Apple TV+ Orders Speed Racer Series From J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot

You didn't think Tom Cruise was the only one with a patent on the phrase "the need for speed," did you?

Both filmmaker J.J. Abrams and Apple TV+ remain incredibly busy these days. The producer extraordinaire has his fingers in a number of different pots through his Bad Robot production company, although we most recently heard that his "Demimonde" series over at HBO may have hit somewhat of a snag. No matter, however, as he seems to be moving forward with another project at another major streaming service.

Variety is reporting that Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television are teaming up with Apple TV+ to create a new live-action "Speed Racer" series. Apparently in the works for quite some time now, the project has been given a full series order. In terms of the talent involved, Ron Fitzgerald and Hiram Martinez have been recruited to serve as co-showrunners, writers, and executive producers, with Abrams executive producing as well.

The "Speed Racer" franchise is based on the classic Japanese manga originally created by Tatsuo Yoshida under the title "Mach GoGoGo," which was subsequently adapted as an anime series known as "Speed Racer" in 1967. As shown in the Wachowskis' film, the story follows the exploits of brilliant driver Speed Racer (owner of the beautifully designed Mach 5 car) and his close-knit team made up of his father Pops and brother Spritle, girlfriend Trixie, and, uh, his pet chimpanzee named Chim-Chim.

Speed Racer comes to Apple TV+

Readers should be familiar with the first attempt at adapting "Speed Racer" in live action, which the Wachowski sisters did in 2008 with their spectacularly kinetic feature film of the same name. Unfortunately, that extravagant blockbuster (commonly referred to as a "live-action anime") flopped in theaters — though it has since gained a cult following in appreciation of the eye-popping visuals and masterfully unconventional editing. If this Apple TV+ series can recapture even a tenth of the magic conjured by the Wachowskis, it will have my undivided attention. (Deadline, notably, reports that this new show will have nothing to do with the Wachowskis' film.)

"Speed Racer" will mark one of the streamer's more ambitious efforts in recent years, and the names involved certainly reflect that. Fitzgerald is known for co-creating and co-showrunning the first season of the excellent HBO Max series, "Perry Mason," having previously been credited on shows such as "Westworld" and "Friday Night Lights." Martinez, meanwhile, has worked on titles such as "Get Shorty," the new "Snowpiercer" series, and "Snowfall." For Abrams' Bad Robot, "Speed Racer" will be made as part of their overall deal that includes several other productions, such as various DC projects, a Stephen King adaptation, and a Netflix series about the band U2.

However, there is no word yet on whether this "Speed Racer" series will be able to top the glorious madness of John Goodman fighting off hordes of ninjas and following it up with the one-liner of: "More like a non-ja. Terrible what passes for a ninja these days."