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Syfy’s Childhood’s End: What Price Utopia?

by on Dec.02, 2015, under Television

Childhood's EndWhat would you be willing to give up for world peace? No hunger? No disease? Would it be your humanity?

Those the kinds of questions addressed in Syfy’s upcoming event series, Childhood’s End, based on one of the best SF novels by Arthur C. Clarke.

Long thought to be impossible to adapt to a video medium, the adaptation for Syfy under the pen of Matthew Graham (Life on Mars) does an admirable job. Fans of the book will of course miss items left out – a novel that spans decades and delves into the the lives of many characters needs to be trimmed in some way – the story keeps to the core theme, and the characters needed to advance the story.

They story opens in the present day, when the sudden arrival of massive alien ships – along with the requisite “cloud front” (I wish they’d get away from this visual effects meme, but it was still done well), but rather than being the front of a hostile invasion the aliens – called the “Overlords” led by the unseen Karellen, the Supervisor of Earth – announce that they will help Humanity by eliminating war, violence, sickness, etc., bringing about a golden age of Humanity. But it isn’t until much later, after Karellen reveals himself, that the price of this golden age might be more than what Humanity would have been willing to pay.

Childhood's End - Season 1Although taking place mostly on Earth, the visuals were spectacular, and I might not have even seen the final version of them. The Overload ships weren’t the prototypical massive saucer shapes, but rather showed actual design. Overall one of the best efforts I’ve seen from Syfy programming.

Story-wise, the show can be plodding in parts, especially in the middle of the three episodes where it needs to set up for the final night where the story really pays off, while the first night has to juggle a lot of things with so many things to explain, which results in some abbreviated interaction when the Overlords arrive almost to a “We are here, everything will be cool” brevity.

The choice of the Overlords to speak through Ricky Stormgren, who in this adaptation is a farmer rather than the United Nations Secretary General, was an interesting change which for some reason reminded me of the 1977 movie Oh God! where God (George Burns) decides that a grocery store manager (John Denver) will speak for him. But I think Mike Vogel does well with the role…and for whom the definition of “saved” may be disputed…

Childhood's End - Season 1I think in general fans of the book will be pleased with the adaptation. Purists might still whine about the omissions, but putting too much in can actually have a detrimental effect. And those who haven’t read the book might find plenty of surprises along the way. It’s been so long since I’ve read the book, I was pleasantly reminded of the twists.

Childhood’s End airs over three nights starting on December 14th on Syfy.


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Nip/Tuck‘s Julian McMahon and Shutter‘s Daisy Betts join Childhood’s End

by on Dec.17, 2014, under Television

Syfy and Universal Cable Productions today announced that Golden Globe nominee Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) will portray Rupert Boyce, an enigmatic American entrepreneur, in the upcoming six-hour miniseries Childhood’s End.

Adapted for the screen for the first time ever from Arthur C. Clarke’s beloved and influential novel, Childhood’s End will premiere on Syfy in 2015.

Syfy and Universal Cable Productions also announced that Daisy Betts (Shutter) has been cast as Ellie, an arts graduate engaged to marry Ricky Stormgren (Mike Vogel), the most influential human in the world.

McMahon and Betts join Emmy Award nominee Charles Dance/Karellen (Game of Thrones) and Mike Vogel/Rick Stormgren (Bates Motel), along with Ashley Zukerman/Jake Greggson (Manhattan), Osy Ikhile/Milo (Clap!) and Yael Stone/Peretta Jones (Orange is the New Black).

Hailed as a revolutionary work of science fiction since its publishing in 1953, Childhood’s End follows the peaceful invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule, at the cost of human identity and culture which may ultimately threaten the very survival of mankind.

Childhood’s End will be filmed in Australia.

Akiva Goldsman (Lone Survivor, A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend), Mike De Luca (Captain Philips, Moneyball, The Social Network) and Alissa Phillips (Moneyball, Mob City) are executive producers. Childhood’s End will be adapted by Matthew Graham (creator of BBC’s Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes). Universal Cable Productions will be the studio.

The miniseries will be directed by Nick Hurran, who received an Emmy Award nomination for Sherlock and a Hugo Award nomination for Doctor Who.


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Syfy planning miniseries adaptation of Clarke’s 3001: The Final Odyssey

by on Nov.03, 2014, under Television

Syfy announced today that it is working with Scott Free Productions and Warner Horizon Television to adapt the Arthur C. Clarke novel 3001: The Final Odyssey into a miniseries. Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, Collateral) will write the adaptation and serve as executive producer along with Scott Free’s Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker. Clayton Krueger will serve as co-executive producer.

An epic story of a man lost in time, Arthur C. Clarke’s final “Odyssey” book resolves the tale that was begun in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Beginning with the discovery of Frank Poole’s frozen body, floating in space, 3001: The Final Odyssey offers an extraordinary range of complex characters with conflicting agendas, stunning visuals, and dark thematic meditations on the final fate of all Humankind.

Arthur C. Clarke’s “Odyssey” series spanned over 30 years, with the initial publication of “2001” in 1968, and the final “3001” 1997. The original film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is an Academy Award winning classic, and “2010” was the only other of the novels to be filmed. The estates of both Kubrick and Clarke have offered their full support for “3001: The Final Odyssey.”

“I have always been a fan of Clarke’s extraordinary ‘Odyssey’ series, and certainly Kubrick’s adaptation of 2001. I am thrilled to be part of bringing that legacy to audiences and continuing the great cinematic tradition that this story and its creators deserve,” said Ridley Scott.

“Arthur C. Clarke is the father of modern science fiction,” said Syfy President Dave Howe. “We couldn’t be more excited to be working with Scott Free and Warner Horizon Television to bring to the screen, for the very first time, the final chapter of this extraordinary masterpiece.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Syfy announcing the greenlight of another Arthur C. Clarke novel, Childhood’s End, which begins production later this year.


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Charles Dance will play Overlord Karellen in Syfy’s Childhood’s End

by on Oct.27, 2014, under Television

Syfy and Universal Cable Productions today announced that Emmy nominee Charles Dance, whose numerous credits include Game of Thrones, Phantom of the Opera, Jewel in the Crown and Bleak House, will play the lead role of the alien Overlord “Karellen” in the upcoming six-hour miniseries Childhood’s End.

Adapted from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novel, Childhood’s End will premiere on Syfy in 2015. Childhood’s End follows the peaceful invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords. Karellen (Dance), the ambassador for the Overlords, makes first contact with Earthling Ricky Stormgren. Karellen’s comforting words and amazing technological gifts quickly win humanity’s favor, beginning decades of apparent utopia at the cost of human identity and culture. However, his refusal to reveal his physical appearance and insistence on dealing only through Ricky have some people questioning whether his intentions are truly benevolent.

In making the announcement, Bill McGoldrick, Executive Vice President, Original Content, Syfy, said: “We are thrilled that Charles has picked Childhood’s End following his amazing work in Game of Thrones.”

Akiva Goldsman (Lone Survivor, A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend) and Mike DeLuca (Captain Philips, Moneyball, The Social Network) will serve as executive producers. Alissa Phillips (Moneyball, Mob City) is co-executive producer. Childhood’s End will be adapted by Matthew Graham (creator of BBC’s Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes). Universal Cable Productions will be the studio.

The miniseries will be directed by Nick Hurran, who received an Emmy Award nomination for Sherlock and a Hugo Award nomination for Doctor Who.


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Syfy gives green light to Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End mini-series

by on Sep.03, 2014, under Television

As we reported a few weeks ago, a deal to adapt Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End for Syfy was close, and now it’s done – Syfy has given the go ahead for production today, for what will be a six hour mini-series.

In making the announcement, Dave Howe, President, Syfy, said: “As we aggressively develop scripted programming over a diverse creative landscape, we want our content to reflect the greatest sci-fi stories from the past and the present. The powerful themes of Childhood’s End, from the fearsome price of peace and prosperity, to the very question of what constitutes a human being, remain fascinating and timeless. This will be the most ambitious project for Syfy in many years.”

Akiva Goldsman (Lone Survivor, A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend) and Mike De Luca (Captain Philips, Moneyball, The Social Network) are attached as executive producers. Childhood’s End will be adapted by Matthew Graham (creator of BBC’s Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes). Universal Cable Productions will be the studio.

The miniseries will be directed by Nick Hurran, who received a 2014 Emmy Award nomination for Sherlock: His Last Vow and a Hugo Award nomination for Doctor Who.

Additional behind the scene credits include Emmy Award winners Neville Kidd (Director of Photography) and Yan Miles (Editor). Both were just honored by the Academy for their work in Sherlock: His Last Vow.

Hailed as a revolutionary work of science fiction since its publishing in 1953, Childhood’s End follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious “Overlords,” whose arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule, at the cost of human identity and culture.


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Childhood’s End mini-series closing in on deal at Syfy

by on Aug.15, 2014, under Television

The wheels of Hollywood turn slowly, but they turn…a mini-series based on Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End, about a peaceful alien invasion by the mysterious Overlords who put an end to all war and conflict and help the Earth to a near-Utopia state – but no one knows why, is nearing a deal at Syfy.

The six-hour mini was mentioned at Syfy’s 2013 upfronts, but little had been heard since until now. The series would be produced by Michael De Luca (The Social Network, Captain Phillips) and Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend), with Nick Hurran (Doctor Who “Day of the Doctor”) in the director’s chair and Matthew Graham (Doctor Who “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People”) writing the script.

This may have been the only survivor announced at those upfronts, although I will be scoping out what the status of Ringworld is when I can corner some Syfy execs…


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Top 10 SF movies never made?

by on May.13, 2010, under Movies

With David Fincher taking a further step away from the long-smoldering Rendezvous With Rama epic, SCI FI Wire has come up with a list of the 10 most awesome sci-fi movies that never were … so far. Along with Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama and Childhood’s End, there are some other long-awaited classics (The Stars My Destination), but also more recent and questionable entries – apparently Ghostbusters 3 isn’t as sure as we were led to believe – and “most awesome” would really have to wait until we know the story, I’d think…what are some of the other announced epics that seem to have vanished? Ringworld? Has Foundation entered production yet? What other sagas are you waiting for (or at least, still waiting for a good adaptation)?

Update: thanks to decipher_saint for pointing out that the link was completely botched…


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