My kind of franchise

For over a year now I’ve been thinking about a TV series “franchise”, but a conversation about it I had with JBQ today made me decide to write about it. I hope some TV exec reads about it, likes it, and materialize it — given enough funds.

The idea is to have five one-hour TV series (Mon to Fri), 12 episodes per season each, for 3 seasons (hard deadlines and concrete stories, no fillers). The year is somewhere around 2230.

Series 1: Takes place on Earth. The old country tries to hold together both the planet, its colonies, its corporations, and a new (perceived) enemy for human kind: the transcending to complete cyber entities.
Series 2: Takes place in orbit, between a space station that it fights to not get out of commission, and a space Elevator. The two compete as to which one will be the main hub for commerce and supplies.
Series 3: Takes place on the Moon, on a mining colony. It’s the oldest space colony, out of fashion, and therefore it doesn’t get enough favors from Earth’s government.
Series 4: Takes place on Mars. The machinations and politics of a colony of 250k people trying to gain independence.
Series 5: Takes place on Io. The orbiting spaceship and research colony on the surface are on the farthest reach in our solar system, almost forgotten, but they hold an ace on their sleeve regarding the next big step of the human kind.

Each series will have its own storyline and characters, but the bigger issues will be inter-connecting, as everything usually is when it comes to politics. Every episode title would also include the date, so future viewers can find the correct order of how to view all 5 series in a way that it’s most satisfying and logical. In terms of atmosphere I’d gun for something between the third season of Babylon 5, LOST, and SGU. Many different topics would have to be explored, including genetics and eugenics, the role of politics, corporations and military in any decision made and how this affects everyone, what it means to be human etc, etc.

I want to challenge my viewers. For example, when one decision is made by some figure of authority, which might be the correct decision for his/her people, it might have devastating consequences for the people of the other series. In politics, often there is no black and white, and usually what’s good for one country it might be bad for another (e.g. lobbying on keeping low wages for Haitians in order to keep having cheap Levi’s in the US). I want people to think about these things, and such TV series can help with that if done right.

At the very end of the series, I’d like to show what sacrifices must be done, what alliances, destruction, and even… DNA changes must happen to get to that next step of the human kind: the new ability to create stable wormholes, and explore & colonize the galaxy. But this won’t come cheap. I can promise this much.

Update, 5th Oct 2013: Production-wise it’d probably be overwhelming to have that many series with interconnecting characters and storylines, where everything has to check out between all of them. I think that 3 series, with 8 episodes each, for 3 seasons, is a much more realistic goal: Earth + space station, Moon + freighters, Mars + Io.

A smart way to emulate the “flashbacks” from LOST would be to show in one of the series that something happened on the other, but without knowing the details, until that series goes live a few weeks later. For example, in a videoconferencing with Moon taking place in the Earth series, it’s mentioned that 5 people died, one of them high ranking. But only when the Moon series goes on air, we find what happened, and who exactly died. Or, we could have a main character officially quit, or arrested, but again, we won’t know what happened, until we see their point of view a few weeks later.

So basically, the storylines can intertwine in a smart fashion to create suspense, mystery, and a believable universe where every decision or action in one place, can affect other places, so far away.

Another thing to mention is that I’d expect a huge cast for each series, not the usual 6-8 characters per show, but more like 8 main characters, plus another 30-40 recurring ones (plus guest stars from the other series, when the storyline warrants it). Kind of like LOST, that is. It’d be a complex, deep show, but that’s exactly its beauty.

Finally, for all this to work as intended, the story must be worked out from the very beginning. Not made as they go along, but rather, most details have to be worked out from the beginning of the whole story until its end — before filming even starts! The studio must guarantee these 3 seasons for each series (72 episodes overall).


Glenn wrote on August 19th, 2011 at 3:11 AM PST:

That definitely sounds like something I would watch!

Andreas wrote on August 20th, 2011 at 2:32 AM PST:

Oh, yes. This would be really something to watch!

Jeremy wrote on August 20th, 2011 at 11:41 AM PST:

I desperately crave hard science fiction, and this would be right up my alley. But unfortunately it’ll never happen, because executives know that most of the unwashed masses’ idea of sci-fi is Shia LaBeouf fighting giant robots. It’s a shame.

Yanni wrote on August 21st, 2011 at 10:02 PM PST:

Fabulous idea. The only problem is having to commit to five different series. It’s like a job.

zima wrote on August 22nd, 2011 at 12:21 AM PST:

Would be fun to see.

Unfortunately, spitting on SGU possibly killed ambitious scifi series for a couple of years… (is there ANYTHING coming this year or next? Sure, scifi series usually “sneak up” a bit, but there seems to be nothing :/ )

Regarding topics you sort of list, Eugenia – what, no religion?! 😉 (hm, you did mention Lost there…)

Vassilis Perantzakis wrote on August 26th, 2011 at 3:49 AM PST:

Start writing the books first… I would read them

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