Happy! and Walking Dead creators developing Slaughterhouse-Five TV series based on Kurt Vonnegut novel

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Dec 6, 2017, 4:02 PM EST

Well, it looks like the higher-ups at Universal Cable Productions are plenty happy with the way Happy! is turning out, because they just gave its showrunner, Patrick Macmanus, a whole lot more to do. Macmanus has inked an overall deal with UCP, and has been announced to lead the studio's development of a new TV show based on Kurt Vonnegut’s classic 1969 novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.  

Of course, Slaughterhouse-Five, aka The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, is very much a classic sci-fi novel, too. But Vonnegut’s treasured story of “unstuck in time” traveler Billy Pilgrim has reached way beyond genre fare and into high school English classes far and wide. It was also the basis for George Roy Hill’s 1972 Prix du Jury, Hugo Award, and Saturn Award-winning film starring Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine.


Satirically, and at times frighteningly, the novel shows Pilgrim’s time-warped experiences in, out, and beyond World War II. And by beyond, we’re talking far beyond, like way out on the planet of Tralfamadore, where Billy is caged up in a zoo alongside Hollywood starlet Montana Wildhack.

In the war, Billy, like the author himself, survived as a POW during the firebombing of Dresden, and did so in the deep cellars of Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse 5). According to the UCP press release, “The novel explores the idea of predestination vs. free will, the impacts of war, as well as the perception of time itself.”


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time, much like the alien Trafalmadorians, and can see his past, present, and future. But even he can't stop from making enemies.

So yeah, it sounds like they're aiming for high-concept genre fans with this one. Besides Macmanus, executive producers include Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) of Valhalla Entertainment, Jon Brown (Pompeii) of Ensemble Entertainment, and Bradley Yonover (Swimfan) of Brand Y Media, who represents the intellectual property side of things. They’ll also be working with UCP on another Vonnegut adaptation, Sirens of Titan from Dan Harmon (Rick & Morty) and Evan Katz (Small Crimes).

And who knows, maybe if all these Vonnegut adaptations prove successful, perhaps we can get a shared universe featuring Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions’ failed sci-fi writer, Kilgore Trout. Hey, we can dream, right?

No word on when we can expect Slaughterhouse-Five, but you can check out Macmanus's new show Happy!, which premieres tonight on SYFY at 10 p.m. ET.