Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski has been interacting with his audience online since 1991. I remember exciting those early days were, how novel it seemed to be able to actually write a post to the man behind one of my favorite shows and know that there was a chance he might actually respond. It was a sneak preview of a dynamic that’s become so common that we take it for granted in this Twitter-fied age, but back then it was largely unprecedented. Now, some 23 years later, JMS is still engaging in that online back-and-forth with his fans, and yesterday he laid out some bold statements about just what we should expect from his upcoming Netflix science fiction series Sense8.
If you’ve been following our coverage, you’ll know that Sense8 is a collaboration between Straczynski and a pair of legendary, oft-controversial science fiction icons: the Wachowskis, creators of the Matrix trilogy, Cloud Atlas, and the upcoming Jupiter Ascending. We still don’t know much about the secretive Sense8, but it’s said to involve a group of characters scattered across the globe, all connected by a “collective vision of violence” and that there will be some mysterious “entity” trying to kill all of them. JMS’ latest Facebook post doesn’t reveal any further specifics, but he’s most definitely talking a big game. Here’s Straczynski:
Sense8 is going to debut on Netflix in 2015. And it is going to change the way you see television, in terms of production values, storytelling, scope, scale, and action. All of it.
We are going to tell a story on a planetary scale. No cheats. In ways no one else has ever done before.
We are going to treat subjects that most TV series, and pretty much all SF series have avoided.
We are going to present visuals and action in ways that you have simply never, ever seen before. Anywhere.
In 2015 we are going to blow the doors off the television business.
Count on it.
To quote Vincent from Pulp Fiction, that’s a bold statement. And one that may come back to bite JMS in the ass if Sense8 doesn’t deliver. B5 itself was, as a whole, a remarkable achievement, but it also had some major rough patches. I’m a huge fan of his original comics series such as Rising Stars and Midnight Nation, but his work on mainstream characters such as Superman and Spider-Man has pissed off as many fans as it’s entertained, if not more. And Sense8 will be JMS’ first return to series television since Showtime’s uneven Jeremiah, and the first such project for the Wachowskis. We’re holding out hope that Sense8 will be just as amazing as Straczynski is boasting, but that remains to be seen.
That being said, JMS does have a track record of foreshadowing where the industry is heading. As he points out in his post, Babylon 5 was doing things in the mid ’90s that have since become SOP: shooting in widescreen and 5.1 audio, the extensive use of CGI effects, and multi-year serialized storylines that paved the way for the likes of Lost and the Battlestar Galactica reboot. We’ll have to wait and see if Sense8 lives up to Straczynski’s hype, but all I know is that the show can’t get here soon enough.