There are slight spoilers from the book and the pilot below. Read with caution.
While flipping around through amazon prime video, I saw Richard Madden’s wonderful face. As it’s been a while since I’ve seen any of his stuff (he was Robb in the Game of Thrones series, also Ashley in Sirens), I decided to click on this new show, Oasis. Imagine my surprise when I see that it’s actually based off of The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber! I read and reviewed that back in 2015 and really, really enjoyed it! I thought it was such an interesting metaphysical/sci-fi story, I still remember and think about it to this day.
So, I was really intrigued to see how they managed to translate the book to tv. Honestly, most of the time, I’m wary about the transition between mediums. It’s so hard to beat a person’s own imagination when reading, to fill out the world visually while keeping true to the story’s tone, let alone to actually keep the characters and connections true to origin. It barely works out for me. It’s one of the big reasons I hate/never watch the x-men films. Being a huge fan of the comics, to see things done in a way that doesn’t jive with me (hello? Darwin DYING???), I can’t. Yet, there are instances of where a movie will get it perfectly right. The Road is one instance.
Sadly, the Oasis pilot episode didn’t do it for me for one big reason: they changed an important part of the narrative. I understand why, but it is still disappointing. In the novel, when Peter leaves the world, his wife is alive and well. She is onboard with him leaving for Oasis. The world on Earth is… okay. Not great, not horrible. Just normal Earth like it is now. In the show, Peter’s wife is dead. He leaves for Oasis in response to her death (and to help his church). As a result, the Earth is already in a downward spiral when he leaves. This destroys one of the biggest sources of… uncomfortablity and anxiety in the book. One of the main reasons Peter has for wanting to return to Earth.
So, why kill the wife? Why get rid of this side story that was so important in the book? Apart from cutting the cast and set locations down, the only reason I can think of is something that happens later in the book — an affair between Peter and Grainger that takes place towards the end of the novel. As there is no Grainger in the show, I’m assuming it’s going to build towards Peter and Sara. Easiest way to keep Peter as a non-scumbag and keep romance in the show, simply kill the wife.
With the death of the wife, I seriously wonder where the drama is going to come from. Will they try to build it up between the suspicious activities on Oasis? Will the aliens be the bad guys? Where will the connection to Earth come from?
On its own as simply a space tv show, Oasis was a pretty interesting pilot. It looked very pretty, but didn’t really seem to bring anything new or innovative to the table. It’s definitely no The Expanse. As a show based off of The Book of Strange New Things, it simply falls flat. If it gets picked up, I’ll watch the next few episodes to see how it goes, but I won’t hold my breath on it being amazing.