his dark materials season 3

His Dark Materials is returning for a third, and likely final, season. The fantasy-adventure series adaptation of Philip Pullman’s acclaimed series has been renewed for a third season by HBO and BBC One. The news doesn’t come as a complete surprise, as the first two seasons adapted the first two books in Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy of novels, but it will — for the first time — bring Pullman’s complete vision of his story to the screen.

HBO programming’s executive vice president, Francesca Orsi, announced Tuesday that HBO and BBC One have ordered His Dark Materials season 3, with production slated to begin in Cardiff in 2021. The third season will likely follow the events of the third, and final, book in Pullman’s trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, following the first two seasons’ adaptations of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife.

“Bringing Phillip Pullman’s epic, intricate and culturally resonant body of work to television has been a tremendous privilege,” Orsi said in a statement. “We thank our incredible partners at the BBC and the entire Bad Wolf team, led by the indefatigable Jane Tranter, for their exceptional work on the first two seasons. We look forward to completing the trilogy with this final chapter in Lyra’s journey.”

Added executive producer Jane Tranter, “His Dark Materials has been a truly global TV experience and a personal career highlight. The creative team at Bad Wolf in Cardiff made the impossible possible and brought Philip Pullman’s worlds into vivid life.  To see that hard work and dedication applauded and embraced by fans around the world has made all the hard work worthwhile. None of this would have been possible without the wonderful commitment and conviction of the BBC and HBO. I am excited, thrilled and honoured to be making the third part of Philip Pullman’s trilogy with their support and encouragement. Diolch.”

The news comes as His Dark Materials prepares to air its season 2 finale in the U.S. next week (the finale having already aired a week earlier in the U.K.). While it seemed a foregone conclusion that a third season would be happening, it’s nice to get official confirmation as the series enjoys its best season yet. As I wrote in my review of the second season, “His Dark Materials overcomes the growing pains of season 1 and finally comes into its own as a series, the dark tone and sprawling scale of the show — which had previously made the show feel unusually dour and self-serious for its action-adventure structure — finally gelling as the larger (divine) plot kicks in.”

And I anticipate the third season will only get better, as The Amber Spyglass is when Pullman fully commits to his subversive retelling of Paradise Lost. While Tranter suggests this will be the final season by citing the “final chapter” in Lyra’s journey, I wonder if BBC and HBO would be eager to continue the saga by adapting Pullman’s new additions to the series, The Book of Dust trilogy. It would be a harder story to adapt (mostly because the Book of Dust novels just aren’t as good as his first trilogy), but I wouldn’t put it past them.

His Dark Materials airs its season 2 finale on HBO on December 28 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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