Though television is awash in eccentric detective shows and, soon, supernatural procedurals, few have ever had a premise based on a guy who solves crimes based entirely on chewing things—unless you’re talking about David Caruso and the scenery. [Comical Don Martin sound effect.] So Showtime’s Chew definitely has that going for it, in addition to being based on an Eisner-winning comic-book series: It tells the story of Tony Chu, a cop turned FDA agent who boasts an ability as a “Cibopath,” which allows him to collect psychic impressions from the things he eats—for example, nibbling on corpses to figure out who killed them, which is a fairly extreme strategy. A lesser man may be tempted to just let these things remain a mystery, but this is why lesser men simply write things for the Internet. Anyway, Chu’s gift eventually gets him entangled in the investigation of an underground black market of illegal chicken distribution, after the population is decimated by bird flu. It’s dark but also a bit wacky in its obsession with poultry-related puns, but safe to say there’s never been anything quite like it on television before, which we don’t get to say very often.
Showtime has picked up the project from Circle Of Confusion, the same production company behind other comic adaptations like AMC’s The Walking Dead and FX’s forthcoming Powers, with Stephen Hopkins directing and producing. Hopkins has a lot of experience with horror, having directed episodes of Tales From The Crypt, A Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Child, Predator 2, The Reaping, and that 1998 big-screen version of Lost In Space that still haunts us, and he’s also had some experience with federal agent tales working on the first season of 24. No word yet on who may play the lead role of Chu—although in a 2010 interview with writer and co-creator John Layman, he mentioned that they’ve been in touch with obvious candidate Ken Leung, best known as Miles from Lost. Of course, as the upcoming remake of Akira has demonstrated, no one seems to have any faith in Asian-American leads right now, so we’ll see.