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SDCC: Pandora creator unboxes why the show is like the anti-Blade Runner

By Josh Weiss
Pandora key art The CW

The cat's out of the box! The CW's new sci-fi series, Pandora, isn't only a ripe space for unlimited box puns, it's also a loving homage to the hopeful future envisioned by famous genre creatives like Gene Roddenberry.

“We live in troubled times, cynical times. I wanted to do a throwback to the classic storytelling we loved in the original Star Trek," said creator/executive producer Mark A. Altman at the show's SDCC 2019 panel. “Everything’s Blade Runner these days. Everything’s cynical and dystopian ... It’s hopeful and it’s optimistic and it’s about a family that comes together to do great things ... “We brought the fun back to sci-fi."

"I just love these characters … It’s all wrapped in a package that’s entertaining," added executive producer, Thomas P. Vitale. “We don’t want it to be campy and silly … You want to keep it fun and keep it light, but never campy."

Pandora SDCC 2019

Naming each episode of the first season after Bob Dylan songs was also meant as a tip of the hat to the profound installments of the '60s-era Star Trek like Requiem for Methuselah and "City on the Edge of Forever."

“I love the poetry of the original Star Trek and who’s more poetic than Bob Dylan?" Altman continued, going to joke that, "Next season is [named after] Taylor Swift.”

Transpiring in the year 2199, Pandora centers on Jax (Priscilla Quintana), a young woman who enters the Space Training Academy after losing everything in her life. As Jax trains to defend Earth from all kinds of cosmic threats, more details about her past emerge, making her question if she is meant to save humanity or destroy it.

“I love that she was a fighter. I love that she was a badass and cooler than I’ll ever be," said Quintana. "She jumped out at me from the moment I met her … “I couldn’t stop pinching myself … It’s been a lot of pressure in the best way … It gets draining, but getting back to the cast, I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else."

"It’s like being in a playground, it’s so much fun," stated Tehmina Sunny, who plays Regan.

Pandora | The Truth Trailer | The CW

Season 1 of Pandora is currently airing on The CW. Episode 2—"Chimes of Freedom"—airs Tuesday, July 23 at 8pm EST. Fans at the panel actually got a special look at the new episode with a clone-filled clip where Jax helps depose a cultish religious demagogue.

“It also deals with the nature of free speech on campus," Altman teased. "Should there be limits to free expression? [It also deals with] religious extremism and evangelism ... Despite all the space ships and the laser guns and the shoot outs, it’s about the characters … The next few episodes are about exploring the characters … [With] some twists and turns.”

Check out our recap of the season premiere right here.

Oliver Dench, John Harlan Kim, and Johann Urb all co-star.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.