FOX is taking a page out of the BBC’s playbook with their growing affinity for limited or “event” series.’ First came the news that the network had an interest in bringing Jack Bauer back with a limited 24 redux, and now comes news that next season, the network will also air Wayward Pines, a new event series from M. Night Shyamalan with Matt Dillon in the lead.
Based on Blake Crouch’s novel Pines, the show was put into development at the beginning of this year and is being produced by Shyamalan, Donald De Line (Pain and Gain), Ashwin Rajan and Chad Hodge, who will also serve as a writer.
According to Deadline, the show is described as:
A mind-bending thriller in which nothing is what it seems, it centers on Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Dillon) who arrives in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, on a mission to find two missing federal agents. But instead of answers, Ethan’s investigation only turns up more questions.
Though Shyamalan and De Line bring name recognition and experience to the project, this actually marks their first foray into television (though Shyamalan was involved in developing an as-yet-unaired concept with Syfy last year and the Lost Horizons pilot over at NBC). Only Hodge – who has written for and created several series, including The Playboy Club - has experience in television among the announced creative team.
As for Dillon, the Wild Things and Crash star has made the rounds and done the mandatory Simpsons and Modern Family guest spots over the last few years, but he has never had a sustained presence on TV. There could be any number of reasons for that, but the commitment that comes with top-lining a television series could be a part of it. Luckily that isn’t a concern here, thanks to the brevity of these series – plus, Dillon gets the added benefit of adding a high-profile leading role to an IMDB page that has arguably been a little underwhelming lately.
Really, this mirrors the benefits seen by FX with American Horror Story. That show is heading for a third season, but its anthology nature allows it to seem more like an annual event series, thereby wooing – perhaps – a finer class of actors to the project, due to the short-term nature of the commitment.
For Shyamalan – the genius behind The Sixth Sense, but also the not-exactly-critically-adored director behind The Happening, Last Airbender and the upcoming After Earth - this might be a perfect melding of medium and style, as his penchant for twists and turns could serve him well as he attempts to nudge viewers toward the edge of their seats.
Of course, the opposite could also be true – but for now, this looks like a potential win for FOX and a slightly innovative way to reinvigorate the miniseries sub-genre and attract talent to the small screen that might not consider the jump, otherwise.
Wayward Pines is set to air on FOX in 2014.