V last season from Spaciousness arrives This Fridayso io9 hooked up to a video chat with writers Ty Frank and Daniel Abraham (who co-authored Spaciousness books like James S.A. Corey) and showrunner Naren Shankar to talk about the past, present and (hopefully?) future of the show.
Cheryl Eddie, io9: If you had to recap season six with one overarching theme, what would it be?
Daniel Abraham: The need for normal people to do good deeds to help us get through. I mean, a lot of this isn’t just about one hero – it’s not just about ending a conflict between two guys getting into a fight on the podium. [It’s about] everyone just gets a little better so that things get better, recognizing the humanity of people, accepting the place of people, giving way to each other, respecting each other – the kind of banal kindness that actually makes society better.
Naren Shankar: I think recognizing the innate humanity in others is really an important part of the season. I try to remember what we wrote on the board [in the writer’s room]… Remember, we always wrote a topic …
Tai Frank: Usually during work every day some topic would look at us. And that was the first year we didn’t do it. So now we just ball like dumbass [laughs]…
io9: Is it because of covid?
Shankar: Yes, we couldn’t physically be in the same place this season. This [press day] in fact, this is the first time in two years that I’m in a room with these guys. We were not able to go to Toronto and participate in the production, as always, with the actors. Even the writer’s room was virtual.
io9: Whose decision is it to make the season only six episodes? Is this also due to reasons related to the coronavirus?
Shankar: It was a decision between Amazon and Alcon Television. I mean, you always agree on how much money you are going to invest in producing a show. And that was the decision. It all came down to filming six episodes. To some extent, this is always negotiation. Could we do 10? Absolutely. Could we make eight? Undoubtedly. I don’t think we could tell the season at any smaller than six.
Abraham: I think if we had 13, we would have problems.
Shankar: Yeah. I mean, sometimes it can work against you – too many episodes can be bad too. So it was kind of presented to us as, “Can we tell this story in six episodes?” and we answered: “Let’s think about it.” We talked about it and came back saying, “Yes, we can do this, but we will have to increase the size of the sixth episode.” It really looks like an episode and a half.
Franc: And it’s not six inexpensive episodes. [Laughs]
io9: They came to you with a six-episode plan before you started planning the season?
Shankar: We talked about it freely, but officially did not return by that time. I think it was also a desire to make sure we could finish it and finish the episodes so we could go back to [the air] a year after we were on vacation. That was part of it too, because the way these loops work on streamers, I think it probably made a difference.
Franc: And the real answer to your question is there is never just one planning session. Planning consists of several stages. So there is always an early plan when Naren, Daniel or I get together and sort of discuss the big picture of what we will be doing next season. So this is kind of the beginning of planning, but at each stage of the path, when new restrictions or new opportunities appear, we must rethink the plan. We need to add more details to it. So yeah, at one point we had a plan, then they said six episodes. Then we had to revise the plan and make a six-part version of this plan.
io9: Were there storylines that you would like to explore more if you had the traditional 10 episodes?
Franc: We actually had a big role in [season three character] Pastor Anna and most [season two and three character] Prax. But when we did a breakdown of the seasons and figured out what we were going to shoot in six episodes, it became clear that we couldn’t do justice to these stories in the amount of time we had. So then we cut them down to cameo, but still got the gist of the story in the cameo. These are two examples, but there are many similar decisions when we realized that we did not have a place to make a large version of this story. So we would shorten it to this little version.
io9: Obviously we won’t get into spoilers, but after watching the entire season itself, there was at least one storyline that left some dangling threads at the end. Some of the characters we might want to return to. Is there a chance that we can reproduce them on another medium?
Abraham: As we always say, there are three more books. There is a lot more. Big world! Anything could have happened.
io9: I’m sure fans will only be saddened by the six episodes, although we should all remember that we almost lost Spaciousness after the third season. Do you think there will be a similar fan movement after the finale to demand more?
Shankar: For more Spaciousness go ahead? Well, I leave it to them. [Laughs] Hey, you know what if we do our job right and it happens? Big.
Abraham: I love working with these guys. I love working with this cast. If the universe saw fit to let me do it again, I would appear.
Shankar: To be honest, it’s so rare to see a show spanning six seasons these days. This is a miracle in itself in this age. I feel like we got tremendous support from Amazon and Alcon to bring the show to the end of Book 6, which, as you know, was always a possibility that this should have been the end of the show because there is a satisfactory conclusion at that point. … The door is open for other things. And if the stars come together, I think you will find many people willing to take part in this.
io9: I’m sure including the fans. In hindsight, do you have a favorite moment that was brought to life as part of Spaciousness series?
Shankar: I keep going back to Julie and Miller… It’s such a beautiful scene.
Franc: My joke semi-serious answer: I just like it when Amos manages to shoot someone or Bobby gets beaten up. I am looking for these opportunities. [Laughs]
Abraham: I can’t tell you mine because this is a Season 6 spoiler. The thing that pleases me the most happens this season.
io9: Well, we’ll really see how Bobby and Amos become best friends this season. You can imagine them as a dream team with their own adventures.
Shankar: And you get one of them on one of the “x-rays.” [after-show shorts]- A small X-ray adventure of Amos-Bobby awaits you. We have five X-rays for episodes one through five. These are great little short figurines that light up individual characters or pairs of characters. They appear at the end of the episode, so if you just stop and click on the X-ray it will take you to that content.
io9: Is this something new this season? How did it come about?
Shankar: Yeah. Amazon wanted them.
Abraham: I think the X-Ray team at Amazon has long wanted to do this, and this is the first time we’ve actually been able to do them. These are really cute little vignettes – I’m very happy with how they turned out.
Franc: We already talked about the idea of doing these little short things, and at that moment we just didn’t have the time or resources to do it. But this year Amazon has provided us with all the resources we need to create them, which is fantastic.
Shankar: And they are close-knit. A philosophical thread runs through them. They relate to storytelling, they reflect and illuminate it in many ways. So I think people will enjoy them.
io9: So there will be a Bobby and Amos episode – what else?
Shankar: The first is about the Drummer and Naomi. The second is Avasarala, the third is Amos and Bobby, the fourth is Clarissa, the fifth is Holden.
io9: What do you think people will take away? Spaciousness overall, and where do you see his legacy in terms of science fiction on television?
Abraham: I’m going to screw it up, but there is a Camus quote that sounds a lot like “humanity admires more than it despises.” And this is what we tried to do with Spaciousnessboth versions of it – the books and the TV series – look at humanity and find it worthy of love, warts and all. With all the violence, prejudice and tribalism to see we’re still pretty awesome looking. We’ve done amazing things. And for all the horror, kindness is still more prevalent. Despite all the tribalism, the tribes continue to grow. If a message comes in, I hope so.
Franc: And his legacy is not something that the people who create it should decide. Now it’s the fans who decide – and, to some extent, the fans who aren’t there yet. Future fans should decide this. So we cannot choose.
Spaciousness Season 6 will premiere on Friday, December 10 on Amazon Prime. We will have much more Spaciousness this week at io9, so stay tuned!
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