Just this past Monday Showtime was up at the Television Critics Association, and they got the chance to talk about the upcoming ‘Halo’ series which fans are very excited about, especially now that they have announced that Kyle Killen will be writing and Rupert Wyatt will be directing. Of course, now come the logistical questions as everyone wants to know how they plan on making a first person shooter game into a full series worthy of watching and living up to fan expectations.
On the question of how to use Master Chief in the series, President of Programming at Showtime Gary Levine stated:
“It is a key question and an important part of our series is all I say. He is a lead character.”
But does that mean he is THE lead character? They also spoke on whether or not the series would be based on the story from one of the games in particular, to which Levine said:
“It is a new story, but we are being incredibly respectful of the canon and working with Microsoft 343 people to be sure we don’t violate any of that. We made a conscious decision to hire a writer not known for sci-fi or big battle movies because that’s already baked into the Halo franchise and we will service that but we also wanted to make sure we were getting underneath the armor of the spartans to the human drama, so it felt like it belonged on Showtime. Our hope is it will appeal to Halo fans and Showtime drama fans.”
And of course, Levine was asked about where exactly they would be filming a series that takes place in outer space, and when we could expect to see it, to which he replied:
“Since locations are foreign planets, I’d say it will be a studio backlot but there will be multiple locations…It’s an enormous undertaking, so I would say probably in 2020.”
The biggest worry of course, if the curse of “there hasn’t been a good video game adaptation yet,” but Levine seems hopeful, and has a lot of faith in the writer for the series, Kyle Killen:
“Again, I think it’s about the writing. I think Kyle Killen is a really deep interesting character writer. The premise for us was always it needs to stand alongside our other Showtime shows and look like it belongs there while at the same time servicing the fans of this enormous franchise. We don’t worry about the odds. We just plow ahead and we’re very optimistic.”
When asked whether they were hoping ‘Halo’ would be Showtime’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ Levine let Showtime CEO David Nevins take the question, and he answered with:
“I’ve seen scripts. I think it’s a very different genre. It is futuristic space based science fiction. It’s not fantasy. There’s been one iconic franchise in my opinion in the history of television in that category and that’s Star Trek. Probably 10 or 12 of the top 20 movies of all time are futuristic sci-fi. It’s weird that television hasn’t turned up those kinds of franchises. It was a long time to get the script where we felt we had something really interesting and felt like it belonged on Showtime in terms of its character depth. It’s going to be a big show.”
All in all, it sounds like Showtime is going in with decent expectations, and expecting fans to set the bar high, but not TOO high for the series, which is a smart move considering how risky a video game adaptation is. Still, the ‘Halo’ franchise has enough fans to carry any show, as long as it is at least marginally well-made (look at all the ‘World of Warcraft’ diehards who still defend that movie) so Showtime should do well enough with the series as long as they do not completely butcher it.
What are your thoughts here? Do you think Showtime is heading in the right direction? Are you pleased to know Master Chief will be a major character? Disappointed they will not be following the story from one of the games? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below!