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Top 10 Things We Need in His Dark Materials TV Series

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
This new adaptation just HAS to be better than the last one. For this list, we’re looking at all the things we’re excited about in this upcoming BBC/HBO show. Our list includes well-adapted dialogue, let kids be kids, amazing effects, the real ending, epic scope, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Things We Need in His Dark Materials TV Series.

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Top 10 Things We Need in His Dark Materials TV Series

This new adaptation just HAS to be better than the last one. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things We Need in His Dark Materials TV Series.

For this list, we’re looking at all the things we’re excited about in this upcoming BBC/HBO show.

#10: Well-Adapted Dialogue

While Philip Pullman’s novels are marketed for young adults, their level of sophistication is leagues ahead of most “kid lit”. The 2007 movie however was full of cringey dialogue that did a lot more telling than showing, breaking a basic tenet of script writing. In a piece for the A.V. Club, Tasha Robinson wrote that the movie failed by "baldly revealing up front everything that the novel is trying to get you to wonder about and to explore slowly". Fortunately, we know this new adaptation is in better hands, being produced for the BBC with “Skins” and “Shameless” writer Jack Thorne behind it.

#9: Let Kids Be Kids

The series’ young protagonist, Lyra Belacqua, is just 12 years old when the action kicks off. Yet the filmmakers of the 2007 adaptation seem to have avoided levity in their retelling - even though there are several such moments in the books. Some of the best moments in the “Harry Potter” films are the ones between dramatic action scenes when the trio is just goofing off or trying to get through Hogwarts classes. Having time to explore some of that normalcy would do this new adaptation well, and flesh out the setting of the series.

#8: Giving Everything the Time & Attention It Needs

In 2001, the first movie of both the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” franchises were released, setting the standard for fantasy film adaptations. As time has gone on however, it’s become more common to adapt popular literary properties for the small screen instead. Case in point: “Game of Thrones”. This format means that the creators don’t need to rush through their plotlines in just a couple of short hours, and instead have plenty of time to give each character and subplot the attention it deserves. We can’t wait to see how this will pan out in “His Dark Materials”.

#7: Amazing Effects

The quality of our TV production has skyrocketed in the past decade, with more and more impressive results with every passing year. Nowadays many shows feature budgets that can compete with major films. Not to mention, CGI technology has definitely advanced since “The Golden Compass” was released in 2007, so we can expect to see some impressive visual effects used in this new series, which will help bring the story to life in a way that feels modern and believable. This is especially important because daemons make up a huge part of the plot - and for them to be believable, the effects really have to work.

#6: The Real Ending

One of the things that fans were most disappointed with in the 2007 film adaptation was that the creators opted to leave out a crucial part of the book’s ending. If you haven’t read the book, consider this your spoiler alert! The book concludes on a decidedly dark note, with Lyra’s father, Lord Asriel, betraying her trust and killing her friend Roger after separating him from his daemon. The movie omits this crucial detail in favor of ending on a vaguely optimistic note, leaving audiences feeling like Lord Asriel will help them and everything will work out in the end. We’re hopeful that this new adaptation will feature the original ending instead.

#5: Epic Scope

Even before the first season of this show began airing, it was already renewed for a second season. This seems to indicate that we’ll see the second book, “The Subtle Knife”, on screen - something we’ve never gotten before. One thing we know for sure is that the TV format will let us see a larger cast of characters traversing even more ground. We’ll get to grasp the grand scope of the world that Philip Pullman created in this series, which will be much easier to explore in this longer format than it was in the film.

#4: The Religious Undertones of the Books

We get it, putting major criticisms of the Catholic Church into a film intended for a family audience would have been divisive, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the 2007 feature mostly omitted the religious themes of the source material. The thing is though, these themes are central to the narrative of the story, which is why the film ended up feeling somewhat anemic. In this new show, we need to see these theological ideas explored more thoroughly, to do justice to the rich world that Pullman created.

#3: More Complicated Characters

Fantasy characters are often reduced to basic archetypes, falling squarely into one of two camps: the heroes, and the villains. We saw this in the 2007 film. But in reality, the characters of this series are much more complex. Both of Lyra’s parents, Lord Asriel and Madame Coulter, are actually very nuanced in the novels, but fall flat in the on-screen adaptation. We already mentioned how Asriel’s darker deeds were omitted from the movie, and there are many more examples of plotlines like this that can be shown in the new adaptation to flesh out the cast of characters.

#2: Great Casting

One thing we can already be sure of is the fact that “His Dark Materials” is going to have an incredible cast. At the center of it is Dafne Keen playing the central character of Lyra, who you might recognize from her role in 2017’s “Logan”. The enigmatic Lord Asriel will be portrayed by James McAvoy, who’s already familiar with the world of literary adaptations after famously playing Mr. Tumnus. Mrs. Coulter will be played by Ruth Wilson who may not quite be a household name but who you surely know from properties like “The Affair” and “Luther”. Last but not least is the multi-talented Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby.

#1: A Darker Tone

Pullman’s trilogy may be about a 12 year old girl, but it has a dark tone that’s also drawn in many grown up readers. That’s why it felt like there was something missing from the 2007 movie. In trying to make it family friendly, the filmmakers stripped the story of what makes “His Dark Materials” so interesting. “Dark” is there in the title, after all. Neither the BBC or HBO has any qualms about featuring a more sinister tone in their programming, so we can look forward to an ambiance that better fits the original source material.

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