Even by ‘early renewal’ standards, this is very early indeed. Nearly a year ahead of its spring 2020 FIRST season debut – and in what feels to be a huge vote of confidence in the face of less sure-footed controversy – the television version of the acclaimed Snowpiercer has been granted a SECOND season. The first run of the series was set to debut on TNT but now looks as if it will move to sister platform TBS.
The original 2013 film, based on French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, tells the story of a massive train travelling through an icy, globally-apocalyptic landscape and the class warfare and revolution that breaks out after seven years of non-stop momentum – with the lowly workers slowly moving down the miles of carriages. It starred Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho, Go Ha-sung, Octavia Spencer and Ed Harris. The television version boasts names such as Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Alison Wright, Mickey Sumner, Susan Park, Iddo Goldberg, Katie McGuinness, Lena Hall, Annalise Basso, Sam Otto, Roberto Urbina, Sheila Vand and Jaylin Fletcher and Rowan Blanchard (who will be a regular from the second season).
The high-concept project has moved towards television screens at a steady pace, but been dogged by controversy. Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) kickstarted the process as executive-producer but left in January 2018 over ‘creative differences’. His replacement was Graeme Manson (Orphan Black). Some controversy continued with Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Doctor Strange refusing to come back and reshoot parts of the pilot he’d already lensed. (“The 72-page Snowpiercer TV pilot script by @Josh_Friedman is the best I’ve ever read. The feature-length pilot I made from that script may be my best work. The new showrunner has a radically different vision for the show. I am forgoing my option to direct the extreme reshoots,” Derrickson said in a tweet on June 29…) James Hawes (who has directed episodes of The Alienist, Doctor Who, Black Mirror and Penny Dreadful) came in in his place.
Since then there’s been irregular bulletins, but as yet there’s no real footage or specifics on how the central idea is being expanded. And that’s left some people doubtful as to whether the show will be as impactful as originally conceived.
“Snowpiercer is the perfect show to kick-off TBS’ entry into dramas with intricate storytelling, stunning visuals and first-class acting,” Brett Weitz, general manager for TBS and TNT, said in a statement. “We believe in the longevity of this series and that audiences will be amazed by the fantastical world that brings to life such relevant social, political and environmental issues.”
The show’s range of other behind-the-scenes talent includes Marty Adelstein (Cowboy Bebop, Hanna), Becky Clements (Aquarius, Last Man Standing), Matthew O’Connor (Continuum, Tin Man) , as well as the original film’s producers Bong Joon Ho, Miky Lee, Tae-sung Jeong, Park Chan-wook, Lee Tae-hun and Dooho Choi.