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The great Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Doom Patrol) showed up to NYCC today to promote his upcoming TV series on SYFY, Resident Alien. Things got started with the (out-of-this) world premiere of the sci-fi project's pilot episode. We can't tell you much, since the show doesn't premiere until next year, but trust us when we say the first episode is further proof that Tudyk is one of the greatest comedic performers of our generation.
“Enjoy watching me crash yet another spaceship. They keep giving me the keys, man!" said the actor prior to the screening, prompting a wave of applause and cheering from the audience. “I feel very luck to get to share this with you guys. It’s a very funny show.”
Based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, the show follows an alien (played by Tudyk) who crashes on Earth and assumes the identity of the late Doctor Harry Vanderspeigle in a small Colorado town. As he integrates into the human world, "Harry" grapples with the dilemma of whether our species is worth saving in this "twisted and comedic fish-out-of-water story."
“Alan was literally the very last person to come in," said writer/executive producer Chris Sheridan during the panel's Q&A, adding that they tried out more than 100 actors from America and the U.K. "I didn’t know what I was looking for, and I didn’t know what the character was until Alan came in and did his audition ... We knew immediately that he was the one."
Tudyk later admitted that he got the Resident Alien gig on the same day that he was offered the role of Mr. Nobody on Doom Patrol.
In adapting the comic, Sheridan admitted that he had to take "a lot of liberties," the biggest of which involves how humans see Harry. In the source material, the reader always sees him as an alien, but in the show we only see his alien form in special instances like mirrored reflections and the like. Constant prosthetics were a bit impractical for television, but it was also about getting the viewers to care about the central character.
"In TV, the audience has a connection to the actor playing the role," he added. “The core of Harry is very similar to Harry in the comic. I love the humor in the comic and try to preserve all that ... I felt like there’s a lot of optimism in the comics. I wanted to capture that [too]. There’s a lot of great stuff on TV, but a lot of dark stuff [as well]. I didn’t want it to be one of those."
As the season progresses, the audience will learn more about Harry's past as he learns more about the town of Patience, Colorado. Again, we can't divulge a ton, but the darkly comedic pilot does end on a cliffhanger that will sustain the rest of Season 1's overarching story. Moreover, it's actually a mystery arc translated directly from the comics.
“Along the way, we wanna paint this town as real and paint it as a real American town ... Harry’s gonna see all sort of aspects of human nature," continued Sheridan, explaining how he wanted the Patience plot to be fleshed out and carry its own, even without the E.T. concept, which is just the genre cherry on top. “I tried to create a full three-dimensional backstory. I tried to pull the alien out of the story and create a world within this town."
The series is produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television division. Sara Tomko (Sneaky Pete), Corey Reynolds (The Closer), Alice Wetterlund (Silicon Valley), and Levi Fiehler (Mars) all co-star. Tomko and Reynolds were both present for the Q&A segment of the panel. And since Sheridan said this, it's fair game to tell you that Episode 2 will introduce a "government presence" that's hot on the tail of Colorado's latest resident. This may coincide with some stunt casting the show is looking into doing.
Please let it be Mulder and Scully!
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