Posts Tagged: Television


Syfy, along with Universal Cable Productions, is adapting Robert Charles Wilson’s popular science fiction novel, Spin, for television. This adaptation, penned by Fight Club writer Jim Uhls, will be televised as a six-hour miniseries. Spin won Wilson a Hugo Award for ‘Best Novel’ in 2006, and remains one of my favourite big-idea science fiction novels of all time, and is a perfect candidate for a mini-series adaptation.

Part coming-of-age story, part political thriller, and part first contact story, Spin focuses on Tyler Dupree and his childhood friends, Diane and Jason Lawton, following them from the innocence of adolescence to their roles as adults caught up in an end-of-the-world crisis. Meanwhile, Earth is enveloped by an opaque bubble that slows down time on earth to the point that every passing second on the inside is equivalent to 3.7 years on the outside. As years whiz by outside, the citizens or Earth are threatened by the quickly approaching heat death of the sun, and a visit from a mysterious visitor from Mars. It’s a heady concept, but Wilson executes it brilliantly, and there is more than enough content in the story to create a tense and compelling mini-series.

Spin, along with Childhood’s End and Krypton is the latest in a series of efforts by Syfy to reinvigorate its network with original, science fiction-based programming. If they’re trying to catch the interest of core science fiction fans, they could do much worse than adapting Wilson’s work.

There is no announced air date for the Spin miniseries.


“John Rhys-Davies has been cast as King Eventine Elessedil, one of the most important characters in The Elfstones of Shannara,” announced the official Terry Brooks website, reporting on news posted by The Hollywood Reporter. The Welsh actor is best known for playing Sallah in the Indiana Jones films, and… Gimli the Dwarf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Yes. Jonathan Rhys-Davies will not only appear in screen adaptations of two of the most successful fantasy IPs of all time, but he will portray a dwarf in one and and elf in the other. What is this sick reality I’ve fallen into?

I’m… not sure what to think of this. I like Rhys-Davies, have since I was a kid and he was bouncing around alternate realities on Sliders, but his M.O. is exactly the opposite of the version of Eventine Elessedil that lives in my head. And, let’s be honest here, going from playing a dwarf to playing an elf is just too difficult for my brain to parse without getting a headache.

ivana-baquero-4Another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place for MTV’s adaptation of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara. Ivana Baquero, best known for her leading role in Guillermo del Toro’s haunting 2006 fantasy film, Pan’s Labyrinth.

Baquero has grown up a lot in the nine years since filming Pan’s Labyrinthe, but her youthfulness is sure to breathe life into Eretria, adopted daughter of the Rover Cephelo. Eretria is the more fiery counterpart to the measured elf Amberle, portrayed by Poppy Drayton. Predictably, the two of them form two of three points in a love triangle with the story’s protagonist, Wil Ohmsford (played by Austin Butler).

Eretria is one of the last major roles needing to be filled, but many minor and important roles still exist, including the Rover Cephelo, Eventine Elessidil, and the witches, Morag and Mallenroh. Baquero joins an international cast that also includes actors from Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and the USA.


MTV has announced the casting of Australian-New Zealand actor Manu Bennett as the Allanon in its adaptation of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara. This the fourth major role to be filled as casting continues for the ten-part miniseries, which airs in 2015.

Manu Bennett is the man behind the digital mask of (the much maligned) Azog from Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit. However, he’s probably better known for his role as Deathstroke on The Arrow. Judging by his physique in The Hobbit, Bennett has the size and athleticism necessary to play the lone Druid, so all that remains is the charismatic brooding and menace that make Allanon a fan favourite.

“Bennett will play Allanon, a druid who is the last of his kind in the world of Shannara,” said The Hollywood Reporter. “He is described as a wise, perceptive and serious man who knows something incredibly important has begun when the wise tree Ellcrys starts to die. He enlists Wil (Austin Butler) to fulfill his destiny and save the four lands.”

You ask me, there’s no more iconic character from my pre-teens and teens than Allanon. He’s right there with Gandalf and Alan Grant. Brooks’ Shannara novels were pivotal gateway pieces during my discovery of fantasy, and Allanon is a big part of the reason why I became so attached to Brooks’ world. There’s a gravitas to the Druid that helped to define the mentor/student role that has become a genre trope since Brooks released The Sword of Shannara 35 years ago.

Allanon is described in The Sword of Shannara as a towering, dark-skinned man, and it’s wonderful to see MTV following through on this by casting a Māori actor land for major role on the television series. I’d love to see this become a trend as MTV fills out the rest of the Shannara cast. Most of the characters Wil meets throughout the novel are Elvish (already established by the casting of Austin Butler and Aaron Jakubenko as a fair-skinned race), but there are a lot of other opportunities — notably Eretria and Cephelo, perhaps also Mallenroh — to cast native New Zealand or Australian actors in other roles.

Austin Butler, cast as Wil Ohmsford in MTV's Elfstones of Shannara

Austin Butler, cast as Wil Ohmsford in MTV’s Elfstones of Shannara

MTV has announced two more castings for its 10-part mini-series adaptation of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara, and they’re doozies: Wil Ohmsford, conflicted hero, and Ander Elessedil, trouble Elvish prince.

“Austin Butler is going from playing a 1980s heartthrob to portraying an elf,” The Hollywood Reporter reported today. “Butler will star as Wil Ohmsford, who is half human and half elf . [His] easygoing life is about to be turned upside down when he learns that he is the last of the legendary Shannara family. Charged with finding the Druid who will guide him to his destiny, Wil realizes his dangerous journey is just beginning.”

Wil Ohmsford is the central character around who the story’s large ensemble cast revolves. Unless the adaptation departs significantly from the novels, Wil is not active in seeking out this adventure. In fact, most of Brooks’ Shannara novels involve the protagonists being roped into saving the world against their will. We’ll see if this is true or not for the adaptation when it debuts in 2015. Read More »