The internet was abuzz when, on July 13th, 2018, word came that HBO had won the bidding war to become home to Joss Whedon's next sci-fi series The Nevers. The announcement immediately started people asking: what are the unusual abilities these characters will have, will the series be more mature in nature ('cause, HBO), what is the greater overarching story going to be and will we see any Whedonverse alumni? So many questions.
But then my thinking took a turn to what I would like to see in the series, putting aside whatever Joss has planned (which is undoubtedly amazing.) These are things that this particular fan has on his wish list for The Nevers. Things that, if Joss were to include in his show, might very well compel me to construct a shrine in his likeness.
Are you ready to dive in? Let's go!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer will live on as one of the most iconic and influential television series ever made. Many showrunners working today have cited Joss and Buffy in particular as inspirations for their work. And while I continue to enjoy the brilliance that is Buffy, Angel and Firefly, I am hoping for a touch more sophistication with The Nevers. It's been ten years since Joss has worked in television and a lot has changed in the interim, including the way that stories are told on television. This is after all an HBO production...set in the Victorian era....in a post Game of Thrones world. People have come to expect a certain style of storytelling from an HBO epic, one that is more adult and sophisticated from, say, a WB/UPN series. So here's hoping that The Nevers will have high stakes (higher stakes than the apocalypse?!) and refined story lines with mature subject matter to boot!
I am not one of these fans that wants to see every actor that Joss has ever worked with in every future Whedon project. Just, no. The actors pool is filled with many talented actors just waiting for their big break. Where would we be had Joss not looked past his, at the time, limited pool of actors when casting for Angel and Firefly? We wouldn't have Amy Acker, Summer Glau, Fran Kranz and for some, Nathan Fillion. So, generally speaking, let's not frequent the well-used Whedonverse box of actors when casting for new Whedon shows. Unless, of course, we're talking about the likes of one Anthony Stewart Head - one of the greatest actors of our time. Used sparingly, a Whedonverse alumnus/alumna can be the perfect fit for any new Whedon project.
We already know that the wildly talented Olivia Williams (Dollhouse) has been cast in the series as Lavinia Bidlow, wealthy spinster and champion of The Touched. Fantastic casting! Amazing casting! Now add Anthony Stewart Head into the mix and watch our minds blow. These two powerhouse actors on screen together would be lethal.
Imagine his character as a former lover or long lost friend of Lavinia's who suddenly reappears for reasons unknown, but would unfold over the course of the series. Of course, we the viewers would be shown hints of his backstory and intentions with every episode. What does he want from Lavinia now? Is he a friend or foe?
Please, Joss. Please put these two on screen together. Any role, really, will do; he's Anthony Stewart Head! Like Olivia, he's brilliant!
Steampunk elements will almost certainly come into play (and judging by this set picture, steampunk is indeed in full effect) in a series that's described as a sci-fi epic set in Victorian England.
As any astute viewer of Joss' work will know, he can be quite inventive with the weaponry and gadgetry that he conceives of for his characters. Think of the Slayer Scythe or the body swapping device used on Buffy and Faith. Or how about Angel's double sleeved stake thingamajig or the knife that the Mayor gifted Faith.
I'm hoping Joss has come up with some new and exciting gadgets for his characters to have fun with. With Joss' brain and a Victorian Steampunk setting, we could be in for a treat!
A cyborg is a hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by way of mechanical elements built into the body; a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts.
If you watched Netflix's amazing 2019 breakout series LOVE DEATH & ROBOTS, then you might remember the steampunk inspired episode GOOD HUNTING. Long story short, the character of Yan, a shape-shifting huli jing, gets turned into a cyborg for reasons you'll have to watch to find out.
The Nevers is an excellent series to feature cyborgs. Why? Well, steampunk is often set in an alternative history of the 19th century British Victorian era and features retro-futuristic inventions. Inventions you say? Isn't there a character in The Nevers who "has genius for invention"? Hmmm...
Imagine these scenarios being played out in The Nevers. In my first scenario, we have a recurring character (a Touched) who's been badly injured. Maybe they've been attacked by a mob of angry bigoted Victorians or they've just gone head to head with a fellow Touched (not all are necessarily good!) and they’ve suffered severe injuries. As a result, they need, say, their arm amputated. Enter Ann Skelly's character Penance Adair – good friend to Amalia and a gifted innovator. She comes to the aid of this poor character, constructing for them a mechanical arm; one stronger and with more dexterity than her biological arm.
The second scenario plays out somewhere around episode five and in a more emotional manner. After we've had time to truly invest in these characters and we believe that they're all human, a twist occurs.
The scene begins. A long tracking shot following one of our main characters as they make their way home. Soft fade to them approaching the front of their house. Soft fade to them making their way through a dimly lit hallway to the bathroom. They stop, staring somberly at themselves in the mirror.
Their hand comes up and as they reach for their face, they peel it away to reveal their mechanical inner workings. Hard fade to black. Come on! That would be amazing! We're in the world of steampunk, so let's really run wild with it.
When done well, time travel is one of the most exciting plot devices used in any storytelling medium. I'm a bit of a history buff and a futurist, so I always get a kick out of seeing the past and conceivable future featured in my shows. The idea of being dropped into an era vastly different from one's own really intrigues me.
So imagine the fun we could have watching a character from the days of drays and bustles being dropped into the the distant future or far past. How would they feel and react to the drastic change in technology, architecture, fashion - even the way that people interact with one another. We'd get to watch them as they try to navigate this new, almost alien world, watching the shock and awe on their face as they encounter things that they never could have conceived of or only ever read about in books.
Or perhaps they get a glimpse into the future that will be should The Touched not succeed at their mission. Of course, at this point it's no longer time travel but rather precognition, but it's in the same family and equally as exciting!
And because it's me, I've already envisaged a scenario that could play out in an episode.
Imagine one of The Touched, let's say Amalia, suddenly coming upon the ability - not to time travel (at least, not at first), but to see into the future. I envision her standing atop a hill, fabric blowing in the wind, wearing an expression of both fear and purpose on her face. To her right is the river Thames and the city of London, in front of her is an expansive field. She's oblivious to both because all she sees is a future London, say 2021. She's dumbfounded by the sight before her - not just because it's a futuristic London, but because it's a future London in near ruins! A result of The Touched failing to stop whatever big bad was a threat back in 1899.
It's fun to imagine the stories that Joss could come up with using these tried and tested plot devices. And hopefully he will, if for no other reason than just to satisfy my wishes.
And lastly, but in no way least, what I need to see in The Nevers is...
That's right! I want Her Royal Majesty to have a recurring role in The Nevers. Forget Jack the Ripper. Give me Alexandrina Victoria: the Queen of The United Kingdom and Ireland. Is this series not meant to be epic? It is? Great, because the power she wielded in her little pinkie alone.... Outside of superpowers, you don't get much more majestic than British Royalty!
Alexandrina was Queen from 1837 to 1901 when she died. The Nevers is said to be set in 1899. So if he wanted, Joss could write Queen Victoria into his story.
Whether she's stealing the abilities of The Touched for herself (though that's a bit on the nose), working to keep them safe because she see's the value in these extraordinary individuals, is one of The Touched herself or is systematically having them killed off so as to assure that she's the only one with any true power to wield, doesn't matter to me. When you add Royalty to your story, you automatically add gravity to it. Not to mention the historical legitimacy it will give the show.
There's still a lot of unknowns about this series - and that's great! In this world of teasers for teasers and trailers being released nearly a year ahead of a films theatrical release, I appreciate not knowing every tiny plot detail and character description for this series. Keep your cards close to the vest. That way when we finally get to watch The Nevers, everything will impact us that much more.
So there's my wish-list for the series. Share some of yours with me. Have I already listed one of yours? Let me know in the comments below.