HBO is pulling out all the stops to ensure a solid audience for its newest series, Westworld, when it premiers early this October. A recently-unveiled promo illustrates how the genre-bending TV show incorporates both Western and sci-fi themes. Westworld, based on a Michael Crichton film of the same name, centers on a futuristic theme park (situated in the Old West) into which humans can enter. The series examines questions of ethics and technology, as humans explore an android-inhabited world without moral boundaries.
Despite a number of production delays, sci-fi fans are ecstatic that the series is finally about to hit small screens, and HBO has been capitalizing on that excitement with marketing materials that feature content from the show's first few episodes, as well as some peeks behind the scenes. They even designed an entire website that makes the visitor feel like a prospective Westworld guest. The latest addition to this campaign is a promo called "Chaos," which highlights the show's ethical complications. Check it out, above.
The venerable Anthony Hopkins narrates the promo in a monologue delivered by his character, Dr. Robert Ford. As Westworld's creative director, Ford appears to be the show's complicated and (in a manner) "evil" overlord character, à la the Gamemakers of The Hunger Games. As flashes of the show's characters, both human and AI, fly by the screen, Ford speaks:
"In the beginning, this place was pure creation. I have designed every inch of it. Every blade of grass. It's not a theme park, but an entire world. In here, we create life itself...out of chaos."
As he speaks, the images from the show fly by more rapidly and the content itself becomes more intense -- placid images of rolling fields and petticoat-laden mothers transform into unsettling shots of naked, almost-lifeless AIs, which then give way to adrenaline-pumping fight scenes and shootouts. In a clever editing move, the promo itself dissolves into chaos.
Though this promo delivers little content yet unseen in the show's other marketing materials, it gives us a straightforward sense of the show's thematic interests. Plus, it's always awesome to see Anthony Hopkins in a role that will almost certainly allow the actor to shine. The Silence of the Lambs actor is clearly unafraid to explore darkness and moral complexity in his characters, and it looks like Dr. Ford will allow him to do just that.
At the same time, some critics are concerned that Westworld will exploit some of the more vulnerable members of our society, particularly women. Though HBO regularly fends off similar flak in response to Game of Thrones, the network has yet to make any real changes to their explicit programming, so it's likely Westworld will carry on in the same vein. Though Westworld's creators have acknowledged this issue and said that they will attempt to respectfully depict violence and sexual violence, critics argue that perhaps the best recourse would be to simply not depict such violence whatsoever, given society's current deluge of on-screen exploitative images.
Either way, with such an outstanding ensemble cast and breathtaking production, Westworld is sure to draw an audience - one that can then be the true judges of its merits.
Westworld debuts Sunday, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.