For quite some time I’ve been lamenting the absolute dearth of onscreen science fiction and happily, there do seem to be a few things here and there in the works. With little happening in this arena on cable networks (although HBO’s Westworld is finally on its way this fall; Netflix’s Sense8 returns December/January), our thirst is mostly filled in 2-hour film bursts, or gulped too quickly when streaming outlets make entire series available. But, we take what we can get — whenever we can get it — and if these two pilots Amazon just ordered are fully picked up we’ll be happy campers indeed. Both pilots come from excellent writers and directors, and they’re both intriguing enough I’d like to get my hands on them right now.
First up is our favorite Pan’s Labyrinthian, Guillermo del Toro repairing with Travis Beacham (Clash of the Titans, Pacific Rim) on his long-gestating (as Killing on Carnival Row) spec script, Carnival Row, which was picked up by New Line back in 2005. Transformed to a series by del Toro, the story is of a serial killer loose in a futuristic city — likened to 18 Century London — inhabited by creatures both human…and other. Star Trek: DS9‘s René Echevarria will be showrunner, with del Toro (who wrote the pilot) and Beacham producing the steampunkish, thriller.
From Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies, Black Work, Suite Francaise) and Kevin MacDonald (Touching the Void, State of Play, The Last King of Scotland), we’ll get an adaptation of Michael Faber’s (Under the Skin) The Book of Strange New Things. Likened to Heart of Darkness in space, a pastor leaves his wife behind, traveling to a distant planet to minister — and explain humanity — to an alien race. Of the story, Game of Thrones‘ David Benioff says,
Weird and disturbing, like any work of genius, this novel haunted me for the seven nights I spent reading it, and haunts me still. A story of faith that will mesmerize believers and non-believers alike, a story of love in the face of the Apocalypse, a story of humanity set in an alien world—The Book of Strange New Things is desperately beautiful, sad, and unforgettable.”
So, genre bending science fiction, with a bit of an Outlander-ish love story on the side? I’m all in.
Additionally, Amazon ordered three other pilots: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a series about a 50s housewife turned stand-up comedian from Gilmore Girls‘ Amy Sherman-Palladino; Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster’s adaptation of Joshuah Bearman’s real-life superheroes article for Rolling Stone called The Legend of Master Legend; and Tropicana, a series set at the Cuban nightclub (meh). I’ll probably stick to the space stuff.