This week Susanna Bier, director of last year's excellent miniseries The Night Manager, dropped word that a script for a follow-up was “slowly being developed.” This must have put a fire under the collective butt of The Ink Factory, AMC and the BBC, who released a statement today saying they “are in the early stages of developing a potential second [season] of ‘The Night Manager,’ but nothing is definite yet and we have nothing to announce.”
So in brief, they want to do another season and are working to break the story before they commit. Other things one imagines are in the air: would a new story be based on material from Night Manager author John Le Carré, or would he at least have some input? Would a second season be centered around Jonathan Pine, Tom Hiddleston’s reluctant undercover agent? I ask because some folks are convinced Hiddleston is about to take another high-profile spy gig, and it’s doubtful those new bosses would be into their boy giving it away on basic cable. And if it’s to feature a brand-new protagonist, will it still be called The Night Manager, or will it get some dope new le Carré-esque title?
It’s no secret that we* at BMD were big fans of the show when it aired last year, so we will cautiously file all this under “good news.” Other fans of the series (or indeed, of le Carré’s book) might be concerned over what a second season would even entail, so specific and complete was the arc of Jonathan Pine and his Secret Service controller Angela Burr (Olivia Colman). I would point these doubters to the classic 1980s Stephen J. Cannell series Wiseguy, which successfully placed its Pine-esque** protagonist (Ken Wahl) and his beleaguered supervisor (Jonathan Banks) in several exciting situations that also each happened to be 8-10 episodes long. Wiseguy even managed to sub out its protagonist - three times - for whole story arcs.
The biggest takeaway from Wiseguy was its success rate at pitting its hero against a stellar lineup of larger-than-life villains (Kevin Spacey, Tim Curry, JERRY LEWIS, for God's sake) over four seasons- something the Night Manager folks are going to want to be very cognizant of as they develop a new big bad to step into the shoes of Hugh Laurie’s Richard Roper.
*Well, me. I don’t know what these other people are doing.
**There is, chronologically speaking, zero chance that Cannell borrowed his premise from le Carré’s 1993 novel, though the 1996 Wiseguy reunion TV-movie seems to have lifted entire story beats from The Night Manager.