Showtime Has Canceled One Of The Best Sci-Fi Shows
The Man Who Fell to Earth has not been renewed by Showtime.
The Man Who Fell to Earth, the acclaimed science fiction series starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), has officially been canceled by the Showtime network. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the series was not renewed for a second season, in large part because it was felt that the show had told a self-contained story that did not require further installments. Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet (who created and co-showran) apparently originally developed The Man Who Fell to Earth as a one-season limited series but had begun to pivot the storyline to a possible second season which will now never come.
The Man Who Fell to Earth is the latest in a long list of prestige, well-regarded science fiction series to be canceled in the last several years. The list also includes shows like HBO’s Raised by Wolves (despite the involvement of legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott), TNT’s Snowpiercer adaptation, and Netflix’s comedic Space Force. While it seems that The Man Who Fell to Earth is meeting a largely agreed-upon end, it does seem notable that major networks do not have much patience for a science fiction show that does not break out immediately, like Stranger Things.
While The Man Who Fell to Earth was well regarded by critics (currently holding a solid 86% on Rotten Tomatoes), it did not break through to mainstream audiences in the way that the horror survival series Yellowjackets did. Thankfully, it did not have the kind of well-publicized collapse that a more promoted series like Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop did, which very well might make major platforms and studios wary of high-concept science fiction series in the future. However, The Man Who Fell to Earth was also adapted from a beloved science fiction property and ran the risk of mass fan rejection.
The Man Who Fell to Earth was based on a 1963 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, but more specifically, functioned as a sequel to the cult 1976 film by Nicolas Roeg starring rock star David Bowie in his first leading role. While the original film was barely released in theaters (allegedly due to Paramount feeling it did not meet expectations of what a science fiction film should be), it has come to be regarded as a masterwork of surreal science fiction and a launching pad for David Bowie as an actor.
Both the film and Showtime series adaptations of The Man Who Fell to Earth involve extraterrestrials who come to Earth in search of water for their own drought-ridden planet. In the David Bowie film, the alien was known as Thomas Jerome Newton and eventually succumbs to alcoholism and governmental experimentation, while the series stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as a new visitor eventually called Faraday. Bowie passed away in 2016, but the role of Thomas Jerome Newton was carried on in the Showtime series by actor Bill Nighy.
The Man Who Fell to Earth may have satisfied its creators and Showtime executives, but hopefully, it does not foretell the cancelation of yet more prestige science fiction series.