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Every once in a while a project comes along that has the potential to be something truly special, something that we’ll be obsessing over for years if it all comes together properly. The upcoming military science fiction series Incursion is one of those projects, and it just rocketed to the top of my “most anticipated” list. The brainchild of Spartacus creator Steven S. DeKnight, Incursion once again finds him working with Starz, this time on a female-led sci-fi series inspired by James Cameron’s Aliens. If you’ll excuse me, I need to wipe the fan drool off my keyboard.
We first reported on Incursion last July, when Deadline revealed that it would follow a squad of soldiers in a war between humanity and an alien species, with each season set on a different planet as the war progresses. Speaking to the Huffington Post, DeKnight explained how important a touchstone James Cameron’s science fiction classic is for Incursion: “Nobody does future military better than James Cameron: His designs are just brilliant, and we definitely wanted to push that even to the next level.” DeKnight added, “If you love things like Halo, Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, that kind of thing, then I think you’ll really enjoy this show.”
Taking another page from Cameron and the character of Ellen Ripley, Incursion’s main lead will be a female, representative of DeKnight’s approach which will have both men and women on the front lines on distant worlds. DeKnight’s decision to cast a female lead isn’t surprising: his Spartacus series featured numerous strong, complex female characters, and his early career was spent writing for Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dollhouse. To say Whedon knows a thing or two about writing compelling female characters would be an understatement.
A show like Incursion can be a massive undertaking, so DeKnight says the focus will be on the human side of things as the various battles and campaigns unfold. That doesn’t mean we won’t see the alien enemy, but when we do, he wants to make sure it’s memorable, and promises that they won’t look at all human. In a nod to some of TV science fiction’s best-known shows, DeKnight says, “This is no offense to anyone that does this — I know exactly why you do — but [our aliens] are not a human with a prosthetic on their head. No bumpy foreheads.”
DeKnight’s Spartacus, in addition to being a brilliantly written, gorgeously violent epic, has never shied away from portraying the hedonistic side of ancient Rome. Which is a nice way of saying, “It’s full of naked people doing naked-people things.” DeKnight says viewers shouldn’t expect Incursion to be nearly as racy as Spartacus. He will be continuing his tradition of portraying diverse sexuality in a frank, straightforward way. “I’m taking the same approach to what I did with Spartacus, in that same-sex relationships are completely accepted. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight or bi or anything — in the future, that makes no difference whatsoever.”
The only downside to all of this is that Incursion hasn’t yet received the green light from Starz. Given the success the network has had with Spartacus, however, I’d be very surprised if this one doesn’t make it to air. Assuming it does, Incursion has the potential to combine elements of shows such as Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and Space: Above and Beyond. Having loved DeKnight’s work for a while now, my brain is practically oozing glee at the thought of seeing what he can do with this story.
And hey, if it becomes a huge success maybe Syfy can take some notes about how to do televised science fiction right.