Monday, 10 September 2018

Six Series I'm Watching For

Recently, there has been a spate of buying rights to old novels and properties in preparation for turning them into live action adaptations. Things like Fahrenheit 451 are getting feature films, even Larry Niven's Ring World is being optioned for television.

Though there's over 40 sci-fi and fantasy series being optioned for film and television, here's six I'm personally watching:

1) The Dark Tower

Stephen King's long running fantasy/western series has entertained and thrilled readers since The Gunslinger was released in 1982. This gunslingling fantasy epic runs between numerous parallel worlds all trying to save the eponymous tower from the machinations of the Man in Black and his overlord, The Crimson King.

Most recently this series deserved some much deserved hype when the 2017 film premiered. Unfortunately it only premiered to mixed reviews and didn't thrill hardcore fans. Despite some amazing action scenes and good performances, the movie failed to live up to some people's expectations. Now though, it may receive some new life on the small screen.

Though there have been rumblings about it being picked up on Amazon, so far the series remains in development hell, and little concrete has moved forward or been announced. But if this series does go forward, as an American classic, it needs to be watched out for.

2) Y: The Last Man

This series is going to be adapted from the amazing comic series Y: The Last Man, in which all animals with the Y chromosome are wiped out simultaneously by a mysterious plague. All that is, except for one man named Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersad. Along the way they are pursued by rogue government operatives, cultists, and ninja.

Its an exciting series, and full of fun visual imagery and lots of mystery regarding how the plague came about. In April it was confirmed that FX would be picking up the series and had put forward a formal order for a pilot episode. A cast list was recently released, which means that, happily, this series is moving forward.

3) Lovecraft Country

A recent novel by Matt Ruff the story focuses on Atticus Turner and his search for his missing father across 1954 Jim Crow America. Teaming up with his friend Letitia and his Uncle George they set off across the nation dodging not only the all to real horrors of racist America, but the unknown horrors lurking in the shadows all around them.

With stellar reviews, I unfortunately have not read this novel yet (it's on my reading list for October) it is clear that this will be an excellent series. It has been picked up by HBO, with Jordan Peele and J. J. Abrams as producers. Principle casting is complete, so apparently all we are waiting on now is a release date.

If this brings Lovecraftian horror into the fore, and hopefully allows for some adaptions of the work of that master of horror himself, I couldn't be happier.

4) The Witcher

Andrzej Sapkowski’s amazing fantasy series, and its fantastic video game adaptation, have enthralled readers and gamers for twi decades now. Their popularity, despite appearing in only Polish and then being translated to English, is practically unprecedented. The series has taken off in popularity since then, almost rivaling A Song of Ice and Fire in terms of cult classic.

Following Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, who hunts monsters while being swept up in grand political intrigues effecting an entire continent. Known for some ugly and humorous spins on traditional fantasy genres, it often goes into gruesome details about the more unsavory aspects of living in a medieval world. There's also a lot of hilarious innuendo being thrown around both in the game and the books.

The series has been picked up for distribution by Netflix and is currently in the preliminary stages. Script writing, shooting locations, and one important casting decision with Henry Cavill (of Superman fame) to play Geralt. Though not yet ready for premier, it is assumed we will be seeing this show on Netflix come 2020.

5) Halo

For fans of action packed sci-fi, any adaptation of the hit video game series would be welcome. With numerous comics, books, and one current live action short, a full film or television adaptation has been a long time coming. There have been rumors of a film adaptation for years, going back over a decade with Peter Jackson at one time slated to direct.

However, most projects have been scrapped, or been consigned to development hell. However, apparently Showtime is producing a for television adaptation under the direction of Kyle Killen. It is slated for premier in 2020. Will this adaptation get off the ground, or will it crash and burn like the Covenant? Only time will tell.

6) The Wheel of Time

Finally, the biggest fantasy series for many, even putting A Song of Ice and Fire to shame, with a sprawling 14 books and massive canon and characters, we have the Wheel of Time. Chronicling the stories of three ta'veren (individuals who twist the Pattern, or literally the tapestry of life around them) who are caught up in an epic struggle against the Dark One. One of them is the Dragon Reborn, destined to lead the world to the Last Battle and break the world as we know it.

Epic in every sense, from the scale of the story, the intrigue, the battles, the magic, it is truly amazing.

Now though, Amazon seems to be hoping to turn it into a new Game of Thrones franchise. This is, in my opinion, a wise choice. With a massive fan base going back through the 1990s, and sometimes crossing over with the fans of the modern fantasy master Brandon Sanderson, it has a built in audience which may drive its success.

Although there are, as yet, no scripts or casting choices, it may be a while until we hear anything definitive on a project this big. While there was a truly convoluted legal battle with the rights to the series, that Amazon is picking up the series seems certain. Where it will go from here, who can say?

So these are the series I am watching in the coming years with their adaptations to the small screen (or big screen). I'm looking forward to all of these. With some solid casting choices, and some solid talent behind their creation, we can count on these to be fun for the sci-fi/fantasy community.

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