Spike's Red Mars TV series, based on Kim Stanley Robinson's award-winning Mars Trilogy of novels, has been put on indefinite hold following some high-profile departures.
In particular, it's been confirmed that J. Michael Straczynski's involvement will now be restricted to the pilot script and possibly some additional episodes later on. Spike offered Straczynski the showrunner role, but he has bowed out citing other commitments (presumably including Netflix's Sense8, his collaboration with the Wachowskis which was recently renewed for a second season). Peter Noah stepped in as showrunner, but has now left following "creative differences" with the network. The project is now on hold whilst Spike figures out what to do next.
The "creative differences" has raise concern with fans. The Mars Trilogy is a mostly cerebral, political and scientific story about the realities of colonising Mars. It slow-paced and has very few action sequences. The story also unfolds over some 190 years, with the characters surviving thanks to the introduction of an age rejuvenation therapy. Turning this story into a compelling drama would be a tall order for HBO or Netflix, but Spike TV (which tends more towards action fare and reality shows) always felt like an awkward fit. Fans had been hoping that the success of The Martian, with its emphasis (more or less) on real science, would encourage Spike to stick closer to the tone and pacing of the novels.