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One of the most shocking and upsetting cancellations of the 2017-2018 TV season was The Expanse. The Syfy series had a loyal following of fans and was critically acclaimed from the very beginning, and it only got better as the seasons passed. A fourth season seemed like a sure thing. Fortunately, The Expanse had fans in high places as well as a whole bunch of viewers campaigning for the show to return, and Amazon stepped in to rescue the series after its initial cancellation. Expanse star Cas Anvar (Alex Kamal) chatted with CinemaBlend about what the move to Amazon and streaming means for fans:
It's changed the whole equation and it provides some challenges for traditional television show... In the end, we're going to get to work on a platform, a pure streaming platform which has less restrictions time-wise, we don't have to edit for time so much, we're not bound to a 47 minute timeline. Some episodes can be longer, some can be shorter, and there's less restrictions on us in terms of content, so we can really honor the books.
Streaming services like Amazon Prime simply don't have to worry about producing TV episodes that only run a certain length to accommodate commercials and primetime lineups. Sure, premium cable networks like HBO and Starz can air supersized episodes of shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander, but Syfy has its limits aside from special events like an extended season premiere or finale event, as will be used to close out Season 3. The Expanse can go longer or shorter for Season 4 episodes, which could mean stories won't be scrunched or stretched in ways that may not be 100% ideal. Syfy did a great job with episodes; perhaps Amazon could do even better.
Cas Anvar also teased that there will be fewer limits on what the show can do with regard to content, which could mean The Expanse adapting certain parts of the source material novels that never would have made it to basic cable. Syfy did allow The Expanse to drop the occasional F-bomb and the show never shied away from airing sex scenes, but perhaps even more boundaries will be pushed in the streaming fourth season. Although The Expanse has always been good about adapting key elements of the books, readers should be especially excited about the fourth season. Besides, unlike Game of Thrones, The Expanse has not outpaced its source material. There's undoubtedly a lot to look forward to.
The Expanse actor went on to explain why The Expanse is such a good fit for a streaming platform like Amazon:
Oh, it's definitely bingeable! I mean, that's part of the thing. The show is a bingeable show. That's why it was having challenges on the traditional cable network, because fans like to binge it. It's a very complicated, rich, layered, dense story and you don't to just watch one episode, you want to watch two, three, four episodes. Some people want to watch the entire season in two days. So being obligated to watch it one week at a time is not necessarily what our fans wanted to do.
Although The Expanse certainly won a loyal following of fans who watched from week to week, it's the kind of show that leaves viewers wanting more right off the bat, especially in an era of many shows' availability for binge-watching on streaming platforms. Many of us are simply used to the option of watching multiple episodes in a row to follow stories to their ends rather than wait a block of time before discovering what happens next. In fact, Cas Anvar revealed that The Expanse is a big hit when it comes to post-live viewing on platforms like Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix internationally. With the move to Amazon, The Expanse can be binged in Season 4.
All of this said, Syfy still did a remarkable job in adapting the Expanse novels to television, and Cas Anvar was clear that he has no issues with how the network handled the series while it was on. If The Expanse had been anything less than incredible, it surely wouldn't have accumulated such a passionate fanbase and won such critical acclaim over the years. Here's what Anvar had to say about Syfy's handling of The Expanse:
Syfy did an amazing job of bringing the show to life and honoring the books, and it was a dark, gritty, intelligent show and Syfy really, really delivered. They put a really great show out for three seasons. So no real complaints on that end in terms of the artistic integrity of the show. They had a few little restrictions that they had to honor because of being on a traditional cable show, but it was not anything that compromised the quality of the show.
All's well that ends well, and it sounds like fans can be quite happy that Amazon is the platform that stepped in to save The Expanse. While we may have a big wait on our hands before the show makes its Amazon debut with new episodes, the knowledge that it is coming back with some exciting changes could sustain even the most impatient of us. All the work to get The Expanse renewed paid off, and now it's just a matter of waiting.