Over the years, a lot of video game franchises have seen television adaptations, and there are some significant ones in production at the moment. Interestingly enough, it has now been revealed that a series based on EA's Need for Speed: Underground was in the works in the early 2000s! The concept for the series was pitched to EA by Craig Lieberman, a technical advisor on the first two Fast and the Furious movies. In a new YouTube video, Lieberman reveals how he was a consultant on the first Need for Speed: Underground game, and how the show would have been produced by Lionsgate.
The show would have simply been titled Need for Speed, and it would have been a competition series that blended real-life racing and car-building elements with challenges based on Need for Speed: Underground. Viewers would have seen challenges like lap time, car judging (with professional judges and an online vote), fastest mechanic, a racing challenge in the video game, and more. The show had a projected budget of $6.5 million, "that would have made this among the most expensive shows of its time, when comparing formats." Unfortunately, there was immense competition from car shows during this era, and networks were hesitant to spend that kind of money for a license, rather than investing in something they owned outright.
The idea of taking Need for Speed: Underground and building a competition show around it is pretty interesting! The concept of incorporating competitive gameplay into the series feels very much ahead of its time, and almost a precursor to the explosion of Twitch and video game streaming. It's hard to say whether the show would have found success, or if it would have gotten lost in the glut of car shows that dominated the airwaves at the time; Lieberman revealed the project among several other concepts that similarly failed to find a home, which is a testament to how overstuffed the genre was. Alas, fans of the game will just have to wonder what might have been!
Would you have watched a Need for Speed TV series? Are you a fan of EA's racing series? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!