Dune: The TV series

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Joe Washington, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    not sure if you are being funy or what considering Dune wasn't published until the mid 60's (1966 iirc)
     
  2. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's a reference, no doubt tongue in cheek, to Dune being in part a sci-fi version of Lawrence of Arabia.
     
  3. Spider

    Spider Dirty Old Man Premium Member

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    The Dune series of books have enough ideas and subplots to carry a TV series for a number of seasons. If done right, I'd love to see it happen.
     
  4. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I loved the mini-series CHILDREN of DUNE. I thought it was absolutely wonderful! DUNE: 2000 has its issues, however, as does the David Lynch version of DUNE. I think I prefer the 80's version, because it's so surreal and very imaginative, overall. Otherwise, I hope DUNE does get more exposure through it's own television series. That would be outstanding!
     
  5. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the first novel is a little too dense to be done justice in a single 10-15 episode season of television (which appears to be standard, these days.) Possibly the thing to do would be to split it up into it's three constituent "books"; 'Dune', 'Muad'Dib', and 'The Prophet'. That give you three seasons, each with an established beginning and end point, with plenty of material in the glossaries to elaborate where needed. More than anything it'd mean Fenring could at last get a significant role as for such an interesting character, he was sadly neglected in both the mini-series and movie.

    If the show is still going by the time Paul takes the throne then you can probably squeeze 'Messiah' into a fourth season and 'Children' into a fifth and sixth. I doubt they'd go further than that, but I as I said before, *if* they were to attempt it, the smart move would be to mostly skip over 'God Emperor' and get right into the Honored Matres for two more seasons. No clue how to end that though. Honestly I'd rather they leave it with the same ambiguity with which 'Chapterhouse' concluded.
     
  6. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

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    I never read the books but I watched the movie & both miniseries. I generally preferred the movie. The miniseries was able to give more nuance to the political maneuverings. But the movie just kinda gave a scale to the story and the importances of the things happening in it. The miniseries just kinda felt like it meandered around a lot before it ended. And William Hurt was totally phoning it in.

    From what I know of the series, I kinda have a hard time seeing how a lot of audiences would follow a TV version given the massive time jumps between books.

    IMO, a better candidate for TV series adaptation would be Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. The whole series takes place over the course of about 7 years or so and carries over a lot more characters over the 6 book series. In some ways, it's basically a PG-13 version of Game of Thrones but with more Roman trappings than medieval trappings.
     
  7. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There are strong similarities between Dune and Game of Thrones, to the point that I would think George R.R. Martin drew heavily from it, along with the historical influences he's mentioned. I wonder if those similarities would hurt or help if HBO considered an adaptation.
     
  8. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^I doubt 'Fire and Ice' drew much, if anything directly from 'Dune'. Any similarities are more likely the result of both authors drawing from a common historical source. The politics of Dune makes no bones about taking it's inspiration from Medieval European court intrigues and the Senate plots of Ancient Rome.

    The only other similarity I can see is the archetypal hero's journey, which is of course not something Martin would have needed to borrow from Herbert.

    Indeed, exactly who the "hero" on their journey is in 'Fire and Ice' is a bit hard to figure out since all the one's you'd expect have mostly been killed off. Personally my money is on Aria, Tyrion *and* Daenerys. I mean who says there can only be one "hero's journey" per story? ;)
     
  9. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^
    I disagree. There are enough similarities beyond historical sources and the Hero's Journey that I think Martin took quite a few elements from Dune and reworked them into epic fantasy.
     
  10. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Part of why Game of Thrones is so popular is the really good writing of Martin so with Herbert we got that covered too.

    The other part is the pitch perfect casting.. people like Dinklage playing Tyrion, Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister or Lena Headey as Cersei. If they could find actors with the same skill and presence then i believe Dune could also be a hit.

    However Dune is an older story that isn't well known outside of SF fandom as opposed to Game of Thrones which i have seen being read by many non-Fantasy or genre fans so i don't believe there is a lobby out there that could push HBO to invest the same kind of money into an old story.

    And mind you.. the first season of GoT also was not that heavily financed. Only after the show took off like a rocket did it get more money.

    But i'd love to get a comparable Dune series, at best with the visuals of the movie (love the style and totally fit the universe) with some A list TV/Movie talent to play the characters.

    Who would be your choice to play the various key characters such as Paul, Jessica, Baron Harkonnen, Gurney or Stilgar?
     
  11. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The first season had a very big budget by television standards. The success of the show led to subsequent seasons getting even more lavish budgets.
     
  12. Joe Washington

    Joe Washington Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I like the idea of dividing the novel Dune into three seasons. I think that could work.
     
  13. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You'd have to massively expand on the first novel with supplementary material to fill three seasons. A straight adaptation would fit comfortably into a single 10-episode season. 10 HBO-length episodes would yield about four hours more screen time than the Director's Cut of the Sci-Fi miniseries.
     
  14. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Care to elaborate? I genuinely just don't see it.

    Calling it right now: Sean Bean as Duke Leto Atredies. :p

    As for the others...well it's usually best for the younger leads (in this case, Paul, Chani, Irulan & Feyd) to be unknowns.

    In all seriousness, Leto really needs an established actor with some serious presence in order for his death to have resonance. Plus it's an easy character to get wrong (see: William Hurt) so you need someone with good instincts and a grasp of subtle characterization...actually Sean Bean may not be such a bad idea.

    Same goes for whomever plays the Baron as neither Kenneth McMillan nor Ian McNeice's performances--though both worthy in their own right--quite portrayed the cunning intellect and penetrating insight hiding behind the outward appearances of a perverse, psychotic hedonist. Off the top of my head I can't think of anyone with those traits *and* the right physicality for the role.

    Bit of a long-shot given her pay grade, but does anyone else think Angelina Jolie would make a *fantastic* Jessica? She has very much the right look, but she's also very physically adept, has a very real maternal nature and has a sharp intellect.

    You'd need a veteran actress to play Gaius Helen Mohiam. Sigourney Weaver leaps to mind for a number of reasons. She's about the right age, is tall and imposing and still has her looks and has a good track record of balancing femininity with a hard edge.

    For Duncan, the first name that popped in my head was Karl Urban...and now I can't even see anyone else in the role. He may be a touch too old though.

    Gurney...another tricky one. You'd need someone old enough to be an old war horse, but still in good enough condition to look like they can hold their own in a fight. None of that noble warrior/honourable combat nonsense. Gurney is a dirty fighter and as common as they come. As a benchmark, Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth is a pretty close match on several levels. Christopher Eccleston might be a good choice.

    Stilgar is similar in many respects, but he'd need a more reserved, thoughtful edge. Alexander Siddig perhaps?

    The material is there if you know how to utilise it. 'The Walking Dead' managed to extrapolate a whole season out of what was just a handful of issues in the comic.

    For example, you could spend almost a whole episode just on that dinner scene in Arrakeen with all the local power players. Make it a character piece about how Paul is learning statecraft, all the while laying some of the groundwork for the ongoing plots.

    The entire first episode of season 2 could just be Paul and Jessica trying to survive in the desert and nothing else. There could be stretches in season 2 & 3 where you hardly see Paul at all with the focus shifting to other character threads like Feyd's collusion with Thuffir to assassinate the Baron, all the while Fenring poking around trying to see what long game the Baron is playing and Gurney's work with the smugglers. Wheels within wheels and all that.

    You'd need good writers and directors of course to make it work, but to my mind an adaptation that does nothing new with the material is a waste of effort, to say nothing of redundant.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  15. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, this isn't a spoiler thread for either series, so it gets a little tricky in going into detail. I'll keep it relatively vague, but if anyone is avoiding spoilers for either series they shouldn't read this post.

    In both stories you have two royal houses go to war, both authors drawing on similar historical sources no doubt, but you also have the details of a noble lord who is drawn from his safehold when he accepts a new position and an inciting incident that kicks things off. The noble lord's wife initially married him out of duty, but came to love him deeply. The royal houses have advisers trained in arcane knowledge - mentats and maesters respectively.

    You have characters on a Hero's Journey who go into a wasteland, bring together disparate tribes, while mastering their own mystical abilities, aiming to use those abilities and the forces they've marshalled to get revenge for what was done to their families. There is a prophecy of a messianic chosen one.

    You have assassins who can change their appearance and a young female character of the noble house (or at least comparatively noble) on a dark path that involves the assassins.

    There are some additional elements, too, but those are the main ones I can think of for now.

    A lot of these are common tropes on their own, particularly the Hero's Journey and chosen one points, and there are other influences at work, too, and points of divergence, but there are enough structural similarities in the combination of some of these elements, particularly early on, that I think Dune was a key influence on Martin.

    As I said, you'd have to massively expand on the first book to fill it out to three seasons, so, yes, it could be done. I'm not saying it couldn't. But it would be very tricky to get it right and I don't think it would be the best approach.

    And I don't think straight adaptations are redundant, any more than rereading a book is redudant. They're a means of enjoying the same story over again in a different medium utilizing that medium's particular strengths (which often calls for at least some adjustments to the source material).
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  16. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^The key is having strongly written characters and a good cast to carry the episodes. Also keep in mind that a lot of the substance of the book was expressed via internal monologue. It's one of the things the movie struggled with and any competent attempt to faithfully adapt the book would need to find a way to translate those inner thoughts and motivations into actions and words. And I do mean *translate*. Having characters simply spouting off what's on their mind or making massive exposition dumps would be a very bad idea.

    That plus the need to gradually explain the setting to an audience mostly unfamiliar witht he books should make for plenty of opportunity for expansion.

    As for it being the best approach: well, when you're talking about a TV show rather than a movie, or a mini-series it really needs to be viable for as long as possible. Straight up adapting one book per season just won't work for Dune because the second and third books are significantly shorter, so you'd have to do what the mini-series did and shove them together.

    That give you two 10-15 episode seasons of television and you're already into giant worm man territory and 95% of you cast has been killed off. Any attempt at tackling GEoD and the later novels is going to feel like a soft-reboot with an all-new cast save Duncan, which is going to be a hard sell under the best of conditions. After only two seasons, it's pretty much ratings suicide.

    P.S. I'm sorry, I still don't see any major "borrowing" going on. Everything you cited seems pretty superficial, most of which are as you said, fairly common tropes and the story structure is right out of 'Hero with a Thousand Faces'. Hell, that's kind of the point in Dune with the missionaria protectiva implanting the panoplia propheticus outsider/messiah myth as a safety net and psychological lever to move the masses.
    Thrones on the other hand is using the trope totally without irony.
     
  17. Out Of My Vulcan Mind

    Out Of My Vulcan Mind Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The exposition would be the trickiest thing for any adaptation to handle. I agree that one season-per-book isn't the way to go throughout the series, but the first book is well-suited to a single-season adaptation. After that you could do some combining and reworking. For example, you could have a 10-episode first season adapting the first book and then combine the second and third books into an expanded and reworked 16-episode chunk, divided into two 8-episode seasons. That could either track as basically a season per book, with a lot of expanded material, or you could rework it in more dramatic fashion. You could either then stop at three seasons or go on.

    That's fine. Mileage will vary on these things.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  18. Joe Washington

    Joe Washington Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Those are fantastic ideas.
     
  19. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Paul Giamatti.
     
  20. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    The Reverend and lurok are my new casting directors.!!!!

    Sean Bean as Duke Leto....???....oh, HELL yeah!
    Paul Giamatti as the Baron???...deeeelicious!!!

    Monica Bellucci as Jessica?