Disney has ordered an Alien TV series and it’s being headed up by Fargo (for TV) creator Noah Hawley – and it’ll be coming to HULU and Disney+
Ridley Scott attempted to answer many questions when he returned to the Alien universe with Prometheus in 2012. The film itself, while visually impressive both in its looks and scope, lacked the punch and grittiness of his iconic Alien (1979) movie, resulting in a fair-to-meek reception.
To be fair to Scott, he deliberately moved away from the Alien, preferring instead to explore its origins and, by proxy, that of us humans too. It was part Erich Von Daniken, part Alien movie. But it just fell a little flat. Punters were promised answers, none were given. Just vague nods about who or what the engineers were.
Alien Covenant, the sequel, was more traditional in its approach but, again, it lacked the finesse, substance, and raw power of its predecessors, Alien and Aliens. Two swings and two misses for Mr. Scott, then. But could Noah Hawley do any better? Might he pull off what Denis Villeneuve did with Bladerunner 2049?
The Alien TV Series: What We Know So Far…
All that’s confirmed thus far is that Disney wants to make an Alien TV series and that Noah Hawley, the man behind Netflix’s brilliant and utterly bonkers Fargo TV series, is heading it up.
As for the plot of the Alien TV series, nothing is known officially. But Hawley has stated in a couple of interviews that he wants to see what would happen if the greedy execs in the company were exposed to the Xenomorph.
All the movies to date have focussed on a gritty band of working-class characters – either colonial marines or space-faring truckers or, as in Alien 3, prisoners. We’ve yet to see anything on the screen where Weyland-Yutani execs are exposed to the xenomorph, and this seems to be the direction Hawley wants to take the series.
This tells me a couple of things: the first is that The Company, Weyland Yutani, will be a focal point of the series. This means greedy execs, corporate shenanigans, tales of excess, greed, and eventual downfall at the hands of the beast the company tried to tame.
Hawley has PLENTY of material to go as well; there are myriad Alien graphic novels and novels in print. I’m currently reading Alien: Cold Forge at the moment and it is brilliant; it has the terror of the original film, elements of Alien Isolation, and a brilliant set of characters to boot.
If you’re a fan of the Alien series, and Prometheus and Covenant left you feeling deeply unsatisfied, Alien: Cold Forge is well worth a read. I’m about 60% of the way through the Kindle version and it is an absolute blast. And part of the reason why it is so good is that you learn more about Weyland Yutani, The Company.
The novel focuses, once again, on The Company’s interest in weaponizing the xenomorph but it has a side-story about using its DNA to potentially cure diseases. As usual, though, the xenomorphs get out and all hell breaks loose.
Alien TV Series Plot
Given Hawley’s track record, I think it is fairly safe to assume that the Alien TV series will be dark and nasty – just as it should. His skill as a director and writer at creating truly grotesque characters and storylines, as well as unique plot twists is one of his strong suits.
What Hawley did with Fargo was incredible. He took an already solid and critically-acclaimed film and reworked it into a trio of brilliantly executed seasons that more than stood up on their own merit. I personally loved the first season, how it tied in with the movie, and the third season was utterly superb too.
According to Hawley, who has now written two scripts, the Alien TV series will be set on earth in the “not too distant future”. It will feature an ensemble cast, covering Weyland-Yutani execs, likely a young Peter Weyland, and, of course, a strong female lead – Hawley is keen on creating a new Ellen Ripley for the 21st century.
And because the Alien TV series is set in the “not too distant future” this likely means it takes place before the events of Prometheus and Covenant, as well as the original Alien and Aliens films. This gives Hawley much more creative license, not just with how Weyland-Yutani is portrayed but also with how the aliens are woven into the story.
Basically, the Alien TV series will not be dependent on the OG Alien film like Prometheus, it will be able to forge new ground, create its own universe, and, perhaps, provide more concrete answers about the genesis and creation of the xenomorph.
Hawley has also stated that his TV series will focus heavily on the divisions between the working and corporate classes. He said this will be done as a nod to how messed up things are today, and to show what happens when you have a burgeoning class war with the added bonus of aliens running around.
Alien TV Series Cast – Who’s Confirmed So Far?
Because the Alien TV series is currently in development, nothing is known about who’s being cast as what. We know there’ll be a strong female lead akin to Ripley and Elizabeth from Alien and Prometheus, but that’s about it.
Because of the scope of the project, and given Hawley’s recent successes, we could see some seriously big names added to the Alien TV series. It’d be amazing to see Guy Pearce get to play a young Peter Weyland, although how this will work will depend on the timeline – Hawley will need to respect the current cannon.
I could definitely see Mary Elizabeth Winstead taking on the role of the new Ripley; Hawley worked with her in Fargo Season 3 and she was great in that. Ditto 10 Cloverfield Lane and Death Proof. As for male leads, the sky’s the limit – I imagine plenty of actors would be chomping at the bit to have a role in this series.
Alien TV Series Release Date – When’s It Coming Out?
COVID has messed up the film industry massive, resulting in massive delays on a huge number of films. The entire industry had to basically take a year off, although things are starting to pick up again, thanks to increases in vaccinations and a better understanding of the disease.
As for when the Alien TV series will come out, the bad news is it probably won’t be until at least 2023 at the earliest. Hawley has said the series will probably start shooting in 2022, although that still hasn’t been confirmed.
The good news, however, is the Alien TV series is happening, it is now being actively developed, scripts have been written, and shooting and production should commence during 2022. And once that happens, we’ll learn more about casting and its plot.
The Alien TV series will likely debut on FX, Hulu, and Disney+ when it eventually lands at some point during 2023.
Why Not Use The Alien Spin-Off Novels?
I’m a self-confessed alien geek. I literally cannot get enough of the universe created back in 1979. I love the mythology, the evil corporations, and of course the mystery surrounding the genesis and creation of the xenomorph.
I also really dislike how Ridley Scott effectively removed nearly all the magic and mystery about the alien in Alien: Covenant. If you haven’t seen that film, David created them using the black goo and Elizabeth Shaw’s reproductive system. And while this is fine and dandy, the Alien graphic novels and spin-off novels are far more creative.
In the alien novels/comics universe, the aliens actually have their own planet, Xenomorph Prime, where they all live, alongside a mega queen. The black goo isn’t really a thing; that was created in Prometheus as a biological weapon to be used against humans.
In the comic/graphic novel Alien universe, the aliens are just that: aliens – they have their own ecosystem and world, just like the predators. The aliens’ interaction with humans is not lessened by this either, in fact, I’d argue it makes them even more terrifying – they evolved naturally, on their own planet, with their own rules and caste systems.
The OG Alien film and James Cameron’s Aliens are still the best movies about the xenomorph. Everybody knows this. The others, while entertaining, are forgettable at best. And that goes for Prometheus and Covenant as well. But the graphic novels and spin-off novels? They’re amazing – I’d argue as good as any movie that has been produced.
Even the game, Alien: Isolation, stands on its own two feet as a brilliant addition to the Alien canon. But for me, as a reader, it is the spin-off novels that are the best and most entertaining foray into the world of the Aliens, Weyland Yutani, and the universe that Ridley Scott kick-started in 1979.
I’ve already mentioned Alien: Cold Forge, that book is outstanding. But the scope and breadth of the novels now readily available in the Alien universe is immense. And every single one of them is vastly better than anything that came out in the movies post Aliens.
Take Alien: Phalanx, for instance, which is basically a mash-up of Game of Thrones and Aliens. It’s brilliant, super-entertaining, and a totally unique spin on the Alien concept. How do you take on a colony of Aliens with sticks and swords!? It’s tough, brutal, and requires immense levels of cunning and a total rejigging of how the humans in the story live.
And it’s not just books either. You have Audible Original productions based in the Alien universe too. None of which are quite as good as the novels in the canon, but they’re definitely worth a listen if you have a few hours to spare and are a fan of the Aliens movies.
This is what frustrates me so much about all the Alien films that followed Alien. Nowadays, there are literally 10 or 20 really solid books based in the Alien universe that could be adapted into a series of movies or TV shows. Alien: Phalanx would make for a brilliant TV show. It has all the trappings of a huge, world-building mega-series like Game of Thrones.
Why not just adapt one of these books into a TV show? Nearly all of them are totally original, devilishly entertaining, and respectful to the authentic mythology of the beast. I am really excited to see what Noah does with his Alien TV show, but I’d also love to see something like Alien: Phalanx get turned into a TV show as well.
Fingers crossed Noah does a better job than Ridley. And if not, Disney, here’s my solution to the problem of reinventing the alien franchise – turn Alien: Phalanx into a TV show – it’d be huge.
This post will be updated as soon as we learn more, so keep it bookmarked if you want to know more about the Alien TV series…
Up Next: Find Out What The Critics Thought of Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
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