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Debris creator hopes his new NBC series will appeal to those missing Fringe

By Tara Bennett

It’s been eight years since executive producer J.H. Wyman closed the story on cult favorite Fringe, and seven years since his last genre series, Almost Human. But he’s back with a brand-new, original sci-fi series, Debris, debuting Mar. 1 on NBC.

At today’s Television Critics Association winter press day for NBC, Wyman and Debris actors Riann Steele (Finola Jones) and Jonathan Tucker (Bryan Beneventi) revealed the show's first trailer. They also talked to reporters virtually from their Vancouver shooting location.

As it happens, Fringe was also shot in Vancouver. But Wyman told reporters that while there are certainly odd phenomenon and science-related anomalies connecting both shows, Debris has a very different thematic exploration.

“For me, this is a new concept in things I’m trying to say,” Wyman explained. “This is a very different concept. It’s dealing with what I am going through now because there is always my DNA in the show. And I love my fans from Fringe so there is something in this for them, but it’s also its own thing.”

Asked about why he’s come back to broadcast TV with the series, when many creatives head to streaming or cable to tell their sci-fi centric stories, Wyman said it was important to keep these kinds of stories on regular television too. He noted that NBC was immediately encouraging and felt, as he does, that sci-fi is really mainstream now.

“They immediately got the concept and wanted to tell these stories to the same people that I want to reach,” he added.

Set in the near future, Debris is an original concept from Wyman about Orbital, a newly formed coalition agency between America’s CIA and Great Britain’s MI6. The agency finds, stabilizes, and investigates remnants from a destroyed space ship that has fallen to Earth. Two Orbital agents, Bryan Beneventi (Tucker) and Finola Jones (Steele), are new partners with very different backgrounds and work ethics, who travel far and wide to investigate the ship's global impact.

“Bryan served overseas in the Special Forces,” Tucker said of his character. “He’s more about intuition and experience on the ground, which is beautifully balanced by Riann.”

Steele added that Finola “joins from the U.K. side, as Orbital was created by her father.” Having lost both her parents in the last year, Steele revealed that her character is still actively mourning, which drives her quest for answers. “It’s her duty continuing his work, and we follow her journey, partnering with Bryan, and finding a way to trust each other…”

While Wyman said that the format of the series would present a “debris of the week” centric case, there would also be an overarching mythology about why these pieces are interacting in such dramatic ways with humanity. As with his other series, he said Debris will come at the occurrences with a lot of heart.

“I like to put something out there that will make a difference,” Wyman said. “There are a lot of people who do the 'little green men' thing better than me. I am interested in what does it look like when there are questions asked about the human condition? You don’t know what you don’t know. Stories that I can tell through these types of takes and concepts really interest me.”

Debris debuts Mar. 1 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. 

SYFY WIRE and NBC are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.