It’s been three long years since Ronald D. Moore has had a show on the airwaves, after the cancellation of Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica, in 2010. Thankfully, he’s about to take a page from Farscape‘s Rockne O’Bannon, who this year premiered both The CW’s Cult and Syfy’s Defiance. Moore has two new TV series set to hit in coming months: Helix, which looks to be channeling John Carpenter’s The Thing, will premiere on Syfy, while the time-traveling historical drama called Outlander, based on the novels by Diana Gabalson, is headed for the premium cable network Starz.
Moore recently talked to Blastr about both upcoming TV series. Helix follows a group of CDC scientists stationed at a secret laboratory in a remote area of the Arctic. There were sent there to investigate a possible global outbreak, but soon discover something mysterious and terrifying just beneath the icy surface. Moore revealed a bit more about the show:
[The laboratory isn’t] owned or controlled by any one particular nation. It’s sort of a group of people who cobbled money together through mysterious sources and have been up there for quite some time doing medical research. Something happens at the base and a virus breaks out. They go under quarantine and they call the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to send a team to help them contain it. When [the team gets] there, they discover there’s a lot more going on than anticipated and they start realizing the research that has been going on has enormous potential to help humanity or to destroy humanity. Each episode is just one day at the base so the tension keeps ramping up and ramping up until we get to the end of the season.
Helix recently cast Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer, The 4400) in the lead role as Dr. Alan Farragut, “an emotionally troubled Centers for Disease Control pathologist whose marriage has recently fallen apart after his wife had an affair with his brother.” Syfy also released new brief clips from Helix featuring mysterious black ooze and a creepy decontamination chamber.
As for Starz’s Outlander, it’s a drama/romance hybrid with the science fiction element of time travel mashed up with more mainstream historical fiction. The series follows the war between two Scottish Clans and the love affair between a chivalrous Scottish warrior named Jamie Fraser and a World War II-era combat nurse named Claire Randall, who is mysteriously sent back in time to the year 1743. Moore offered his thoughts on what makes Outlander different from other TV adaptations of best-selling book series.
“We’re at pains to really follow the books,” he says to assure concerned readers. “One of the great things Starz said to us early on was, ‘We love the books, we think they are great so let’s make the [show] for the people who love the books. Let’s make it for the fans of the books first and trust that anyone who doesn’t know the material will get swept along in the story like everyone else does.’ Nobody ever says that,” Moore laughs. “Typically studios and networks just say, ‘Yeah, we don’t really care about the book. We bought it for the cover or whatever…’ and then dispense with it very early on [in the process]. This was the rare time when everybody said this is great material and we like the story and these characters so let’s try to get as close to the books as possible in the show and that’s what we are doing.”
Outlander recently cast Sam Heughan as the male lead, Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser. From the details available, Outlander sounds like Game of Thrones meets Highlander.
It’s been a while since Moore had a hit TV series on his hands, so hopefully one (or both) of these will find an audience. Ron Moore needs a hit now!