A real fish-out-of-water story, the show follows an alien, whose ship crashes just outside a small Colorado town. Unable to return home, he is forced to assume the identity of one Doctor Harry Vanderspeigle. Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Doom Patrol) is taking up the titular role of a visitor from beyond the stars as he tries his best to fit in and solve a mysterious murder in town.
During an appearance at TCA 2020 on Saturday, showrunner Chris Sheridan talked about how his own experience with a UFO helped make the project a reality.
"I was in the Bahamas, with my wife at the time. It was 10 p.m. on a Sunday night [and we] saw a dot rising up on the horizon," he recounted of his honeymoon. "Two seconds later, it was over us. It was triangular with six circular lights [that were] sweeping the beach ... It got me interested in aliens. And then in October 2015, Amblin TV sent me a copy of the graphic novel and asked me if I was interested in developing. I fell in love with it."
It's only fitting that Amblin—the production company founded by Steven Spielberg (director of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.)—would be behind the upcoming adaptation. Similar to E.T.'s positive impact on Elliott and his family, Alien Harry will help the residents of his adopted town both understand and improve themselves.
"The town is a bunch of weirdos," explained Sheridan. "It's surrounded by mountains, so it's like an island. [There are] people who have secrets and feel like outsiders. They slowly bring those walls down, and in the center is this alien who is slowly bringing them together to make them better human beings."
"It’s like he’s wearing a mask of me looking out on the world. It’s about trying to find the 'not creepy' face," added Tudyk. "The longer he is on Earth, it starts to play upon him. He starts to feel emotions."
While Harry is mostly seen as a human, his alien form is intermittently glimpsed through reflections and the eyes of a young boy—the only person around who can see his true face.
"In the graphic novel, the reader sees Harry just as alien the whole time," said Sheridan. "It's expensive to have the actor in prosthetics or makeup [all the time]. TV audiences connect to the actors. [We thought it would be a] disservice to fall in love with Harry only as an alien."
SYFY WIRE was lucky enough to catch the pilot episode at New York Comic Con back in October, and can tell you without hesitation that Tudyk turns in a performance that is beautifully comedic and nuanced.
Sara Tomko (Sneaky Pete), Corey Reynolds (The Closer), Alice Wetterlund (Silicon Valley), and Levi Fiehler (Mars) all co-star.
Resident Alien makes a crash-landing on SYFY this summer, although no set premiere date has been announced for the show just yet.