From the chest-bursting monsters of "Alien" to the logical Vulcans of "Star Trek," a new AMC series will examine science fiction and its role in popular culture.
The six-part "AMC Visionaries: James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction" premieres Monday (April 30) at 10 p.m. EDT (as well as 10 p.m. PDT) on AMC.
"The network approached us with this opportunity in 2016, as they were eager to work with James Cameron and he was eager to explore science fiction in a documentary format," said Jeff Cooperman, the show's co-executive producer and showrunner, and Mike Mezaros, co-executive producer, in a joint email to Space.com.
"It was clear from the very first conversation with James that he wasn't just an expert on his own important works, but someone with a very, very deep understanding of the entire genre," they added. "He's self-effacing about it, but the truth is that he knows as much about science fiction as any academic out there, and he's as passionate as the most dedicated fan. So it was obvious that this needed to be James Cameron's story of science fiction — his take, his perspective — and not just a simple survey of the subject without a strong point of view." ['Alien' Horror: 9 Terrifying Xenomorph Incarnations]
The 6 hours of content delves not only into Cameron's work — "Aliens" and the "Terminator" and "Avatar" series among them — but also famous works from directors and filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro. The series also examines the roots of science fiction, including novels from H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and the older movies of the 1950s. And, yes, the blockbuster "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" franchises will be mentioned, too.
Viewers can also expect to hear about the rise of science fiction and the storytelling techniques behind blockbuster movies, Cooperman and Mezaros said, and they also talk to the people in the films about their experiences with science fiction in general. Some stories shared will include how Zoe Saldana — who plays Uhura in the new "Star Trek" movies — met Nichelle Nichols, her predecessor in the original "Star Trek" of 1966-1969, and how del Toro cowered in fear under his seat when he watched the first "Alien."
"This series is really a landmark event in the history of the genre," the duo added. "Never before have the creators of so many groundbreaking science fiction works gathered together as they have in this six-part television series. Science fiction has become the white-hot center of popular culture, and this series explores its roots, its visions, and our fascination with its ideas. In each episode, James uses a variety of interviews, conversations and stunning visuals to take us on a journey of discovery and exploration, helping us to understand where science fiction's ideas came from — and where they might be taking us."
"AMC Visionaries: James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction" premieres Monday (April 30) on AMC at 10 p.m. EDT/9 p.m. CDT. A companion book is available on Amazon.com (opens in new tab). Visit Space.com Monday for the first of a series of features inspired by the series.