Master Chief will be the lead character in Showtime's Halo series

The “Halo” video game series has been one of the giants of the industry since the early 2000’s, so it's befitting the franchise is finally getting a major live-action treatment in the form of a TV series on Showtime. There’s a lot of ground to cover, for sure, and while Showtime's President of Programming Gary Levine and CEO David Nevins were at the Television Critics Association they revealed, among other details, that the focus of the show would be on the series’ main character and mascot, Master Chief.

The iconic character and his green armor may be recognizable to anyone who has held a video game controller at any point during this century, but never have we seen his face or eyes. This presents some challenges on a character development front, but it's something that will be tackled during the show’s run, according to Levine.

“It is a key question and an important part of our series is all I say,” he said. “He is a lead character.”

Levine also revealed that the show was likely to air in 2020 and that it would be an “enormous undertaking,” taking place across several locations on varying planets, and with Rupert Wyatt (RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) directing several episodes. As for if the show will take storylines from the series, Levine said writer Kyle Killen is working on an original idea that will set itself apart from the games.

“It is a new story, but we are being incredibly respectful of the canon and working with Microsoft 343 people to be sure we don’t violate any of that,” Levine said. “We made a conscious decision to hire a writer not known for sci-fi or big battle movies because that’s already baked into the Halo franchise and we will service that but we also wanted to make sure we were getting underneath the armor of the Spartans to the human drama, so it felt like it belonged on Showtime. Our hope is it will appeal to Halo fans and Showtime drama fans.”

One comparison the show keeps being drawn to is GAME OF THRONES, which began as a popular series of fantasy novels and blew into a major franchise after becoming a series on HBO. While that show capitalized on our desires for dragons, gratuitous nudity and long walks in the gardens, Nevins said the “Halo” show will do something different and target a genre often forgotten on TV.

“I’ve seen scripts. I think it’s a very different genre. It is futuristic space based science fiction. It’s not fantasy. There’s been one iconic franchise in my opinion in the history of television in that category and that’s Star Trek,” Nevins said.  “Probably 10 or 12 of the top 20 movies of all time are futuristic sci-fi. It’s weird that television hasn’t turned up those kinds of franchises. It was a long time to get the script where we felt we had something really interesting and felt like it belonged on Showtime in terms of its character depth. It’s going to be a big show.”

I've been around these streets long enough to have heard about all the attempts to bring "Halo" the big screen, only to have those dreams turn into ash like a Marvel character. But now that we're in a new age of television, one that's bolder and willing to take on bigger projects, "Halo" seems like a perfect fit for a series. The games have established a big, open world, and one that needs time to be developed in ways a movie can't offer. Live-action video game movies are often garbage, so maybe the key to success has been in TV all along. 



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