Television 27 November 2018 | 19:05

Could a Roald Dahl universe be Netflix’s golden ticket?

27 November 2018 19:05

You know the kind of news stories that raise your hopes up, only to push you over the top of your cliff of excitement into a freezing cold ocean of disappointment? This is one of them. Well, I might be exaggerating slightly, but that is certainly akin to the roller coaster of emotions I felt upon hearing that Netflix will be producing a new series based on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s books.

It all sounds so perfectly binge-watchable and heart-warming, right? That feeling ends when you learn that the streaming service is potentially planning to create something of a Dahl universe, in which stories such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits and The BFG will overlap. ‘There will be threads that connect all of them,’ Melissa Cobb, VP of kids and family content at Netflix, told Variety. ‘We want to do the animation in the style of Dahl.’

It’s understandable that Netflix would want to bring something new to tales that have been re-read and re-imagined by so many over the decades, however, using the Marvel model on these classics just seems kind of wrong. Call me old fashioned, but I want Matilda to stay the hell away from James’s giant peach, and if Charlie Bucket starts hanging out in the library with the BFG, then I’m done.

Despite all the Oscar contenders that are making their way on to Netflix’s line-up, such as the brilliant Roma, it seems as though the platform is getting a bit lost with its programming as of late – just look at last month’s Luke Cage casualty. A lack of consistency and investment in their most watched properties means that subscribers are getting bored, and with so many other streaming services offering quality content, who’s to say that they won’t switch their subscriptions?

This series could be a golden ticket amongst the slew of samey sitcoms and cartoons that now populate users’ dashboards, a marvellous medicine to win viewers’ trust back. But messing with childhood favourites is a dangerous game and something tells me that this particular one might not be worth playing.