Alien Covenant

Alien TV series – writer Noah Hawley talks about AI themes

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The show will pose the classic sci-fi question: does humanity deserve to survive?

Triggering much excitement among the fanbase, we’ve known for a while that an Alien TV series, based on the enduring film franchise is in the works.

Commissioned by FX, we still know relatively little about the show – although its writer Noah Hawley (Legion, Fargo) has revealed he plans to finally bring the Xenomorphs to Earth.

In a recent interview with Esquire however, while promoting his new novel Anthem, journalist Adrienne Westfield discovers a little more. At the end of her piece, she gets an update of sorts on the project by quoting FX President John Landgraf to Hawley. Landgraf calls the Alien TV series “a beast… a really big world-building exercise”. Hawley’s response is fascinating, telling us more about the human world it takes place in:

“It’s going great. It’s going slowly, unfortunately, given the scale of it. I’ve made a certain business out of reinvention. Alien is a fascinating story because it’s not just a monster movie; it’s about how we’re trapped between the primordial past and the artificial intelligence of our future, where both trying to kill us.

It’s set on Earth of the future. At this moment, I describe that as Edison versus Westinghouse versus Tesla. Someone’s going to monopolize electricity. We just don’t know which one it is.”

A race for immortality

The writer goes on to discuss the corporate situation on Earth at this critical juncture:

“In the movies, we have this Weyland-Yutani Corporation, which is clearly also developing artificial intelligence—but what if there are other companies trying to look at immortality in a different way, with cyborg enhancements or transhuman downloads? Which of those technologies is going to win? It’s ultimately a classic science fiction question: does humanity deserve to survive?

As Sigourney Weaver said in that second movie, “I don’t know which species is worse. At least they don’t fuck each other over for a percentage.” Even if the show was 60% of the best horror action on the planet, there’s still 40% where we have to ask, “What are we talking about it, beneath it all?” Thematically, it has to be interesting. It’s humbling to get to play with the iconography of this world.”

There’s no timescale yet for the Alien television show as yet. In July, Hawley commented: “I’ve written a couple of scripts, the first two scripts, and we’re looking to make them next spring.” Whether the ongoing pandemic still makes this a feasible timescale is open to question. Regardless, whenever it does arrive, we’ll certainly be watching!

CultBox will keep you posted… and in the meantime, there’s a great piece over at Film Stories which tells of one fan’s mission to find the best cut of Aliens.