How Fox's The Passage Is Changing The Books' Story, According To Mark-Paul Gosselaar

The Passage Mark-Paul Gosselaar Brad Wolgast Fox
(Image credit: Fox)

Like many book-to-screen adaptations, Fox's The Passage will be making some changes to its source material. Fans of Justin Cronin's book series may be wondering what alterations are in store for the adaptation. Explaining how the television series will modify the story, The Passage's Mark-Paul Gosselaar had this to say:

Specifically with The Passage, when you read the books, they're epic. They're enormous. So, where do you start? How do you tell the story of what is happening in just those books, in the future? How did that begin? Trying to tell that story in 90 minutes for a film is nearly impossible. That works better as a TV series. We have taken the first quarter of the first book and we've made 10 episodes out of that. Liz Heldens has taken information that was backstory in book three, and for some of the characters in book two, and brought it into the story that we're telling in the first season.

According to what Mark-Paul Gosselaar told Collider, The Passage is paving the way for multiple seasons to tell its story. Transitioning a book into a TV show is quite an undertaking and Gosselaar makes a salient point. Television is the right place to tell an epic story.

Given the wealth of pages to draw from, it seems as though The Passage will take its time unraveling the trilogy's first installment. This should be a good move that will keep the TV show from running out of its source material too quickly.

The pace at which it unfolds the books' story is not the only change The Passage has made. How much you will see Mark-Paul Gosselaar's character, Brad Wolgast, is another. Gosselaar explained how The Passage will deal with his character's arc, saying:

I immediately called Sharon Klein at 20th. I said, 'Have you read the books? I'm reading book two, and I don't see him in there.' She said, 'We're going to change that.' I said, 'You can't change it. That's the beauty of the story.' They jump to the future and other characters that are involved. She said, 'Listen, we're not getting rid of you.' I said, 'Okay, I'd like to know how you're going to keep him around.' So, Liz told me what they plan to do, and it makes sense. The book goes from present day to 150 years in the future. What happens between those 150 years? There's a lot of story that we can make up and insert, and still move forward with the story. I know that Liz had talked about Season 2 possibly being the next part of the book, where it will travel forward into the future.

It is a change from the books that fans of the Saved by the Bell star are likely to welcome. It sounds as though The Passage will flesh out the story explicitly missing from the novels. Mark-Paul Gosselaar did not reveal how the show intends to keep his character around.

Based on what fans of the novels can take from what Mark-Paul Gosselaar has revealed so far, they do know a lot. For one, that Season 1 will adapt the first book's opening quarter, with some of the later novels' relevant information sewn in.

If that pacing were to hold, The Passage could spend three more seasons on the first book alone. Meaning the entire show could theoretically unfold over twelve seasons. It is an ambitious notion that speaks to the need for a lot of long-term planning.

The minds behind The Passage still have time to sort out all the details. The popular book series has seen its share of changes from how it was originally supposed to be adapted. As you may have guessed from Mark-Paul Gosselaar's first quote or known beforehand, The Passage was initially set to be brought to the screen in film form.

As a character-based story, The Passage should benefit from the finessed effect of being told on television. There is a lot of rich story that a movie would have had to skip through. A TV show will not have to make those sacrifices for time.

Fans will have to tune in to see what other book-to-TV changes get made and how they are handled as the series continues. The Passage airs right after The Resident at 9 p.m. ET on Fox. They are among a strong slate of new content awaiting viewers throughout the midseason year.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.