Having recently rewatched Steven Spielberg's 10-part sci-fi miniseries Taken, I've been wondering why more networks aren't exploring these compelling miniseries, which pull us into the story, take a little bit of time to develop the characters, execute the plot with a steady pace and then tie it all up with a satisfying conclusion. As much as we love shows that go on for seasons, there's really something to be said for those miniseries or - as Fox puts it in a recent announcement - "long form event series" that tell a story and conclude over the stretch of a season. Fox's announcement about two projects indicates that, at the very least, they're looking to explore this type of story-telling.
Fox announced two projects in development, which they describe as long-form event series (10-12 "parts" or episodes). The first of the development deals goes to M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, and the upcoming sci-fi film After Earth). Wayward Pines is based on a best-selling novel by Blake Crouch and is described as an "intense, mind-bending thriller evocative of the classic cult hit Twin Peaks…
Secret Service agent ETHAN BURKE arrives in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, on a mission to find two missing federal agents. But instead of answers, Ethan’s investigation only turns up more questions. What’s wrong with Wayward Pines? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the life he knew, from the husband and father he was, until he must face the terrifying reality that he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. WAYWARD PINES is based on a spec script written by Chad Hodge (“The Playboy Club”) and executive-produced by Shyamalan, Hodge, Donald De Line (“Green Lantern,” “The Italian Job”) and Ashwin Rajan (“After Earth”).
Shyamalan has taken some flack in recent years for some of his lesser celebrated films (The Last Airbender, The Happening), but I appreciate his approach to story-telling, so I'll be interested to see how he does with this story and the format for the series.
The other project Fox is putting into development is Blood Brothers, which comes from Bruce C. McKenna and is based on the true story of the West Point Class of 1861.
As our bitterly divided country tore itself apart over the issue of slavery, the West Point Brotherhood broke apart. Best friends, bonded in the intense crucible of the Academy, found themselves on opposite sides of a conflict that quickly became the bloodiest in U.S. history. For four violent years, these former comrades fought directly against each other, even as many of them rose from lowly second lieutenants to field generals. Throughout the conflict, however, they never lost their love and esteem for each other, which often resulted in many acts of kindness that stretched across enemy lines. Some died; others were broken by the conflict. But every one of the Brothers was utterly changed by a war that not only redefined America, but which still resonates today. BLOOD BROTHERS is written by McKenna, and executive-produced by McKenna, Randall and Bogart.
McKenna was a writer on both Band of Brothers and The Pacific, so he knows a little something about miniseries and the brotherhood of men during war, so that experience should come in handy for a story like this.
Both projects sound interesting, but they're just in the development phase. Fox says they'll order their first event series pilot(s) later this year and plan to debut the first long-form event series in 2014. We'll be sure to update you on both of these if and when there's word about whether or not they're going forward.