Sci-fi fans will know the names Dean Devlin and Jonathan Glassner. I spoke to them exclusively about their new series The Ark, coming to SYFY this week.
Dean Devlin has brought plenty of science fiction worlds to life. He’s worked on Independence Day, Stargate, The Librarians, and much more. Then you have Jonathan Glassner who has worked on SG-1, The Outer Limits, The Outpost, and much more. How can sci-fi fans not know who they are?
It’s their names that immediately drew me into The Ark. This is a show that stands by itself, though. Set 100 years into the future, it tells us a story of a group of people on Ark One, a mission to colonize planets. When the ship is involved in an accident, the entire leadership is killed and the people need to figure out how to survive.
I spoke with Devlin and Glassner about the series, looking at where the inspiration came from and the types of stories the two wanted to tell.
Creating The Ark
Where did the inspiration for this come from? That question was immediately passed to Dean, and it came from a conversation about TV shows that weren’t on right now. Devlin was talking to Michael Wright, who does now run MGM+, and it was Wright who missed the spaceship shows with a diverse group of people in a contained spot.
Well, it turns out Dean wanted to see that, too. He needed to come up with the angle.
"“What if you were to do that show but all the people who were supposed to be in charge died in an accident? What if it were people like me who suddenly had to rise to the occasion, and any mistake I made had life and death stakes?”"
Devlin wrote the first draft of the script and immediately sent it to Glassner for notes. From there, it’s all history. SYFY understood what everyone wanted to do. Now Glassner is working with Devlin again.
"“I read the script and said, I’m there.”"
Keeping things different to other shows
There are vibes of The Expanse and Dark Matter in terms of while it is a space show, it just happens to be set in space. It’s all about character-driven storylines. Arguably, that is what made The Expanse such a success.
The problem is trying to keep things different. How is that possible?
"“I don’t think you can keep it separate from what came before. I think the mistake people make is when they try to pretend like they’re the first person to ever do the show.”"
This is a great admission, but it also allowed for more storytelling. There is less exposition in explaining things as that’s all been done before. This is a series that can jump straight into the storytelling and the drama.
That story? Well, it’s a chance to show who people really are when it comes to a crisis. We’ve seen how humanity can work together when needed. People have different ideologies, though, and that can cause tension between the ranks.
It’s worth noting that the actors would only get two scripts at a time. What was the reasoning behind that? Glassner jumped in on this one.
"“Well, it’s a curse and a blessing to do that…The curse is they don’t know some of their own backstories and we had to tell them that, but we didn’t want them to know who the killer was until the day before they started shooting that episode because we didn’t want them to tip it off.”"
Take a look at the full interview below and get ready for The Ark:
The Ark premieres on Wednesday, Feb. 1 on SYFY. Catch up the following day on Peacock.