Tonight, December 14, 2015, 2 new series will premiere on the Syfy network. It seems like an odd time of the year to premiere new series; but Syfy is doing just that; although one of them is a 6-hour miniseries, and the other will be 10 episodes.
Both series feature black actors in key roles.
1 – First, from 8pm to 10pm, the first episode of the 6-hour miniseries adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s "Childhood’s End," airs. The series follows a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule, at the cost of human identity and culture.
Osy Ikhile is part of an ensemble cast, playing a lead role – a character named Milo Rodricks. Syfy’s press release describes him as follows: The term "boy genius" might have been invented just for Milo Rodricks (P.S. if you read the books, Milo is the equivalent of Jan Rodricks). The only thing greater than his intellect is his curiosity, which goes into overdrive with the arrival of Karellen and the Overlords to Earth. Rodricks represents what is lost in the great "evolutionary" changes that are wrought when the children of humanity join the Overmind. When humanity is still enjoying its utopia under the auspices of the Overlords, Rodrick becomes dissatisfied with life. He wants to explore the stars, and to visit planets as the Overlords do. He represents humanity’s inability to ever be satisfied, to ever be truly content, or have its curiosity sated. It is admirable that he rejects the blandness and boredom of utopia in favor of taking risks, like sneaking onto the Overlords’ ship. It seems likely that there would be many more men and women like him in a world such as the Overlords’. Satisfaction in life, no matter how good, has never been one of humanity’s strong suits. Rodrick is a symbol of that truth, and it is fitting that he is the last witness to the destruction and transfiguration of mankind."
Speaking to the last sentence, Arthur C. Clarke is said to have made an intentional choice to make the last surviving member of the human species (Rodricks) a black man.
I’ll be checking this out eventually, as I’m curious to see how Syfy adapted the novel, which really doesn’t have a main character, or a single character through whose eyes the story unfolds. And Rodricks actually is a full character, with agency (at least, in the book).
Watch a brief character profile of Rodricks, as well as another character he’ll be mostly entangled with (Rachel Osaka), in the series. And check out the first 2-hour episode tonight, starting at 8pm.
2 – And second, also premiering tonight on Syfy, at 10pm, after "Childhood’s end," catch Dominique Tipper & Chad Coleman as part of an ensemble cast in Syfy’s new space opera "The Expanse," which centers on the crew of a space ship, who discover a derelict vessel which holds a secret that may be devastating to human existence.
This hour-long, ten episode series is based on the New York Times bestselling book series collectively known as "The Expanse," written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (under the pen name James S. A. Corey).
Synopsis: Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system. The U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The planets rely on the resources of the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising between these three places. Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. And all it will take is a single spark. It is within this future that "The Expanse" begins. The series follows the case of a missing young woman that brings a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain together in a race across the solar system that will expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.
Tipper is a series regular, playing a character named Naomi Nagata. Her character’s bio reads: Growing up on poor Belter mining ships meant that Naomi’s early life was lived on a knife’s edge: nearly suffocating, starving, and becoming marooned were regular occurrences throughout her childhood. Self-educated with multiple advanced degrees, and having risen to the rank of Chief Engineer aboard the ice hauler Canterbury (which supplies water for the Asteroid Belt’s residents), she appears to be a model Belter success story, though she carries with her a secret pain. She is cagey about her past, even with her closest friends. She abhors violence, but has witnessed enough injustice to understand the necessity of it. Her complicated relationship with violence and her troubled history have lead to an unlikely friendship with the Canterbury’s mechanic, Amos Burton
Meanwhile, Coleman has a recurring role, playing Fred Lucius Johnson. His character’s bio reads: The Chief of Operations at Tycho Station’s colossal mobile construction platform, Frederick Lucius Johnson oversees the construction of space stations, the spinning up of asteroids, and in recent years the construction of mankind’s first generation starship: the Nauvoo. A retired Colonel with the UN Marines, Fred is notorious for his involvement in a UN military action that will live on in infamy. Since his disgrace he has sought solace and penance working to better the life of Belters all over the system. Fred is an outspoken advocate for the Outer Planets Alliance, a Belter advocacy group who seek legitimacy, but are often accused of terrorism.
The hour-long series debuts tonight at 10 pm on Syfy. But the network released the first episode online a couple of weeks ago, which I hared on this blog. So some of you may have already watched it. The rest of you who are interested can either watch it now below, or tune in to Syfy tonight at 10pm, to watch it then.