‘Sphere’ Series Coming to HBO Based on Michael Crichton’s Underwater Sci-Fi Thriller

     August 27, 2020

With Westworld gearing up for a fourth season, HBO has set its eyes on yet another Michael Crichton series adaptation. Before you have a full-on panic attack, no, tragically, it is not Congo. It should be Congo, but it is not Congo. It is Sphere, Crichton’s 1987 sci-fi thriller novel that takes place miles beneath the ocean surface.

Westworld season 3 writer and producer Denise Thé will serve as showrunner on the series. Here’s the official synopsis courtesy of EW, who broke the news:

Sphere plunges us one thousand feet into the ocean, where a group of scientists confronts the surreal, beautiful, and deadly mysteries of the universe, only to find the people closest to us may prove to be the most alien.”

To get a little more specific than that, Sphere follows a team of scientists tasked with studying a massive, mysterious spacecraft discovered beneath the Pacific Ocean. The more they learn about the vessel, perfectly-preserved and apparently 300 years old, the more it becomes clear that it’s tied to an intellect beyond human comprehension.

Sphere was adapted into a film in 1998 with Rain Man director Barry Levinson at the helm. Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson filled out the cast of scientists. It was…a pretty substantial bomb on every level, grossing $74 million worldwide on an $80 million and getting panned by critics. As someone who rented Sphere at least once from Blockbuster…yeah, it tracks.

But Sphere actually has a pretty solid chance as a series. There’s a whole lot of heady ideas in the novel that don’t lend themselves to a two-hour window, but giving them room to breathe across multiple episodes could definitely help. Of course, there’s a lot of heady ideas in Westworld too, and giving that show more seasons just kind’ve turned it into a slog. Time will tell!