Logan star Dafne Keen plays Lyra, a young orphan girl who lives in a parallel universe where science and magic are entwined and all humans have animal familiars known as daemons. She and her friend Will, who possesses a particular magical knife, ultimately find themselves caught up in a battle against celestial powers that spans many worlds.
Along the way, there are polar bear kings, philosophical debates, witches and something called Dust, which turns out to be kind of important later on.
(So, if you haven’t guessed yet? This plot is kind of hard to explain. But it’s still awesome, just saying.)
Pullman’s fantasy trilogy is comprised of three novels: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It’s not clear year whether Season 1 of the TV series will adapt the entirety of Pullman’s first novel The Golden Compass, or whether the story will span multiple seasons before moving on to the second book. But according to Deadline, Season 2 will be comprised of eight episodes, so make of that what you will.
Other notable and exciting figures in the cast include James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters and everyone’s favorite Hamilton writer Lin-Manuel Miranda. Academy Award winner Tom Hooper, who won his Oscar for helping Anglophile favorite The King’s Speech, is the lead director on the series.
The BBC originally picked up the rights to His Dark Materials back in 2015, and the longer production time is a hopeful indication that the corporation is really trying to do the story right. (For once. This saga has a particularly complicated history when it comes to onscreen adaptations, and the most well-known – a feature film starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig – was a rather massive flop.)
Premium network HBO has joined the series as a co-producer, so it will be the place to watch His Dark Materials outside the UK. This makes a certain amount of sense due to the hefty price tag attached to the series, which was always likely to be something only a premium outlet could shoulder in terms of broadcast rights. Furthermore, HBO is currently seeking for its next big fantasy epic with just one season of Game of Thrones left. And His Dark Materials, with its many battles and theological debates, fits that bill pretty perfectly.
No one knows yet when this series will air on either side of the pond, but since this is also likely to be a show requiring a lot of postproduction and effects work, I wouldn't look for it before somewhere around late 2019. But here’s hoping that this version it does better by Pullman’s magical universe and great characters than the adaptations which have come before.
Are you a His Dark Materials fan? Curious about this particular fantasy story? Let’s discuss in the comments.