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"Blade Runner" as a TV Series? Prequels? Sequels? A Look Back at Some Ideas

by Christopher Campbell
March 3, 2011 9:58 AM
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Wake up! Time to die! Just as we all are just dying from the time we are born, so is every classic film merely headed to the recycle bin or sequel machine from the moment of its inception. People seem up in arms about the news that "Blade Runner" film and TV rights are being bought by Alcon Entertainment for potential prequel and sequel projects. But the plan seems to be for stories set in the same world as Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic. That sounded familiar, so I went into the Spout archives (literally the Internet Archives, via their Wayback Machine) and dug up an idea for a "Blade Runner" TV series I had back in 2009 for a list titled 'Ten 80s Movies That Need TV Series.' I've re-posted that list to the new Spout blog, but here's what I had to say about the potential for a "Blade Runner" spin-off:

“Blade Runner” (1982)

Usually it’s better to adapt TV series from bad sci-fi movies, like “Stargate” and “Highlander,” but if Warner Bros. can turn the “Terminator” franchise into a successful show, the studio can do the same with “Blade Runner.” It wouldn’t need to reprise any of the characters from the movie, as it could be about another blade runner working in Los Angeles, either prior to or after the events of the film. One thing that would be a nice touch, though: keep the dated futurism, so any product placement in the show is for brands that no longer exist. And the effects and technology should be limited to what was available for depiction 27 years ago, meaning flying cars are okay, but computers should still appear quite basic.

At that time, of course, a commenter named "itsalljustaride" said, "Mmmm. I object to Blade Runner. It was adapted from a Phillip K. Dick novel, and a series would probably just bastardize the concept."

But Ridley Scott was apparently okay with the idea, since one month later the New York Times reported that the original film's director -- and brother Tony Scott -- were planning a web series set in the same world as "Blade Runner" but not focused on the same characters. It was to take place before the events in the movie. From the Times article:

“We don’t take any of the canon or copyrighted assets from the movie,” said David Bausola, founding partner of Ag8, who said he hoped the series would debut later this summer and that the first episodes would depict events about two years into the future. “It’s actually based on the same themes as ‘Blade Runner.’ It’s the search for what it means to be human and understanding the notion of empathy. We are inspired by ‘Blade Runner.’”

That never happened, but Ridley Scott had been talking about the franchise even before then, considering sequels based on K.W. Jeter's literary sequels (which continue Deckard's story), while screenwriters had been hired to come up with other ideas for producer Bud Yorkin. This is from an old interview at /Film with Travis Wright, who was more interested in following the same characters:

What does it mean to be human? That’s the central question in life and the paramount question in Science Fiction. More pointedly: Is or isn’t Deckard a replicant? What happens to Rachel? What are the off world colonies like? What happens to replicants once Tyrell is killed by one of his creations? These are some of the questions we explored with Bud Yorkin for a few years and I believe are a great basis for a story many fans like me are dying to see. Working on them has been a dream.

Meanwhile, for another consideration of how Alcon's plans could go, the 1999 cable series "Total Recall 2070" was apparently at least inspired by "Blade Runner" even though it was more directly based on Philip K. Dick's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" rather than his "BR" source, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" A new "Blade Runner" spin-off, sequel or prequel could be just as indirectly related to the story of Deckard as that. Check out part of an episode below:


I'm still down for something like that, a "Blade Runner"-related story merely set in the same world, which is all Alcon can apparently do anyway. I guess we'll wait and see what comes of this.


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