Sci Fi (SyFy) Orders Three ‘New’ Mini-Series

Sci Fi announced today that they are ordering three new four-hour miniseries from RHI Entertainment, the people behind the successful Tin Man mini-series.

First up is a re-telling of Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, which is due this upcoming winter. Nick Willing will write and direct, which is a good thing as he did the writing and directing on Tin Man, which I felt did an admirable job of re-telling the Wizard of Oz in an interesting manner. They are looking to add a ‘modern twist’ to the classic story, and executive VP Mark Stern points out that the original story is more about scenery than character, allowing the writers more leeway for their version. I’ve always liked the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, now I’ll have to go back and re-watch it. And if it helps sell more of the books, that’s a good thing.


Next up will be an adaptation of the comic superhero, The Phantom. Apparently the Billy Zane film version didn’t quite kill off this property, and with superheroes being big (hello Dr. Manhattan!) right now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Sci Fi would find a lesser superhero property to bring to the screen. The quote as to why The Phantom:

“That there hasn’t been a successful ‘Phantom’ leaves the door wide open for us, since nobody has made it their own yet,” Halmi said.

That’s one way to look at it I guess. As of right now, I have no desire to see this.

Lastly, SciFi is adapting Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series. Again. Not content to have mutilated it the first time they apparently want to drag it through the mud a second time.

Riverworld, about a photojournalist transported to a mysterious world occupied by everyone who has ever lived on Earth, could have the most series potential if producers pull off the novel’s tricky combination mixing a modern protagonist with reborn historical figures.

Right up there with “you don’t tug on Superman’s cape” and “you don’t spit into the wind” is “you don’t muck with Farmer’s world”. If you do, you’re just asking for a giant cluster to be unleashed on viewers (see previous version). A photojournalist is ‘transported’ to a mysterious world? Bah! It’s much more interesting the original way, but maybe I’m being a snob.

Both of the last two mini-series are “back door” pilots for series (to be aired next year), but so was the first Riverworld and we see how well that worked out. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see a faithful adaptation of Riverworld on TV, and to be fair, the new one is much closer than the previous version. I’ll probably watch to see if it’s a train wreck or not.

4 thoughts on “Sci Fi (SyFy) Orders Three ‘New’ Mini-Series”

  1. Sigh.

    I thought that “Tin Man” was more interesting than not, although I don’t think Zooey Deschenal can act her way out of a wet paper bag. She’s from the Keanu Reeves school of acting (more woodier than wood). And actually, I thought it shot itself in the foot a little because Richard Dryfuss came on for a bit, out-acted everyone else and dominated the screen, and mde it hard to follow.

    But it was fun, even with the “Dee-Gee” and “Oh-Zee” and stuff. It was good dorky fun. So if they do a similar spin on Alice and Wonderland, well, I can survive that. But how will they top the live-action version of the Mad Hatter as played by Martin Short, years back?

    As for the Phantom…I liked the Phantom. Not the movie version, just the original pulpy character himself. Not enough to be jumping up and down excited about this. They’ll have to convince me.

    And Riverworld…

    Sigh again.

    I adore Riverworld. Book 1 blew my mind, I’m reading book 2 right now. They’re astonishing works, they are just unimaginably epic and cool and clever. I mean, the use of DEATH in the stories is brilliant. They are a SF series on par with Asimov’s Foundation, if you ask me. Now if you did the whole series in a faithful TV adaption, THAT would be fantastic. But the odds of that are so slim, I suppose SyFy is gonna just do damage to it. (Actually, I’d quite like to see HBO do it, for some reason).

    Ah well. At least they’re Imaginating Greaterer. :D

  2. Well, while I’m not terribly excited about any of those, I am now intrigued by the idea of the Riverworld books (which I’ve never heard of), so I’m going to see if my library has them. Thanks for the lead on a new series for me to read!

  3. Rachel,

    You should absolutely read the Riverworld series. They are some of the best worldbuilding you’ll find anywhere (despite what hater John says).

  4. This is what SyFy is Greaterly Imaginating?

    Tin Man was at least a new twist, that’s about all you can say about it. Zoey doesn’t have her sister’s acting ability, Richard Dryfus stole the show in two scenes – it didn’t inhale deeply through a straw like the typical SyFy fare, but it wasn’t anything to tell your friends about, either.

    You can just tell what they’ll do to these things by the track record they’ve established, I think. Eureka’s fun when it’s on, but when you go an entire year between short seasons, it’s easy to forget. I never did watch Battlestar, and never wished I had. Stargate was good for half it’s lifespan . . . etc.

    Maybe I’m just sayin’ nay today, but my general impression of these new things is “meh”.

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