If there’s one thing that a quick look at the current state of television and movies will tell you, it’s that there’s not much need for original ideas when there’s so much out there ready and waiting to be adapted, updated or just outright ripped off. That’s why we’ve decided to help in that process with a series that offers up some of the things we’d like to see being brought to big screen or small. This week’s suggestion? Saucer Country.
What Is It?
A monthly comic published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint and created by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly (with other artists occasionally lending hands when necessary), Saucer Country is a series that seems oddly out of time and strangely contemporary at the same time. Mixing pop culture and politics, it centers around Arcadia Alvarado, a US presidential hopeful who has apparently been abducted by aliens and is attempting to get to the bottom of her abduction at the same time as running for President… with various and numerous people and organizations paying attention to her for either (or both) activities that you might expect. Cornell's high concept pitch is The X-Files meets The West Wing, but I'd suggest throwing in some of Grant Morrison's seminal 1990s comic The Invisibles in there as well, for flavor.
What Could It Be?
Suggesting that this is a television series in waiting seems redundant when you consider that Cornell's pitch for the series is a melding of two television series, and yet… this is clearly a television series in waiting. Even without the political angle of Alvarado's presidential run - Something that, depending on how long the (comics) series will run could result in a story that's far more political than it currently is, which could appeal to a different audience than most genre tales - Saucer Country is definitely a stronger story and set-up for long form storytelling than most post-Lost attempts to get an ongoing mystery series set around science-fiction ideas; compared with The Event, say, or FlashForward, there's no contest when it comes to which one has both more clarity of purpose and suggestion that it is, in fact, headed towards a conclusion that actually exists, as opposed to being made up as it's going along.
(Part of that may be that Saucer Country is impressively pared down for a narrative that's so broad; there aren't scores of extraneous characters attempting to appeal to multiple demographics, with it working instead on the far more reasonable idea that having characters who are charismatic and interesting enough will appeal to many types of people regardless of whether they share a gender or ethnicity. Call it the Benjamin Linus rule.)
It's common to suggest that shows offering complicated long-running plots and refusing easy-answers belong on cable TV as opposed to network, but if done well, Saucer Country could survive on a Fox or NBC (Maybe not ABC, though; RIP, Last Resort). Give Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' Josh Friedman or Leverage's Jon Rogers the creative reins, staff up on smart writers with enough of a sly sense of humor to get the satirical elements of Cornell's writing, and hook in Carla Guigino as the lead, and there's a series right there. The truth is still out there, after all, and it'd be nice to see it be slowly uncovered for mainstream audiences once again.