David Cronenberg is about to do the first television work he has done in some time. The director did a lot of work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in his early days, and he even directed episodes of some Canadian-shot shows that you might not associate with his particular brand of cinema. (Ever seen his episode of the tepid late ’80s show Friday the 13th: The Series?)

But now Cronenberg is about to take a commanding role in a series: he’ll direct the pilot for a series called Knifeman, and serve as exec producer for the show. Even better for those who have hoped to see the director return to the subject matter of his ’70s and ’80s output, the show will be based on a biography of “a radical, self-educated surgeon,” and the “unorthodox lengths he will go to uncover the secrets of the human body.”

THR says Media Rights Capital is financing the show, which is based on Wendy Moore‘s book The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery, which tells the history of early surgeon John Hunter. (MRC is the same company behind House of Cards, the Netflix show David Fincher is working on.)

Here’s a description of the book:

In an era when bloodletting was considered a cure for everything from colds to smallpox, surgeon John Hunter was a medical innovator, an eccentric, and the person to whom anyone who has ever had surgery probably owes his or her life. In this sensational and macabre story, we meet the surgeon who counted not only luminaries Benjamin Franklin, Lord Byron, Adam Smith, and Thomas Gainsborough among his patients but also “resurrection men” among his close acquaintances. A captivating portrait of his ruthless devotion to uncovering the secrets of the human body, and the extraordinary lengths to which he went to do so—including body snatching, performing pioneering medical experiments, and infecting himself with venereal disease—this rich historical narrative at last acknowledges this fascinating man and the debt we owe him today.

So this is a period-set show that could meld some of Cronenberg’s various interests: the body awareness seen throughout his career, and the medical specifics of Dead Ringers and A Dangerous Method. That’s a good combination.

Rolin Jones (Friday Night Lights, Weeds, Smash) is writing, from a story outline he wrote with Ron Fitzgerald (Friday Night Lights). There is no cast set yet, but there are a horde of producers, including Sam Raimi, Josh Donen and Robert Zotnowski from Stars Road.

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