Disappointed Stargate fans have been longing for a TV resurrection of their beloved franchise ever since the demise of Stargate Universe in 2011, after only two seasons. Sadly, the most recent scuttlebutt suggests that Stargate is planning a big-screen comeback instead, with a rebooted film trilogy in the works that sounds like it’ll be tossing out all those spin-off series in favor of a fresh start. Well, consider this a consolation prize, Gaters: Ridley Scott is helping develop a potential HBO series that will repurpose Stargate’s chocolate-and-peanut-butter mixture of ancient history and meddling extraterrestrials, just without the actual stargates. Apparently somebody had already called dibs on the title Stargate-less, because they’re calling it Pharaoh instead.
So what’s Pharaoh all about? Variety doesn’t have a lot of details, but we’re looking at your basic Chariots of the Gods style scenario where ancient Egyptian culture is influenced and shaped by extraterrestrials with a love of pyramids. Somewhere Erich von Däniken is masturbating furiously, but Ridley still isn’t returning this guy’s calls.
Variety says Ridley Scott will direct and produce Pharaoh, along with the show’s creators: David Schulner, Giannina Facio, and Colet Abedi. Schulner’s Jekyll and Hyde revamp Do No Harm came and flopped and went on NBC last year, but he’s a TV vet with over a decade of experience under his belt, including work on NBC’s similarly short-lived non-event event series The Event. I actually liked The Event, or at least its setup, and you have to admire them going big with that season-ending cliffhanger, even if it was really kind of dumb.
Giannina Facio’s credits are mostly as an actress; over the years she’s brought to life such memorable roles as Shaw’s mother in Prometheus (who I sort of remember, sort of), Saladin’s sister in Kingdom of Heaven, and “Verger’s fingerprint technician” in Hannibal — movie, not TV series. These days she looks to have shifted her focus to producing, with several projects listed on her IMDb Pro page.
Colet Abedi certainly comes by the Pharaoh material naturally, having worked as executive producer on a pair of shows called Unsealed: Alien Files and Unsealed: Conspiracy Files. He also wrote the script for a 2013 horror flick called Five Souls.
HBO seems like a good home for Pharaoh since the cable network has plenty of experience mounting lavish period productions such as Rome, Carnivale, and Deadwood. Unfortunately, those shows also tend to be damned expensive to make, so hopefully Pharaoh will attract enough eyeballs to give it a chance. It’ll also be interesting to see HBO delving into science fiction; they’ve certainly had good luck with fantasy in the form of Game of Thrones.
In typical Hollywood monkey-see, monkey-do fashion, Pharaoh isn’t the only ancient Egypt series currently in the works. Pacific Rim screenwriter Travis Beacham has a drama called Hieroglyph ordered to series at Fox. Maybe that one has some stargates in it.