HBO’s “Westworld”: “A dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”

By on August 10, 2015

HBO recently announced that their long-awaited series “Westworld,” which was originally supposed to premiere in 2015, will instead premiere on October 2, 2016, 9pm (ET/PT).

The series is an adaptation of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie Westworld, which you may remember is set in a future pleasure-island-type amusement park where lifelike androids re-create various scenes for paying park guests before a power surge causes all the android robots to malfunction, turning them into literal killing machines.

We’ve been waiting for the latest J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan collaboration since it was first announced back in 2013. The premiere date comes after rumors that the show could be bumped to 2017 due to production delays. HBO bumped the show back after its production was shut down for a few months while Nolan and fellow executive producer Lisa Joy could catch up on scripts for the show.

We thought it also gave us a good opportunity to go back and look at the trailer for the 1973 film of the same name — and a subsequent sequel film and even the short-lived 70s TV show — once again.

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You may have noticed an uptick in what continues to be an ongoing interest in new TV shows and films intermingling human and android characters lately — two recent examples include AMC’s “Humans” has been critically praised while its fanbase has grown, and Ex Machina became one of the most talked-about films of the year for the way it explored big themes in a chillingly intimate way.

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HBO’s “Westworld,” an hour-long drama, is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”

The show appears to boast an excellent cast, mostly known for appearing in feature motion pictures, and topping the list of headliners are Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright.

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Ed Harris is the mysterious robot gunslinger the Man in Black, which sounds fairly similar to the role originally portrayed by Yul Brynner. Hopkins is Dr. Robert Ford, the creative director of Westworld. Evan Rachel Wood (she takes center stage in this teaser trailer) appears to be playing a confused android named Dolores. She appears to be trapped in a nightmare, and is asked whether she’s ever “questioned the nature of reality?” Indeed.

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Thandie Newton is the Westworld madame Maeve Millay, who is described as beautiful and razor-sharp, with a knack for survival. She’s Westworld’s madame who has seen-it-all, a point-of-view that will be challenged. Wright will play a character named Bernard Lowe, who is described as the brilliant and quixotic head of the park’s programming division, who possesses a keen observation of human nature that inspires his work, which is, creating artificial people.

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Other actors announced for the series include Miranda Otto, James Marsden, Sidse Babbett Knudsen, Eion Bailey, Jimmi Simpson, Clifton Collins Jr., Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan and Simon Quarterman.

HBO ordered “Westworld” to series last November. The project hails from J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions (that’s perfect, don’t you think?). Jonathan Nolan serves as an executive producer, writer and director on “Westworld.” Nolan co-wrote and directed the pilot. He’s the creator of the hit CBS TV show “Person of Interest,” and — as the brother of filmmaker Christopher Nolan — we should mention that he also wrote or co-wrote The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar.

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The original 1973 film, Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, and was Crichton’s first directorial feature after having written many screenplays. It was the first film to use digital image processing to pixellate photography to simulate what the android’s were seeing.

It was set in an adult amusement park called Delos, where the apparently-rich attendees who can buy themselves the experience of a lifetime wander through three themed worlds — West World, which recreates the dangerous “Deadwood”-esque Wild West; Medieval World, which is based on daily life in medieval Europe; and Roman World, which re-fabricates early history Pompeii — and we’re not exactly sure yet if all three will be found in HBO’s “Westworld,” or if Abrams’s company will find other worlds to recreate (so far the tease is just showing the Wild West world).

The separate theme parks were populated by ultra-realistic androids — there are 3D-printed sexbots and killbots — who act like characters the visitors might have actually encountered in those bygone eras, and once they begin malfunctioning, and turning against visitors, and that’s when fake reality becomes real reality, humans vs. robots.

The success of the movie spawned a sequel film in 1976, called Futureworld, starring Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, and other than Brynner reprising his role in a cameo appearance in a dream sequence, no other cast members from the original film returned. Original writer-director Crichton was also not involved.

There was also a short-lived 1980 television series, “Beyond Westworld,” which revolved around the security chief of the Delos Corporation having to stop the evil scientist as he planned to use the robots in Delos to try to take over the world. Only five episodes were produced, and only three of them were aired before cancellation.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.