Tuesday, 27 April 2010

SEEKER cancelled plus BLAKE'S 7 remake and WHEEL OF TIME movie news

Legend of the Seeker, the ABC first-run syndication series based on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series of novels, has been cancelled after two seasons. The series ran into trouble when the Tribune Network pulled out of funding for a proposed third year. ABC spent some time shopping the project to other stations and networks, but a lack of interest has seen the series cancelled. The series has proven controversial, with die-hard book fans unhappy with the significant changes to the novels' storylines and premise, although the series has also picked up its own loyal following.

A remake of the BBC's classic Blake's 7 space opera series, which ran for four successful seasons between 1978 and 1981, has been in development for several years at Sky. The production company has confirmed the project remains viable, with discussions currently underway on the show's format (ongoing series or mini-series). The original series - pretty much Star Wars meets Nineteen Eighty-Four - was set roughly a thousand years in the future and depicted a small band of freedom fighters struggling against a ruthlessly totalitarian government with the help of an advanced alien spacecraft they salvage. The original series was a big influence on J. Michael Stracznyski and Joss Whedon and some inspirations from Blake's 7 can be seen on their series Babylon 5 and Firefly, including the use of serialised storylines, ensemble casts and extreme ruthlessness towards characters. A properly-handled remake could be excellent, providing they get the right actors to play the critical roles of Avon and Servalan.

The would-be producers of the Wheel of Time movies have commented on Dragonmount that their likewise long-bereft-of-news project remains in development at Universal, and even suggested a possible release date of The Eye of the World movie for 2012. Given that they're still in the scripting stage with no screenwriter publicly announced, no director officially attached to the project and no official green light from the studio, we can safely say this isn't going to be happening. Even 2013 would be ambitious if they got the green light tomorrow. The plan for the film adaptation appears to be to make one film per book (which means losing 50% or more of the plot of each book, something that fans don't seem to have picked up on much as yet) for the first three, and then combine elements from the later books to make the later films. Curiously, Red Eagle don't even appear to have an outline for how many films that this will take (which I'd have thought would have been question #1 from any prospective studio), although we can safely say it won't be 14, or even half that.

Further news on these projects as it appears.


Jan said...

I really feel like they're going in the wrong direction with the Wheel of Time franchise. I think you have to go the Television route with it. It's not going to fit neatly into a movie format. I think if the first movie does not make money, then you'll be seeing, at best, one additional film. With all the subplots of the books, television with a relatively unknown cast would be the best option, in my opinion.

Bill said...

I think HBO's handling of Thrones next year, and how well it's received (between fan base and new viewers interested in that sort of telling), is pretty much going to set the precedent going forward for all epic adaptations.

I think LoTR was an exception, not the rule, and HBO is using its popularity to springboard into what is potentially a much more satisfying portrayal of a novel(s) into visual media.

Eragon? Movie, sure. WoT? Television, absolutely, or not at all.

(Though I could see a movie portraying some significant arc within a novel series, something that might stand alone on its own merit. Like a super cool teaser trailer.)

Anonymous said...

The WoT movie... Well, I cannot, first of all, see how anybody of sense would not prefer a tv-series.

I think a faithful - as we fans would see it - movie adaptation is virtually impossible.

It is possible, however, that a good film might be made of it - in the "based on" or "inspired by" category, but I'm certainly keeping in mind the possiblity of utter disaster. At present I have no opinion or idea as to how good/bad it will be. I wasn't even remotely interested in the LOTR movies until I saw the first trailer - which blew me away; I never thought it would look like that! (I was envisioning a cross between Xena and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, I think... :) )

In the matter of the WoT-movie, I'll start to form an opinion (in that hazy distant future) when (or if) I see where they go with the casting. The Young Bright Things will, no doubt, complete unknowns. But the casting of other roles - if they indeed go for character actors, substance rather than show... well, there may be hope for the project yet.

But yes, indeed, a tv-series would have been so, so much better - and made so much more sense!


Jan said...

The idea of jamming the later books together is a bad idea. The books get bigger, so later on you'll cut out more content? Blah.

Anonymous said...

The problem with a WOT tv series is budget. Unless you are throwing serious amounts of money at the series some of the bigger set peices, like for instance Dumai's Wells, are going to be horrible truncated. To pull it off you need a network with deep pockets and even then it doesn't all was work, HBO's Rome managed a single battle in two series and that was with 100 million dollar plus budget. I doubt anybody would be willing to put that amount of money up for WOT.

Interestingly enought the first right sold where actual for a mini-series. I think that might be the best comprimise between budget and time.

Jebus said...

Why do none of these production houses ever go the animation path to adapt a long series of books to TV? Look how much great Anime is out there that can clearly sustain a serialised storyline for many, many episodes.

Some good animation with a production studio unwilling to dumb down the story line and also wiling to hire good script writers could make some seriously awesome TV series of current and classic Sci-Fi and Fantasy novel franchises.

Imagine an animated WoT, First Law, Gentleman Bastard, Magician, or "insert favourite novel series here". If I had the money and could gather the talent this is the kind of thing I'd be doing. And it doesn't necessarily need to be in the "anime" format, it could even be CG - look how cool Roughnecks was!

Jan said...

Jebus, as much as I agree with your sentiment about animation, there is a stigma attached to it for american audiences. I think that most people see animation or cartoons and automatically think its for kids. Considering that lack of success of adult animation movies such as Beowulf, it would probably be a hard sell.

Adam Whitehead said...

"Why do none of these production houses ever go the animation path to adapt a long series of books to TV? Look how much great Anime is out there that can clearly sustain a serialised storyline for many, many episodes."

Anime is a niche, cult phenomenon in the West, no matter how vocal its fans are on the Internet. Without it being mainstream in Japan, anime would not be able to survive on its Western fanbase alone.

Interestingly, a Japanese anime company did approach Jordan at one stage, but they only wanted to adapt the first three books, so he turned them down. I wonder if he would have accepted if they'd offered to adapt all of them.

Jebus said...

Jan and Wert - it's a real shame that we in the West tend to think like that. I guess it doesn't help when shit like Beowulf (good animation, appalling script - sorry Mr Gaiman but it was) and the recent Dragonlance pile of vomit gets made. Yet animated films like Up, Wall-E and How To Train Your Dragon clearly have an adult audience out there.

I guess TMNT didn't do too well, nor Astro boy so even though fantasy can make it into mainstream, it doesn't quite work for the more niche stuff that we're into. And it's not superhero stuff to get made into Western cartoons like Iron Man or X-Men.

It's just I see the success of shows like Avatar and think what if they made something on the same budget but with a more adult sensibility to it. Hell using Avatar as an example it had a lot of slapstick humour in it but still had quite a few adult themes.

Will be interesting to see how the Ultramarines film goes. Or if the animators at Blizzard ever made a Diablo or WOW film - now THAT would have a pretty big audience.

Bah! Now I'm just dribbling shit.

I pledge right here, that if I win the Lotto I'm setting up my own animation company and getting some of this shit DONE!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed "Wizard's First Rule" and read a few of the sequels, which were adequate page-turners.

I was really hoping Legend of the Seeker would be good, but I found it to be unwatchable. The writing was bad: stilted, cheesy, heavy-handed, all types of bad. The acting, cinematography, etc. were all adequate but could not overcome the horrible writing.

I struggled through the whole first season, and it only got worse, IMO. I'm glad Legend of the Seeker has been cancelled; I'm shocked it had a second season.

Unknown said...

I love wheel of time but I dont understand why people think the movie would be so long. Actual dialogue between characters in the book dont actually take up that much space. Jordan describes every single think in the books to a T. 90% if the words in the book can be done away with by seeing it with your eyes in the movie. Thanks