the man who fell to earth tv series

CBS All Access announced that Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, and John Hlavin are developing a streaming series based on The Man Who Fell to Earth. The 1963 novel by Walter Tevis was previously adapted into a movie starring David Bowie, directed by Nicolas Roeg.

Kurtzman is already working with All Access on the Star Trek universe, with Discovery and Picard already in production and more Trek series in development. Here are a few hints we could glean from the press release and announcements.

A Modern Take?

The press release reads, “THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH will follow an alien who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution and must confront his own past to determine our future.” EVP of Original Content for CBS All Access Julie McNamara added, “There has never been a better moment to look at our world through the eyes of an outsider.”

The Roeg movie came out in 1976 at a time when environmental crises were starting to become a prominent issue. In the film, Thomas Jerome Newton (Bowie) comes from a planet dying of draught. Newton builds a spaceship with the hopes of bringing water to his home planet. Kurtzman and Lumet’s comments suggest the series will update Newton to reflect modern day inventors.

“Walter Tevis’ visionary novel gave us a tech god Willy Wonka from another planet, brought to life by David Bowie’s legendary performance, that foretold Steve Jobs’ and Elon Musk’s impacts on our world,” executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet said in the press release. “The series will imagine the next step in our evolution, seen through the eyes of an alien who must learn what it means to become human, even as he fights for the survival of his species.”

Delving Deeper

The Roeg movie runs 139 minutes. That’s a long time to explore, but 10 hours is longer. The mandate from CBS Television Studios seems to be to devote more time to Newton’s struggles. Considering how dire our climate change crisis has become, there will unfortunately be more issues for Newton to face on Earth. Then there are the governments and rival tech companies who would become suspicious of his technology.

“I’ve been a fan of this extraordinary film starring David Bowie for years,” David Stapf, President, CBS Television Studios said in the press release. “While no one can ever hope to surpass Bowie, bringing the film to series will allow for an ongoing detailed and nuanced exploration of the concepts established in the novel.”

That provides opportunity not only for more material from the book to be televised, but to add those modern updates too.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is due to premiere on CBS All Access in 2020.

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