Several months back, a great many television series lost their spots on various U.S. TV networks, in what Critical Hit and many other outlets were deeming “the great TV series purge of 2018.” Fans lost the chance to see well loved characters, plots, and mysteries carry on or even come to a close. One series that could very well have suffered such a fate, The Expanse, was salvaged by none other than streaming service, Amazon Prime. Naren Shankar, The Expanse showrunner, spoke with journalists at Indiewire recently, expressing his gratitude and talking about the future of this series.
The Expanse is an American science fiction television show that originally aired on the Syfy network on December 14, 2015. Starring Steven Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, and Thomas Jane, from heavy hitters such as The Mist and The Punisher. Jane stars as detective Joe Miller. The Expanse has a 8.4 out of 10 stars on IMDB.
Within the universe of this Syfy original series, viewers witnessed a distant future where Earth has expanded far beyond merely colonizing Mars, and in fact has entire civilizations on man-built stations, as well as various other planets, such as Eros. For the plot, a police detective in the asteroid belt, an interplanetary freighter, and an earth-bound United Nations leader discover a complex conspiracy threatening a rebellion colony on the asteroid belt, one which could potentially start a war between Earth and Mars. The television show is gripping to many viewers, as well as the cast and crew involved in its creation. Originally a novel series with nine installations, written by James S.A. Corey, the show has a 90 percent on the Average Tomatometer, and an Average Audience Score of 96 percent.
Naturally when TV cancellations started rolling in, fans were sweating about losing The Expanse before getting any true closure, barely three seasons in. In stepped Jeff Bezos, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Amazon, to rescue the series when Syfy was nearing cancellation due to money problems. The biggest issue was related to Syfy not owning the show. Produced by Alcon Entertainment, The Expanse came with an expensive price tag on its production, meaning Syfy only saw a fraction of the series profits. Also, with only being featured on a cable network, creators of the series were notably limited, as showrunner Naren Shankar explained to Indiewire.
“It was a really good working relationship on the creative side. I think just the economics of television on basic cable, the fact that they didn’t own the show, that made it very tough. The deal that had created ‘The Expanse’ initially on Syfy, that’s from six years ago. It was an entirely different time in the business, and I think the economics shifted so much. It just became impossible for them to sustain it.”
Fans bombarded Jeff Bezos and Amazon with pleas to save The Expanse. In fact, a plane with a gigantic banner attached circled Amazon HQ all day, calling for Bezos to bail out The Expanse. Jennifer Salke, a head over at Amazon Studios, had this to say about fan’s pleas.
“Amazon is a company obsessed with its customers, and our customers are obsessed with this show, and they let us know that.”
Shankar thinks going to a streaming service was the right move all along, and expressed during his interview that he wished he could hop back in time and redo the production, saying it “straight-up would go to a streamer. There’s no way this show would have ever gone to basic cable.”