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.

Filed under: TV

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