Over the last month or so there’s been news for those of us interested in how the television takes on “Snowpiercer.” The show, based on the all-star English language Bong Joon Ho South Korean-hit Netflix standby and the French graphic novel it’s drawn from, will be airing on TNT instead of TBS we’re now told. (Considering that almost every cable/satellite package on the planet offers both channels, I’m not sure what the significance is.)
It was also teased with some new details at New York Comicon a few weeks back, following up on earlier promotion I took in at the San Diego geekfest a few months back. Ultimately we’ll just have to see…but it’s tempting to hope for something a little bit extra interesting. If nothing else, “Snowpiercer” is the first TV series to promote itself by getting people to eat bugs. (I passed on the opportunity at SDCC. I’m a big weeny.)
Coincidentally, writer-director Bong is currently promoting his genre-blending, Palm D’Or winning worldwide art-house sensation, “Parasite.” He’s had some amusing stories to tell about his battles on “Snowpiercer” with the world’s second-most despised human, Harvey Weinstein. More interesting than all of that, however, was the active promotion of the TV “Snowpiercer” in terms of the science of its premise.
As I write this a chunk of LA is burning as all of California has seemingly turned into a tinderbox and homeless people – a feature of daily life here, though far from the plague described by hateful right-wing media – are being shunted about the area as they are evacuated from fire-threatened areas. When that’s all done, we can await the mudslides to come with the next rains or, if the rain doesn’t come, another eventual super drought ready to turn my lifelong home into a Mad Maxian outback of show business wannabes. Even if we end up dealing with sand instead of snow, TBS might have a pretty good metaphor for modern life on its hands.
If you haven’t seen the movie, the setup of “Snowpiercer” is that an insanely ambitious technological hail Mary play to defeat global warming boomerangs into global deep-freezing ,with the only habitable spot being a very, very large train that is somehow continually moving around the earth. Inhabited largely by human sharks that feed upon each other in various ways, if the train stops moving it dies and takes all of humanity with it. As for what’s going on inside the train, the film version gave us unashamed sledgehammer satire and crypto-pinko propaganda as the story gives us rebels from the impoverished back of the train attempting to fight their way towards the front in an attempt at some sort of social change, with every train car going up a step on the social ladder.
The TV version looks to be intriguingly different. Rather than focusing on Chris Evans’ determined rebel leader, Daveed Diggs – best known as Aaron Burr in the original cast of “Hamilton” – as a back-car ex-detective investigating a murder that will, no doubt, have ramifications far beyond anything you’d see on the Orient Express. The powerful voice of the train – think a combination of Radar O’Reilly on “MASH” and Joan Collins on anything – who makes the daily announcements and presumably lots and lots of power plays will be played by Oscar-winner Jennifer Connolly. She and Diggs will be supported by an intriguing cast without too many names.
The creators also note that their train will have over a thousand cars and be several miles long, so there will be plenty of society to explore if the show lasts long enough and the budget stays bigs enough. Reports of creative acrimony amid staff turnover last summer might seem like a bad sign, but chaotic productions have produced their share of winners over the decades. The trailer (check it out below) teases some stylish and thoughtful entertainment, so I’m feeling mildly bullish.
In the meantime, if the show has even a touch of the lunatic agitprop energy of the Bong film, we’re in for something pretty interesting. Lord knows, we’ve seen plenty of dystopias in pop culture, but it’s hard to think of one more relevant to our times than the never-ending train ride to nowhere that will, in fact, end very badly if the inhabitants can’t find a way to stop feeding off each other and to start working together.