The Passage makes its way to TV on Monday, Jan 14 on Fox and fans of the book should know right off the bat things will be a little different. For starters, the series based on Justin Cronin's fan-favorite novels, features some new characters, but showrunner Liz Heldens remain "came to this material as a fan."
"I read the book in 2012, and I just went crazy over it and then I read the sequel and then I went to go read the third book. But Justin hadn't finished writing it yet, so I had to wait. And so when I found out that Fox had the material, I was thrilled and excited. I went bananas. And so here we are," he said at the 2018 Television Critics Association Press Tour.
Season one of the series is just the beginning, and set at Project NOAH.
"And the reason the beginning of the show is different was an effort to give everyone in the show a credible point of view so that the scientists at Project NOAH…there's a pandemic coming. There's a huge emergency. They need this little girl to get the vaccine ready so that you can understand everybody's point of view," Heldens explained. "They're doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. And so…that was an effort to make sure all the characters had nuance and you could understand why everybody was doing what they're doing."
For those expecting a sci-fi extravaganza and turned off by a lack of time-jumps, don't fret.
"We're just slowing down the story a little bit so that you understand that the first season of this show is about the good intentions and bad decisions that lead to the end of the world as we know it," Heldens said.
At TCA, Heldens said she sees the book as a three-season show with Project NOAH, the colony and then the last section. But plans can change.
The Passage TV series kicks off with Amy Bellafonte as a young girl who is key to preventing a disease from wiping out the human race. Brad Wolgast, a federal agent, is tasked with securing her for Project Noah, but the two quickly bond and go on the run. Wolgast becomes a surrogate father to Amy. To nail the central relationship on the series between Mark-Paul Gosselaar's Wolgast and Saniyya Sidney's Amy, the two actors bonded off set.
"We had to bond, and plus I had to connect to Amy. So, when I connected to Amy, I connected to Wolgast, and then I connected to Mark-Paul," Sidney said. "So, when we had our relationship, whenever we were on camera or off camera, it was always something special. It was loud. It was jokes. It was sometimes serious, crying or I just needed someone to hold. And Amy needed Wolgast, and I had needed Mark-Paul."
"I think what helped us with the relationship also while we were shooting, is we get to shoot in a linear fashion. So the scenes that we did first were the scenes where we met. We had the ability to sort of create this relationship as we were shooting," Gosselaar said.
They got so comfortable, Sidney razzed Gosselaar about his Saved By the Bell past, she'd announce a "time out" and then she'd give him a "time in" when "I'm allowed to do things again. We have a I don't know if you can see it, but we have, actually, a pretty good relationship," Gosselaar said at TCA.
"Well, that relationship is what I hooked into in the book. It's what allowed me the way into a genre show, and it's what I think makes the whole show special and so accessible for people who maybe are not genre people. So, yeah, we're gonna serve up a lot of that, for sure," Heldens said.
See the relationship at play in the interview above and on The Passage when it premieres Monday, Jan. 14 at 9 p.m.
The Passage also stars Vincent Piazza, Brianne Howey, Caroline Chikezie, Jamie McShane, Emmanuelle Chriqui, McKinley Belcher III and Henry Ian Cusick.