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December 06, 2018

Nightflyers: SyFy’s New Psychological Space Thriller


Move over, dragons and White Walkers: there’s a new thriller in town. Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s new SyFy show Nightflyers takes viewers to the outer reaches of the universe for a space-themed horror/drama that couldn’t be further from Westeros. Based on the No. 1 best-selling author’s 1980 novella, Nightflyers was adapted as a film in 1987, and is now a series on the SyFy channel.

Written more than a decade before Martin started on his epic Game of Thrones series (which is actually titled A Song of Ice and Fire), the Nightflyers book follows a team of scientists who launch an expedition into space to study a mysterious, alien species. Things quickly turn violent in what Martin himself describes as a “haunted house story on a starship” — or, “Psycho in space.” Here’s what to expect from this buzz-worthy show.

A captivating plot and dynamic characters

Nightflyers reveals that Earth is in trouble, and a starship crew is headed deeper into space than anyone has ventured before, in an attempt to save humanity. A malfunction early in the voyage kills several people, but the remaining crew members quickly realize that there’s something much more sinister than technical issues at play on their ship (and it may prevent them from ever returning to Earth).

The show introduces us to a mysterious and reclusive captain who speaks to his crew through holograms, a volatile telepath, and a genetically-engineered human named Mel. The latter represents the righting of a 30-year wrong for Martin, who regrets that this character, originally written as a black woman named Melantha Jhirl, was whitewashed for the novella (and 1987 movie). Martin has since noted that Jamaican/British actress Jodie Turner-Smith, cast as Mel, embodies his original intention for the character. As he wrote on his blog, “Maybe it took thirty years, but at long last I can say: now that’s Melantha Jhirl.”

Still, the new series takes some creative liberties from the source material, which was necessary to make it longer than a few episodes. After all, everyone in the original novella died. Luckily for at least some of the characters in the SyFy series, the new Nightflyers plot doesn’t kill everyone off — and even leaves room for additional seasons. Based on the interest surrounding the show and the wild success of Thrones, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it continue on for years to come.

Cast and crew

Martin is serving as one of Nightflyers executive producers, while Robert Jaffe, writer and producer of the original film adaptation, produces the series. Andrew McCarthy of Orange is the New Black serves as producer-director. Stars of the new series include Eoin Macken (The Night Shift), Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire), Sam Strike (EastEnders), and Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship). Netflix co-produces Nightflyers, claiming first-run rights outside of the U.S.

How to watch

The highly-anticipated Nightflyers release date is December 2, 2018, on SyFy Network, with the first five episodes showing on consecutive nights through December 6. The remainder of the series will air December 9-13, and SyFy is planning weekend marathons for your binge-watching pleasure. So, tune to the SyFy channel on X1, set your DVR, or stream the series on Xfinity, and get ready for a galactic journey you won’t soon forget.

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