Can Another 70s Science Fiction Work Be Successfully Updated?

Tomorrow night HBO will premiere Westworld, a series based on the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton.  That film was set in an amusement park for adults populated by robots (the Westworld of the title was just one part of the park).  While the film did spawn a sequel and short-lived television series, it did not dive into issues around the use of androids but was a technology-gone-wrong tale.  The series has the potential to do both of those things and perhaps more.

The television program has all the elements that suggest a quality production.  The cast is noteworthy and includes Sir Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood and Ed Harris.  HBO has a reputation for sprawling storytelling of a high caliber (its Game of Thrones recently became the show with the most Emmy awards), and reports are that the network has invested heavily in the production. was developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and Nolan directs the first episode.  He has co-written many successful movies with his brother Christopher Nolan, and created the television program Person of Interest, which recently ended a five season run examining the implications of a pervasive surveillance entity acting within modern society.  J.J. Abrams is credited as an executive producer, though it is unclear how much of a hand he has had in the show given his heavy workload that includes overseeing the Star Trek and Star Wars movies.

2015 may have been a big year for robots in popular culture, but if Westworld turns out to have the goods then 2016 could be too.  And maybe it will join Battlestar Galactica as a work from the 70s that was updated and better the second time around.


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