sf/f TV development news - 2013

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Temis the Vorta, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    I don't think there's any way to make Kevin Sorbo palatable. :rommie: Fortunately, there are tons of great genre actors out there, that are currently "between gigs" as they say.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    It was certainly after, since it wasn't even decided that it would be a space show until Sorbo was already onboard. The concept was developed along with the Tribune executives, and it took a while to become Andromeda. But it's unfair to question their judgment on those grounds. Sometimes you can't know in advance how something will turn out until you see the results. Like I said, it was as much about experience as budget; the makeup artists hired for the show turned out not to have the right training for the kind of prosthetics work they were doing. Sometimes you enter into something in good faith with the best information you have available to you, and then it just turns out wrong for one reason or another. Even with the best judgment, you can't always guarantee in advance that something will work.

    I do think they let their imagination get the better of them to an extent, coming up with ideas too big to fit on a syndicated TV show; but I can't really fault anyone for dreaming big. They might never have been able to get all of the AllSystems stuff on the screen, but with better execution and more time on the show, they could've done a lot more of it than they did.


    I always thought it would've worked better as a book series.


    That I agree with. It seemed to me they were relying too much on the implication that the Commonwealth was basically the Federation, so all of us Trek/Roddenberry fans would understand going in what had been lost. And I don't think that really worked. I think they should've done a 2-hour pilot instead of 2 separate parts, and devoted most of the first half to establishing the Commonwealth before ripping it away. But they just didn't have the budget to show the Commonwealth and Tarn-Vedra at their height.
     
  3. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    In retrospect yes, would have worked as a book series. It'd be easy to say it'd make a good video game now, some kind of Mass Effect-style RPG series, but as fun as space games were ten years ago they were rarely as story-intensive as that and so the details would be somewhat wasted.

    Still, there was another novelistic low-budget space opera series that managed to do alright. I still think if just a few more things had gone right for Andromeda, it stood a good chance to be the next Babylon 5 - in the best and worst senses of that phrase. The story arc that RHW spelled out in his post-series coda makes me think that particularly, its the bare bones of what could have been anothter three and a half solid years of TV.

    Well, the lathering of exposition was also a problem. I still remember that scene with Hunt and Rhade giving exposition over lance fire. There's just a lot of backstory to the show's premise and that was one of the clunkier efforts to get that across.
     
  4. TheNatureRoy

    TheNatureRoy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Do you remember the Cinemax sci-fi television project 'The Sector' announced in April?

    "...director siblings Ridley and Tony Scott, through their Scott Free Productions, are working to bring the new television series The Sector to Cinemax.

    Envisioned as Blade Runner meets District 9, The Sector is intended to be an action oriented sci-fi program following “the commander of a paramilitary unit who pursues a dangerous new race of genetically enhanced humans."

    "Coincidentally enough, the Scott boys aren’t the only ones sharing DNA involved in the show. Sibling writers, Matthew and Aaron Benay, created The Sector and wrote the script to the pilot episode."

    I thought the idea sounded as if it had promise but Cinemax ultimately passed. There was word in late August, however, that Discovery's Science Channel was considering picking it up, which could be interesting if they saw it as the program to back as their first original sci-fi drama.

    I have no idea what sort of shot this has to make it to air, but it's another one to keep an eye on.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  5. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Thanks, I've added it to the list. The total count is now 59, which breaks down this way:

    ABC - 16
    SyFy - 7
    CW - 6
    FOX - 6
    CBS - 6
    NBC - 5
    Showtime - 3
    HBO - 3
    TNT - 3
    ABC Family - 2
    FX - 1
    Cinemax - 1

    AMC is conspicuously missing so far, but I have heard about a series under consideration about humanity's first contact with aliens. Not definite enough yet to add to the list.

    The updated monster list follows. :D

    2012-2013 Development

    Sci Fi - 29

    The Adjustment Bureau (SyFy) – based on the Matt Damon movie of Philip K. Dick’s short story about a secret organization with special powers, which uses them to ensure that people’s lives follow the chairman of the Bureau’s plan for them.

    AKA Jessica Jones (ABC) – based on the Marvel comics character, a superhero ("Jewel") who winds up with post-traumatic stress disorder and decides to keep far away from others gifted with superpowers and to open her own detective agency. But once she settles down, she realizes she still has a drive to help people -- and finds herself assisting other superheroes.

    Alien Nation reboot (SyFy) – helmed by Tim Minear, the drama centers on the partnership between a veteran cop and his alien detective partner, set against the larger tale of alien "newcomers" who move to Earth and attempt to assimilate into society.

    Cloak & Dagger (ABC Family) - drama based on the Marvel comic of the same name about teen runaways in New York City who develop superpowers - he can engulf enemies in darkness, she can emit daggers of light - after being forced to take experimental drugs.

    Danny Hollywood (CW) - a time travel fantasy-musical in which a young documentary filmmaker travels back in time in order to prevent the death of her ’90s musical idol Danny Hollywood, and finds that the story is even more complicated than she thought.

    Deadman (CW) - small screen take on the DC Comics hero, the spirit of a murdered man who lives on as he inhabits other people's bodies and helps them solve crises in their own lives.

    Defiance (SyFy) – Rockne O’Bannon is behind this experiment in the “first multi-platform shooter MMO which interconnects with a global television program.” The plotline appears to be pretty much a first-person shooter game, ported to TV.

    Ex-Comm (ABC) - Follows a newly-elected President and his top secret “Executive Committee” (a.k.a. Ex-Comm), the government’s covert team of America’s most elite minds who investigate and protect our nation from the strangest occurrences and “conspiracy theory truths” out there.

    Hyde (ABC) - contemporary interpretation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic split-personality tale.

    Jeckyll & Hyde (also ABC, how’s that for a split personality?) - drama about a female criminal psychologist in San Francisco who is drawn into the mysterious world of a brilliant but inhibited scientist and his volatile alter ego.

    Last Hope (Showtime) - drama about the last hospital on Planet Earth.

    The Last Resort (ABC) - thriller set in the near future when the country is very fractured and revolves around the crew of a U.S. nuclear submarine who become hunted after ignoring an order to shoot nuclear missiles.

    Mockingbird (ABC Family) - drama featuring the Marvel Comics character.

    Pandemic (FOX) - drama about an epidemiologist who is facing difficult adversaries as he fights to stop a catastrophic pandemic.

    Powers (FX) - based on the graphic novel series, Powers is a high concept crime procedural where the detectives police the brutal and sensational crimes surrounding super power beings, while illuminating the weaknesses and strengths of humanity in the process. Powers follows the life of Christian Walker, a homicide detective devoted solely to cases that involve "powers" (people with superpowers). Jason Patric and Lucy Punch have been cast as the leads.

    Punisher (FOX) – based on the comic book, this series will transform the comic book antihero Frank Castle into a rising-star detective in the New York Police Department who moonlights as a vigilante, seeking justice for those the courts have failed.

    The Sector (Cinemax)- Ridley and Tony Scott series, envisioned as Blade Runner meets District 9, is an action oriented sci-fi program that follows “the commander of a paramilitary unit who pursues a dangerous new race of genetically enhanced humans.”

    Source Code (CBS) - drama based on the film about three former federal agents who are part of a top-secret program that uses technology to jump into the consciousness of people involved in tragic events.

    Stranger Planet (FOX) – drama about a hard-boiled L.A. cop who stumbles upon the existence of aliens living among us and must team up with two aliens in order to solve intergalactic mysteries on Earth.

    Untitled Alien Bounty Hunter project (CW) – drama about a young woman who, on the first day of her new job, discovers that the cosmetics company for which she is working is actually a cover business for a secret governmental project that monitors alien activity on Earth.

    Untitled Frankenstein Project (NBC) - drama billed as a modern-day Frankenstein tale.

    Untitled Fun with DNA Project (ABC) - drama about a genetic scientist who uses his newfound discovery that he has the psychopath gene to help the FBI catch killers.

    Untitled Melrose Space Comedy (ABC) - centers on a normal family who moves into a condominium complex to find out that everyone living there but them are aliens.

    Untitled Robert H. Wolfe Project (SyFy) - drama set in a postwar era in which a newly formed Unity Democracy orders a volatile mix of humans and trans-humans to lead the Starship Defender on an expedition in search of lost worlds requiring law and order.

    Untitled Warehouse 13 Spinoff Project (SyFy) - spin-off of the SyFy hit centering on the character of HG Wells and her adventures in a 1890s steampunk environment.

    Year Zero (HBO) - Trent Reznor’s pet project mini-series presenting a dystopian vision of the year 2022, based on Reznor’s concept album of the same name.

    Zero Hour (ABC) – drama about a skeptical everyman who gets swept up in one of history's greatest conspiracies: a spectacular mystery surrounding the Twelve Apostles.

    Zombieland (FOX) – comedy series based on the movie.

    Supernatural/fantasy/horror - 31

    666 Park (ABC) - Drama about an innocent couple from the Midwest that moves to New York and gets hired to be resident managers of a building on the Upper East Side where unbeknownst to the couple, the residents have all unwittingly made deals with the Devil to have their deepest needs, ambitions and desires fulfilled.

    American Gods (HBO) – Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel. (May be a miniseries.)

    Beauty and the Beast (ABC) – Based on the classic tale.

    Beauty and the Beast (CW) - Revival of the cult 1987-1990 series that aims to not only modernize and CW-up the love story but also add a procedural twist.

    Bewitched (CBS) - revival of the 1964-72 comedy about a witch who marries a mortal and tries to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife.

    DarkTower (HBO) – Based on the Stephen King novel series.

    The Damned (Showtime) - drama about a cursed man who is stuck in the middle of a turf war in modern-day Chicago where mobsters are demons.

    The Eye (ABC) - Western with a paranormal twist set in 1871 Arizona and centered on a team of Pinkerton Detectives who search for answers to unexplained phenomena.

    Ghost Projekt (SyFy)drama that revolves around a female KGB agent and a male American weapons inspector who form an unlikely partnership when a deadly force is unwittingly unleashed in Siberia.

    Haunted (ABC) - drama about a paranormal investigator who each week helps the living move on from a spirit that can't let go.

    The Hollows (CW) - based on the bestselling book series The Hollows by Kim Harrison. Set in an urban fantasy world, Rachel Morgan, a PI witch, works with local law enforcement agencies to combat threats both mundane and supernatural.

    Isabel (NBC) - centers on an otherwise normal angry middle-class family that wrestles with the challenges of everyday life while raising a daughter who has magical qualities.

    The Magicians (FOX) - An adaptation of the fantasy novel series by Lev Grossman about a group of 20-somethings in New York who study magic and have access to a magical world.

    Maybe Angels (CBS) - a legal show about two angels who help their former spouses.

    The Munsters (NBC) – Bryan Fuller’s revival of the 1960s-series-turned-movie franchise billed as "Modern Family" meets "True Blood."

    Pillars of Smoke (NBC) - drama which revolves around a police investigation into disappearance of a remote cult that slowly uncovers the darkest secrets of the region and its inhabitants, as well as a grander political conspiracy and environmental disaster from which the cult members are attempting to escape.

    RIP (NBC) - single-camera comedy about a reluctant angel, a “Kindness Guru” who happens to be an asshole who dies and in order to get to heaven is forced to return to earth and help people with the help of his simple minded brother.

    Seeing Things (SyFy) - centers on a cop who becomes a ghost after his violent death. The only person who can help close his last case is a socially awkward man who realizes that the hallucinations he's had all his life might not be a figment of his imagination.

    The Seven Wonders (ABC) - drama which tracks an unlikely five-member team as they search the world for seven pieces of an ancient and powerful relic.

    Sleepers (CBS) - drama about a woman who has the gift to save people who are caught somewhere between life and death.

    The Spectre (FOX) - drama based on the DC Comics hero, a former cop serving time in afterlife limbo who hunts down earthly criminals on behalf of the dead - and mortals soon to be dead if ultimate justice is not served.

    Under the Dome (Showtime) – drama based on Stephen King 's novel about locals at a Maine vacation spot who battle one another when a force field suddenly surrounds their town and cuts them off from the rest of the world.

    Unearthly (CW), based on the book by Cynthia Hand about a girl who realizes that her destiny is to become an angel.

    Untitled Ghost Hunters Project (TNT) - drama about a motley crew of young friends find their calling as investigators of paranormal disturbances and join forces to fight crime against the mysterious ghosts that haunt their city.

    Untitled I See Dead People Project (CBS) - drama about a female detective who finds she can interact with dead people - the victims of murders she investigates.

    Untitled More Weird Shit in British Columbia Forests Project (TNT) - this drama follows a family of cops who uncover the mystical and often crime-ridden world of a small Pacific Northwest town where things aren't as they appear.

    Untitled Harry Potter for Grownups Project (ABC) - drama about a female cop who, after pursuing a seemingly unsolvable case, discovers a magical world that exists within New York City.

    Untitled Touched by an Angel Ripoff (CBS) – spiritual drama that centers on an ordinary man making an extraordinary impact on people’s lives.

    Wasteland (TNT) - drama about a U.S. Marshal in the American Southwest who is charged with hunting down the supernatural escapees on the run following a federal prison break.

    The Watchers (ABC) - drama about a fallen angel looking for his mortal love.

    Wicked Good (ABC) - drama about a family of witches - soldiers in an eternal battle between good and evil - who are dispatched to suburban Orange County, where they must root out dark forces while battling the challenges of everyday life in suburbia.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Well, dayum!
     
  7. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    See, we're not being starved for sci fi! We just have to learn to love mutant/alien/ghost/vampire cops. :p

    With Once Upon a Time and American Horror Story being two of the biggest successes this season, I'd expect more fairy tales and more outlandish horror than this list implies. But The Walking Dead hasn't inspired a zombie outbreak, strangely enough...
     
  8. TheNatureRoy

    TheNatureRoy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    I probably should have led with the most important part about 'The Sector', which is that Cinemax had it under development but then passed, and that at last report (Deadline.com, Aug. 31) Discovery's Science Channel was considering picking it up. So perhaps not completely dead yet, but maybe not enough to make the list either.
     
  9. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Okay, I'll boot that one (too bad, sounds fun.)
     
  10. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Possibly because it's a stab at converting into TV a trend that's been big for a while in print and film... although I heard the series second season premiere was impressively good, ratings wise? That might prompt some new zombie shows.

    Beyond that, well, Falling Skies is about an alien invasion instead of zombies, but it follows a few of the conventions familiar to zombie stories - we begin after society has totally collapsed, people can be dehumanized by the enemy and turned into monsters, and so on.
     
  11. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    You forget that Zombieland is in development as a series.
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    And there are also plenty of zombie attacks on Death Valley.
     
  13. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Definitely - the second season premiere broke cable records with over 7 million viewers (NBC should be so lucky to get numbers like that. It's nice to see quality being rewrarded for a change.

    But the secret of that show's success really isn't the zombies. It's the quality of the writing, acting and production. The fact that the premise delivers built-in, knuckle-biting action doesn't hurt, but you could say the same about the premises of other high-rated cable shows: Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story.

    And quality is hard to imitate, especially for the broadcast networks and good old SyFy. ;) Plus zombies are probably hard for broadcast to do correctly, what with the FCC breathing down their necks.

    Once zombie does not an outbreak make! Darryl could take care of that sucker with two hands tied behind his back (he'd just spit out the arrow with his teeth.)

    Not in development, doesn't qualify for the list.

    The fundamental difference is that the Falling Skies aliens potentially can be negotiated with (and if my theories are correct, the skitters are possible allies.)

    And speaking of AMC, I guess they were piqued by the way I singled them out for being absent from my sf/f development list, because they just announced that they're picking up the alien first-contact drama. :D

     
  14. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Please let them use the AC/DC song!!
     
  15. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    So Thunderstruck is essentially X-COM, the TV show?
     
  16. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    'Negotiated with' is I think too strong a term. I'd prefer 'have motives'. Obviously the zombies on Walking Dead do not think beyond shambling towards things to eat, but the aliens in Falling Skies can have a real agenda that we probably will discover the entirety of over the run of the show.

    And... that's actually kind of benefical in the long run, which is probably why we get the likes of Cylons and Skitters more than we do zombies (in the first season of Battlestar Galactica the Cylons were also largely an opaque threatening menace.) The zombies can't change, can't be understood, can't be anything other than a mass of diseased killing flesh. Good enough premise for a feature film but one will see if it'll sustain Walking Dead... so far, Walking Dead's solution seems to have been to push the zombies to the background as much as possible. The human element drives much of that show, I think.

    Sounds vaguely interesting. David Eick isn't exactly my favourite BSG alumni, but maybe they'll pull together something interesting here... or not. I suppose it's too much to hope for something like early Earth: Final Conflict, with humanity being watched over by an alien race with highly ambiguous intentions.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    I'm not sure it's valid to use "first-contact drama" as a synonym for "UFO project." "UFO" implies mysterious ("unidentified") unearthly entities that are keeping hidden and avoiding contact. "First contact" generally refers more to the beginning of open or formal exchange between species. They're two rather different kinds of story. (Although one can transform into the other, as in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.)
     
  18. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    <smacks own forehead!> Gah! The Borg are zombies! Well, until they were ruined with the introduction of the queen.
     
  19. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    On further reflection, Thunderstruck is a bad name and they should change it. It sounds like a workplace sitcom about TV weathermen. :rommie:

    I'm jumping ahead in the story - they could be negotiated with, and I'm hoping they will be. It could take the story in interesting directions, and there does need to be some evolution in the story beyond just "skirmish with aliens and run away" which has already gotten boring.

    That's really the only way you can do a zombie story, unless you're changing the zombies into something entirely different. "Thinking" zombies just undermines what makes a zombie story cool, and then it starts to become more of a vampire story, like I Am Legend (I'm thinking of the original novel).

    The premise sure sounds like "first-contact" with aliens to me - "powerful and enigmatic entities that begin appearing all over the world." And obviously the story is going to have to evolve just beyond that kind of shadowy presence, or they're not going to have any story at all.

    Or it refers to aliens arriving on Earth regardless of whether they want to set up formal diplomatic relations and cultural exchanges. Simply being present and making humans aware of them unambiguously constitutes "contact."

    But now that I've dug up the article from last May where I read about an alien-contact drama at AMC, I'm wondering whether this is a different series altogether with a very similar premise to the first-contact series that I was thinking of?

    AMC reportedly wanted this to be re-developed, and if it's the same concept, they re-developed it pretty thoroughly and brought in a new creative team. :D Or maybe that pitch just whetted their appetite for the subject matter and made them more receptive to Eick's pitch.

    I actually like the idea of it being centered around Great Falls, Montana (my mom's home town!) rather than JPL, although of course they'll need to have a scientist character in the mix.

    Oh don't tell me that just occurred to you! :D And yeah, the fact that the Borg are zombies is why the queen thing sucks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2011
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

    Well, that depends on what they mean by "entities." Since they describe it as a "UFO" drama, that suggests something more like mysterious phenomena showing up here and there, rather than alien ambassadors who show up and say "take me to your leader." As it's generally used in SF, the phrase "first contact story" implies (in this context) a story where aliens come to Earth with the intent of revealing themselves to us and interacting openly with us, thereby changing the world forever, while the phrase "UFO story" implies a story where aliens come to Earth to observe or influence us in secret and most people don't know or believe they're here, or at least have very little information and no understanding of the visitors' goals or motives. The X-Files is a UFO drama; V is a first-contact drama. They're more or less opposing ways of approaching the "alien visitation" trope.


    Again, I'd cite The X-Files as a counterexample. Or Lost in its early seasons. The story could be about the characters trying to cope with the mystery of these entities or the effects they inflict for inexplicable reasons.

    I vaguely recall reading a prose SF story involving a situation where aliens had been causing certain bizarre, inexplicable manifestations on Earth for years and humanity was just trying to cope with the consequences and adjust their lives around these phenomena, without ever understanding where they came from or why they happened.


    Strictly speaking, yes, but "first contact" is a term of the art which carries certain specific connotations, ever since Murray Leinster coined it in the 1945 novelette of the same name. Or to put it in more broadly familiar terms, consider the Star Trek episode and movie that used that title. In both cases, the TNG episode "First Contact" and the movie Star Trek: First Contact, the more advanced of the two cultures had been observing the less advanced one for some time, even clandestinely moving among them, but actual first contact was not considered to have occurred until the two species officially met and communicated openly. I concede it's not a rigidly defined term, but I'm talking about its general connotations.
     

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