he was a victim of murder. Idris Alba stars.
Why This Would Work: Randolph’s life was so interesting that a series about him could realistically run for decades, but for television we’d probably condense the best parts into a six or seven year series. Notice how Randolph practiced sex magic, there’s nothing that HBO loves more than exposition and boobs (see Game of Thrones), so this should be right up their alley. Did you know Randolph spent some time in Paris and became master of a Masonic lodge there? That’s a whole season on its own. Let’s get this done.
TV Show Name: The Education of a Witch
Based On: The early life and adventures of Gerald Gardner
The Pitch: Gerald Gardner is widely hailed as one of the founders of the Modern Witchcraft movement, but what about his life before Witchcraft? Gardner spent the prime years of his life working on rubber plantations in places like Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, all while studying the customs and religious beliefs of the indigenous peoples there. With his wife Donna, Gardner travelled the world before finally returning his native England and establishing his own Witch-cult.
The Education of a Witch is about more than the adventures of the Gardners, it’s also a love story chronicling their whirlwind courtship and how a couple comes together as husband and wife after only knowing each other for a few days. Witch stars Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Gerald Gardner and Gemma Arterton (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) as Donna Gardner
Why This Would Work: Think of this show as the Gotham of Witchcraft. As Gardner travels around the world he continually runs into things that would later be adopted into his Witch practice. I know of course that it all didn’t happen this way, but it’s television! The end of season two could end with Gardner casting a circle with a Malaysian kries (knife) as the credits role. Gardner visited all sorts of exotic locals and had all kinds of different esoteric and occult experiences while doing so, and it would make for great television. Perhaps the final season could end with Gardner moving back to England and show him walking into the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship?
TV Show Name: Firechild: The Story of Maxine Sanders
Based On: The life of Maxine Sanders, taken from her book Fire Child
The Pitch: Set in the late 1960’s Firechild chronicles the adventures of Maxine Sanders (Emilia Clarke), one of Great Britain’s most well known public Witches. As the series begins Maxine is just beginning to adjust to and understand her magical gifts. How is that she can leave her body and see events as they are happening?
In addition to her blossoming psychic abilities, Maxine also find herself being recruited by a secret Egyptian magical order. Just what do these people want from her and do they have her best intentions in mind? At the end of the first season Maxine’s mother brings home a mysterious stranger named Alex (Jason Isaacs) who tells Maxine that Witchcraft is real. Is the path of the Witch her true destiny?
Set in the swinging 1960’s Firechild features cameos from a whole host of famous people who may (or may not) have been involved in London’s burgeoning Witchcraft scene. Firechild is a story of love, betrayal, and finding your own inner strength.
Why This Would Work: Want to know a secret? I wrote this entire article so I could pitch a Maxine Sanders television show. Her book Fire Child reads like a television show, and while I was devouring it over the weekend I couldn’t help but picture it that way. It’s got everything you want in a TV show; there’s romance, betrayal, secret, and a super-strong heroine with amazing gifts. I’m serious about this being a TV show, it would be a huge hit.
Think of it as Mad Men, but with Witches! For all of his faults, Alex Sanders was one of the greatest salesman the Craft has ever known, and the smartest thing he ever did was making Maxine his High Priestess. He was also a deeply flawed person (just like Don Draper), which makes for some captivating story telling. I don’t want to say he’s evil or anything like that, but he certainly changes Maxine’s life, and there are moments when reading Fire Child where you want to punch the guy in the face. When I say that this would be the most incredible Witch TV show of all time I am not kidding around.