American TV network ABC is apparently in the geek business. They’re currently in production with the Joss Whedon directd/scripted pilot episode of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.- a spin-off from the Avengers franchise - but apparently having a grip on just comic geeks is not good enough. Word has now come out that they’re also considering the long in development (seriously, Yoda was still in diapers when this thing was announced) live-action Star Wars TV series title Star Wars: Underworld
ABC president Paul Lee recently spoke to EW, where he revealed the network’s intentions with the series:
“We’d love to do something with Lucasfilm, we’re not sure what yet. We haven’t even sat down with them. We’re going to look at [the live-action series], we’re going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren’t able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation.”
Now, if you recall correctly, the show was intended as a more darker, mature look at the underbelly of the Star Wars universe, which now-retired Lucasfilm producer Rick McCallum – who initially championed this idea, getting the likes of Ron Moore and others to already pen 50 hours worth of scripts for it – described as the most “provocative, bold and daring material that we’ve ever done.”
And that was the problem. Billed at approximately $5 million dollars per episode, the show was going to be ludicrously expensive, and for any network, taking on that risk was always going to be a big ask. HBO is currently producing Game of Thrones for about that price, but the difference there is that HBO owns some of the rights to the show, so they recoup their expenses on the back-end with DVD and Blu Ray sales. Lucasfilm owns all of Star Wars and want to keep it that way, which is what was putting off a number of networks.
That all changed when George Lucas signed on the dotted line though. Disney owns ABC and with their recent purchase of Lucasfilm, it meant that all the money would essentially now stay in-house, which sounds a whole lot more compelling to the bean counters over at the Magic Kingdom.
Also the fact that Underworld is intending to focus more on the fringe elements of the Star Wars universe, instead of competing with the movies by telling stories around the franchise’s central characters, could help it’s chances tremendously. This expanding of the tapestry is something that appeals to Lee.
“It’s going to be very much up to the Lucasfilm brands how they want to play it. We got to a point here with Marvel, a very special point, where we’re in the Marvel universe, and very relevantly so, but we’re not doing The Avengers. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is [still] part of The Avengers [though]. So maybe something oblique is the way to [approach the Star Wars universe] rather than going straight head-on at it.
Over a year’s worth of pre-production work, including concept art, character designs, animatics and the aforementioned 50 hours worth of completed scripts, have already been developed for this project, and it certainly sounds pretty intriguing, so lets hope that this all comes together. We can never have too much geeky sci-fi on TV.