Los Angeles is under occupation by a military regime in the upcoming USA Network sci-fi drama "Colony." But while some residents choose to collaborate with the Colony Transition Authority, and benefit from the new order, others rebel and suffer the consequences.
Starring Josh Holloway ("Lost") and Sarah Wayne Callies ("The Walking Dead"), the series was co-created by Ryan Condal and Carlton Cuse ("Lost," "Bates Motel"), who revealed the dystopian setting will take its cues from Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.
"You had the incongruity of Nazi tanks set against these amazing medieval cities from European history, but life in these places went on very quickly," Condal said at a gathering of journalists during New York Comic Con, where he was joined by Cuse and Holloway. "People adapted and moved on." What fascinated him and Cuse was exactly how some of those people survived. "The really interesting thing was the collaborators within those places that aligned with the Nazis -- the Vichy in France. It's like, how do you do that? How do you turn against your own people?"
Cuse added that while "Colony" is science fiction, the story is really more intimate. "The human story kicks off in the very first episode in the show. Josh's character is an ex-FBI agent who's sort of forced to become a collaborator and hunt down the resistance," he said. "That's really where our story starts, and there are a lot of twists and turns, a lot of moral dilemmas that come up for him and his family members as he's on that quest."
They wouldn't say who exactly the occupying force is, but they did reveal a character named Geronimo leads the resistance.
"What's so rich about the storytelling is in reality, what would you do if they had your family there to hang or burn or kill or send to a concentration camp?" Holloway told reporters. "Who comes first, your family or humanity? These are uncomfortable themes, and old themes in history. one of the oldest. We've either been colonized or colonized someone else throughout human history. It has sci-fi elements, but it's ultimately a human story."
It was noted that "Colony" shares more than a few elements with Cuse and Holloway's previous collaboration, "Lost" -- namely, extremely limited locations. Asked why that is, Holloway offered, "Compression, my friend. Compression makes for good drama, doesn't it?"
"It actually does!" Cuse agreed. "The physical manifestation of this colonization is these 300-foot metallic walls that go up around the city of Los Angeles, and that is a very intentional metaphor for societal oppression. And it's looming visually in a lot of the shots of the show, and I think it's a constant reminder of what these characters face."
Holloway said he was thrilled when Cuse pitched him another high-concept sci-fi mystery.
"After working with this guy and not knowing anything for six years, I was like, 'Oh! I'm trained for this! I don't know anything!' I love a story where the audience knows as much about what's going on as the characters," Holloway said. "It's a slow reveal of the mysteries and what's happening, and you take the ride with me. And I love big storytelling, I love sci-fi." He pointed to "Dune" as one of his favorite book series. He mentioned he'd been trying to work with Cuse and Condal since they tried to turn the comic "The Sixth Gun" into a TV miniseries in 2012 ("I wanted to do that, but it just wasn't the right time for me for that"), and was excited to finally get the chance.
Cuse said the "Colony" character was always written for Holloway, and they often referred to the character in meetings as Josh. So what would have happened had he not taken the role?
"I mean, I think you have to do that," Cuse said. "You have to kind of hope that you're going to get what you get, and if you don't, we would have adjusted accordingly. But thankfully it worked out."
Asked how he dealt with the finale of "Lost" in a different way than his longtime collaborator and co-showrunner Damon Lindelof, Cuse replied, "I fully expected that there was no possible ending to the show that would satisfy all the people that were out there. So when Damon and I sat down to write the finale, it was like, 'Let's do the version that we want to do. Let's tell the story that we want to tell.' I was very reconciled to the fact that it would be great for some people and it wouldn't work for other people. That's fine."
He added, "I think out of 121 hours of 'Lost,' hopefully it was an entertaining journey and the journey was enjoyable."
"Colony" premieres Thursday, Jan. 14, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA.