Alive, the CBS series inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, has added Ryan Phillippe to its cast. The series, which will also star Arrow's Katrina Law, is being described as a modern interpretation of the classic Frankenstein tale in a cop procedural setting. The series comes from Jason Tracey, one of the producers behind CBS's long-running hit Elementary, which similarly was a modern, police procedural spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Alive will center on a San Francisco homicide detective who is mysteriously brought back to life after being killed in the line of duty -- but as he resumes his old life, and he and his wife realize he isn't the same person he used to be, they zero in on the strange man behind his resurrection: Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Mad Men's Aaron Staton will play Dr. Frankenstein, and Law will play Phillippe's wife.
This is the second time in less than five years that a network police procedural has used the Frankenstein hook, the previous being Second Chance, which during the course of its labored and ultimately doomed development was known as Frankenstein, The Frankenstein Code, and Lookinglass. In that series, which ran for 11 episodes on FOX in 2016, the resurrected character was a disgraced ex-cop who was revived as a younger version of himself. His resurrection granted him enhanced strength, speed, and stamina -- but he would start to die if he remained away from the rejuvenating powers of the Lookinglass corporation, which had revived him as part of a broader plan to save the life of one of its founders.
In general, Tracey and the network will have a tough road ahead of them; it has been quite a while since the last time there was a big hit based on Frankenstein. At the box office, the last adaptation of Shelley's masterpiece that managed to become a big hit was almost 25 years ago.
CBS recently revealed that Elementary would end after the current season, bringing to an end one of the most popular police procedurals in recent network history. Since its debut in 2012, Elementary has been a staple of CBS' lineup. Initially airing on Thursday nights for its first three season, the series has moved time slots a handful of times. Season 4 was split over its original Thursday night and Sundays where it stayed through Season 5. Season 6 saw the series make some of its biggest shifts, moving not only to Monday nights but shifting from being part of the fall schedule to the summer one. Despite the shifts, Elementary has continued to be well-received by viewers and is one of only three broadcast series that made their debut in fall 2012 that remain on the air -- the other two being NBC's Chicago Fire and The CW"s Arrow. That series, too, will be ending -- but not until after an abbreviated Season 8 in the fall.