It seems all those Star Wars marathons have paid off, seeing as Spike TV is looking to get into the sci-fi TV game in a big way - with an adaptation of Red Mars, a television series based on author Kim Stanely Robinson's sci-fi book trilogy about the colonization and terraforming of the Red Planet.
Spike TV is looking at Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski to handle the job of adapting Red Mars for the small screen. According to the latest reports. Straczynski has been tapped by the network to at least write the pilot script for this new program.
Should the series move forward, the hope is the show would ultimately draw from every Red Mars book, including "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars". At the moment, it’s unknown if Spike executives would also have Straczynski showrun the series. However, given the man already has a Netflix show in production (more on that in a moment) that he hopes to have on the service for the next five years at the minimum, the odds of him also taking on the Spike TV project full time are 50/50 at best for now.
That Netflix series, titled Sense8, has a pilot directed by The Wachowsks and is a high profile project for the SVOD service - meaning, Straczynski will be expected to devote as much time as possible to making the series the greatest thing it can be. This puts Spike in a tough spot, as it could use Straczynski's full commitment in order to help re-brand their network as a home of quality, scripted, dramatic programming (rather than the former home of MANswers).
The Red Mars project may seem a strange buy for Spike, but following the almost cult like fandom surrounding the network’s surprisingly well put together reality series Bar Rescue, it seems higher ups at the network are starting to realize there’s a value in going for quality over quantity when it comes to its programming slate.
In addition, all signs point to Spike owning the series full stop, which means if it’s a hit the network will get 100% of the profits from its foreign market and streaming deals. That is to say, Red Mars could be the thing that gives Spike a massive leg up in the ever expanding cable slate of programming.
Stay tuned for more news on Red Mars as it develops.