Since it was first published in 1976 by author Walter Tevis, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” has always been a cautionary sci-fi tale about Earth’s dwindling resources and humanity’s distraction by media and vice. This is true of the 1976 Nicolas Roeg feature film adaptation starring David Bowie, and also of the new Showtime series which expands on the original story of the alien who comes to Earth in search of water for his dying planet. In the original narrative, Thomas Joseph Newton is from the planet Anthea and uses his advanced technology to create several inventions making him the richest man on Earth. The new series, created by showrunner and co-executive producer Alex Kurtzman (“Star Trek: Discovery”) and co-executive producer and writer Jenny Lumet (“Clarice”), take us on a similar journey.
This time, K. Faraday (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is the Anthean visitor in search of Newton (Bill Nighy) and is reluctantly aided by former scientist Justin Falls (Naomie Harris) and legal analyst Hatch Flood (Rob Delaney). The series serves as a pseudo-sequel to Roeg’s film, taking us on an emotional journey that tips its hat to Tevis while sprinkling Ziggy Stardust glitter along the way.
Although the press was only provided with the first four episodes to review, I can confirm that every episode shares a title with a David Bowie song. The premiere, “Hallo Spaceboy,” begins with a flash-forward to a confident, commanding K. Faraday (Ejiofor). He is a successful inventor and orator who explains to his adoring fans that no, he is not from this planet, and yes, he has a story to tell.