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Whoa, Fox Is Making An Animated Series Based On NIMH

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rats of NIMH

Things we expected to hear today: Warner Bros is making another Matrix. Sony is making another Gran Turismo. Things we never expected to hear: a dark, dramatic cartoon based on the Rats of NIMH is heading to Fox’s Animation Domination??

It may get crowded out by the louder announcements today, but it’s still the most surprising of them. Fox’s animated focus has been devoted entirely to dysfunctional families since practically its birth as a network. As recently as yesterday they announced details on another series that fits their usual groove. The mere fact that this would be a drama instead of a comedy is a radical departure. Is this really happening?

According to Deadline, yes. They’re really looking into a faithful adaption of NIMH, to slot next to Bob’s Burgers at some point. In fact, the next few projects for Animation Domination may all be this different: according to network president Michael Thorn, they’re looking into the mystery, adventure, workplace and rom-com genres for future inspiration. “We love our family shows, they’re iconic, but we’re looking to go beyond family and start to explore things that are more dramatic,” Thorn told Deadline.

The Rats of NIMH is a trilogy of books published in the 1970s about a race of superintelligent rats, most of them escapees from a lab at the National Institute of Mental Health (which I’m told actually exists and probably didn’t appreciate the negative attention). The first book was written by Robert C. O’Brien and the latter two were written by his daughter Jane Conly.

The series will have nothing to do with the landmark 1982 feature film adaption that launched Don Bluth’s solo career, in which Mrs. Frisby’s name was altered to Brisby and a magic medallion was inserted into the climax as a deux ex machina. The rats are on their own here! (We’re not slamming the movie, it rules.)

The NIMH project is now in pre-production and searching for a lead writer.