Smokey and the Bandit TV Series

Star Wars was the highest grossing film in the United States in 1977, but do you know what movie sits in the #2 spot? It’s the high speed action comedy Smokey and the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed and a slew of impressive car chases and crashes. Now, 43 years after the movie kicked off a franchise, there’s a Smokey and the Bandit TV series in the works from Universal Content Productions, and it’ll be produced by some heavy-hitting comedic talent.

The Hollywood Reporter has news on the Smokey and the Bandit TV series in development with Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green co-writing and executive producing, as well as directing the pilot. Also joining him as executive producers will be Danny McBride and Jody Hill, who previously collaborated with Green on the HBO shows The Righteous Gemstones, Vice Principals and Eastbound & Down. They’ll be producing through their Rough House Pictures banner while Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane will also be executive producing with Erica Huggins through their Fuzzy Door production banner.

The original Smokey and the Bandit followed Burt Reynolds as the Bandit, a good ol’ fast-talking trucker who takes on a job delivering 400 cases of beer from Texarkana to Atlanta in just 28 hours. But Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) is hot on his trail and aims to bring down the hammer on him once and for all. But the Bandit has his buddy Cledus (Jerry Reed) and a runaway bride (Sally Field) to help him outrun the law. The movie is known for having wild car chases with some spectacular big screen vehicular mayhem.

As for the Smokey and the Bandit TV series, it’s said to be inspired by the overall genre of 1970s and 1980s drive-in double features that the original movie was part of. The series will explore “the crossroads where humble realities meet those larger-than-life, all in a blast of tailpipe exhaust.” Hopefully that means they won’t be cheap about wrecking some cars.

Considering what Green did with Pineapple Express, this has the potential to be a lot of fun. The filmmaker said in a statement, “Growing up in the south, Smokey and the Bandit was an iconic franchise for me. The legacy of these characters is a playground of swagger and sass that I’m excited to dig into.” Huggins added in her own statement:

“When UCP mentioned Smokey and the Bandit we were immediately drawn to it. We knew we had to remain faithful to its original setting in the South, and find an authentic voice. David’s immediate interest and his unique perspective and love for the original made it possible. Smokey and the Bandit was a very cool and irreverent film at the time and we hope to achieve that same feeling in the show.”

The question is who has the swagger to take on the role of the Bandit? Burt Reynolds was quite the handsome fella back in the day, and the confidence and attitude he brought to the movie was a big reason why it became such a hit. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing Danny McBride take on the role, even if he doesn’t quite match the profile. He’s probably better suited for Cledus anyway. Chris Pratt might be a good option, but he’s not exactly seen in the most favorable light right now. Am I crazy thinking that Ryan Gosling could pull this off? Probably, especially since this is a TV series that doesn’t have a distributor yet. How about Jake Johnson? He’s got a rugged, handsomeness about him. Whoever it is, they’re gonna need a killer mustache.

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