Sci Fi UK, the sister channel of the U.S. channel of the same name, announced a deal Tuesday to produce its first original series. Well sort of original.
The network has been broadcasting programming that was either all reruns or series originally made for North American or Australian audiences.
The network is working with Canada’s SPACE: The Imagination Station, to overhaul its planned video-game-inspired Ice Planet series, which was being pitched to the syndication market in the United States as 22 one-hour episodes.
Since Sci Fi UK is now footing the bill, it installed former Sky One programming exec, Sara Johnson, as its Executive Producer and “Series Runner.” She will be in charge of making the show suitably British.
Sci Fi has been losing traction on the British Science Fiction TV arena to the BBC with its revamped Doctor Who series, which has been so successful the network is spinning off a second series based in the same universe with the popular character “Captain Jack” as the main hero of that new series.
Sci Fi UK is hoping to recapture the hearts of UK science fiction fans with its own very British sci-fi fare with Ice Planet. The show is scheduled to debut on Sci Fi UK in October 2006.
The series will be distributed internationally by CHUM TV, the parent comapny of the Space channel. But Sci Fi has secured full British distribution rights for Ice Planet. There is no confirmation (although there are overwhelming odds in favor) that Ice Planet will also appear on the U.S. Sci Fi Channel.
CHUM already had signed Canadian sci-fi veteran Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Splinter Cell)in the role of “Captain Jonus Trager” and British hunk Scott Adkins (Mutant X, The Pink Panther (2006)) as “Blade,” to of the series leads of the six-character ensemble cast. Unknowns and little-knowns had been used to fill out the rest of the cast for the pilot.
Sci FI UK said it will keep Ironside, but had not committed to the rest of the cast. The network did say it would be casting British actors in most of the roles, though.
The series was developed as an adaption of the popular video game of by the team who made the 2001 sci-fi TV series, Starhunter. The production will be shot by Canada’s SpaceWorks Entertainment which will shoot the entire series in Canada and the UK for $29 million in high definition.
***SPOILER WARNING: The Below Content May Reveal Key Plot Details***
A Preview of Ice Planet from the CHUM/SpaceWorks press release NOTE: With Sci Fi UK’s takeover, the U.S.-centric plot line and main concepts and settings are bound to be altered to a more UK-centric theme:
Episodic science fiction in the grand scale of Star Wars. A mythic tale of human survival in space told over a five-season arc.
Our tale begins on Earth in the present day… a day like any other. A woman, the world’s leading astrophysicist, is about to commit suicide. Before she can carry out her desperate final act, she receives an astonishing message from an alien intelligence. The prophetic message, part telepathic and part energy, warns of an impending disaster and directs her to a mysterious space-borne ice crystal in the jungles of Sumatra.
For it is there that a miracle is taking place – the ice crystal is transforming into an enormous spacecraft of mind-boggling technology. Its purpose largely unknown, the ship offers an irresistible lure to those who know of its existence: the promise of interstellar space travel in the early 21st century.
Just days before the maiden voyage of the ship now known as “Magellan”, the warnings of disaster come to pass. An armada of spacecraft unleashes a devastating attack on the Earth. The Magellan’s heroic crew manage to repel the assault, but not before most of Earth and its population are wiped out.
Now they must make an agonizing decision: stay to help the few left alive or abandon the survivors and take the Magellan to a rip in the fabric of space-time – a wormhole – that might allow them to go back in time and prevent the attack on Earth from happening.
Choosing to save all humanity, the crew enters the wormhole and crash lands on a frozen planet of stunning beauty and relentless danger – the ICE PLANET.
Marooned there, the crew becomes an integral part of the brutally harsh environment, threatened by the strange inhabitants and slowly learning of their own role in the epic war between two mysterious, highly advanced civilizations.
Their mission is as basic as it is imperative; survive, adapt, and learn the secret that will save the Earth and humanity from oblivion.
The Character Concepts (pre Sci-Fi UK takeover and are subject to change):
Trager (Ironside): U.S. Air Force General Jonas Trager is the Magellan Commander. He is a born leader, brilliant tactician and combat veteran with nerves of steel.
Caano: Full of drive and determination, Jay Canno’s life has been a constant
stream of accomplishment. This pursuit of excellence is matched by a surprisingly genuine and unjaded spirit — his heart is always in the right place, and he possesses undeniable physical courage.
Sinada: Sinada found escape from her hardscrabble upbringing when she enlisted in the USAF. Gifted with a laser-sharp mind and extraordinary physical prowess she rose quickly through the ranks and quickly caught the eye of General Jonas Trager.
Blade: Nicholas Blade is the “odd man in” among the crew of the Magellan. Never one to be a team player, Blade is the quintessential free lancer. When Britain’s super secret MI-7 needed a man to find the hybrid alien among the Magellan crew they hired outside their ranks. Blade was their man, hired despite a shadowy background that included stints as a smuggler, bandit and mercenary.
Eleni: Eleni’s origins are steeped in mystery. Discovered on the Ice Planet
minutes after the crash of the Magellan, she is the doppelganger of General Trager’s beloved daughter.
Rumla: Dr. Karen Rumla is a brilliant astrophysicist… a woman with an unparalleled understanding of the universe. But when it comes to her understanding of herself, Rumla isn’t nearly as accomplished.