'Beacon 23' explores an interstellar mystery on a deep-space lighthouse (exclusive)

two people star out of a window in a space station, bathed in right light
Still from "Beacon 23." (Image credit: MGM+)

Intergalactic lighthouses offering safe passage to remote corners of the cosmos can be a lifesaver to starship captains lost in the inky abyss, but they can also be the location of some strange activities as seen in MGM+'s upcoming "Beacon 23" series.

Starring Lena Heady ("Game of Thrones," "Dredd") and Stephan James ("Race," "21 Bridges"), this compelling deep space drama premieres on Nov. 12, 2023 with the first two of eight total episodes. 

It's created by executive producer Zak Penn ("Last Action Hero," "Ready Player One") and was adapted from serialized stories by New York Times bestselling author Hugh Howey, whose own "Silo" trilogy was recently transformed into a hit Apple TV+ series starring Rebecca Ferguson and Tim Robbins. 

Related: Upcoming sci-fi TV shows for 2023 & beyond

Promotional art for "Beacon 23." (Image credit: MGM+)

Here's the official synopsis:

"'Beacon 23' takes place in the farthest reaches of the Milky Way and follows Aster (Lena Headey), a government agent, and Halan (Stephan James), a stoic ex-military man, whose fates become entangled after they find themselves trapped together inside one of many Beacons that serve as a lighthouse for intergalactic travelers. Every Beacon is run by one highly trained human and a specialized Artificial Intelligence. Aster mysteriously finds her way to the lonely Beacon-keeper Halan, and a tense battle of wills unfolds. Halan begins to question whether Aster is friend or foe, as her ability to disguise her agenda and motives could make her a formidable opponent."

"Beacon 23" had the good fortune of receiving solid support from Amazon-owned MGM+, which led to the second season being greenlit even before season one arrived, allowing the creative team to film both seasons back-to-back. Showrunner Glen Mazzara ("The Walking Dead") shared thoughts with Space.com on the series' many merits and what sci-fi fans can expect when it arrives this month.

Space.com: How did you become attached to this intriguing Boat Rocker Studios project based on Hugh Howey's collection of stories?

Glen Mazzara: I'm very friendly with Zak Penn, the creator. We were on the Writers Guild Board of Directors for a few years together so we sat next to each other and we’d chat and became friendly. I bumped into him last year and he was talking about the show he was shooting. I was familiar with Hugh Howey's work and had read his novel, "Wool." I was not familiar with "Beacon 23," but I mainly read it, loved it, and then Zak called me a few weeks later and said there was an opportunity and would I be interested in coming onto the show.

Stephan James as Halan in "Beacon 23" (Image credit: MGM+)

Space.com: What interested you most about the original source material?

GM: It's the fact that it's such a personal story about these two broken characters stuck with each other and they have nowhere to go. And there’s this larger mystery swirling around them that I loved. I thought it was an opportunity to tell something fresh and interesting and exciting, so I was very lucky that Zak asked me to join.

Space.com: What type of style and tone were you aiming for with "Beacon 23?" 

GM: I would say that as the show continues, it has a dreamlike quality. There's a lot of a sense of unreality involved. Imagine a sense of things being surreal after being isolated for so long. We're trying to give the audience the same experience that our characters were experiencing. A lot of the show is very grounded and hopefully feels authentic and plausible. As our characters start to question their own mental health in space we sort of want the audience to sympathize and empathize with them because the narrative is shifting in such a surprising way. I guarantee the audience will not be able to figure out where the show is going. I guarantee that.

Stephan James and Lena Headey star in "Beacon 23" (Image credit: MGM+)

Space.com: How did you pull off "Beacon 23's" impressive visual effects?

GM: We had an incredible SFX team and people in house who were supervising that process: Our Post Supervisor Emily Tempest and Tony Meagher and Scott Riopelle. We had thousands of shots so we had to use many different sci-fi vendors. It was a long process and I’m really proud of the in-house team that brought it all together. We went through each single frame and they were just tireless in trying to make sure the show looked as beautiful as possible.

"Beacon 23" debuts on MGM+ on Nov. 12, 2023 at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST, presenting a pair of episodes to kick off the series followed by weekly installments on Sundays.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.