New Details on Showtime Halo Series

Banner for new Halo series. Photo credit to Halo Waypoint.

Banner for new Halo series. Photo credit to Halo Waypoint.

Nicholas Silva, Layout Editor

On June 28, 2018, SHOWTIME announced that it had formed a partnership with Microsoft, 343 Industries, and Amblin Television to produce a 10 episode series set in the Halo universe. The series’ plot is yet to be discovered, however, it is showing immense promise.

At the helm of the series will be Kyle Killian (NBC’s Awake) and Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Eagle-eyed readers, might have noticed that Amblin Television is included in the project. Yes, that means that the company’s founder, and the cinematic legend Steven Spielberg, will be involved. While not all of his works are absolute masterpieces (AI: Artificial Intelligence, for instance), it is certainly comforting to know that such an important project is in capable hands.

Although the plot is unconfirmed SHOWTIME’s president, David Nevins, and their programming head, Gary Levine, teased that, contrary to early theories, Master Chief will play a critical role in the series. Master Chief is the alien-blasting figurehead of Halo, and the player character of most Halo videogames. This announcement contradicts previous fan theories suggesting that Master Chief would only have a guest role at most, based on the precedent set by the last Halo TV show -“Halo Nightfall”- which followed a group of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Of course, this is only a rumor, and could be the development staff toying with fans, and should not be considered concrete at this point. However, if this is the case, it is most likely because the writers want to try to ground the series with what is known, in order to explore what is yet to be learned about the storyline set forth by the epic franchise.

An issue presented by this possibility is the identity of Master Chief. Nevins and Levine also said that who the Chief is beneath the helmet will be a major plot element of the series should he actually be front and center. While this may not seem problematic from the start, if one steps back and ponders the question Who is Master Chief? the problem becomes evident. Master Chief is the player. The whole point of how the iconic character was introduced, the reason why his helmet never comes off despite all of his hardships, is because the game designers wanted to create the illusion that the gamer’s face is that of Master chief. Below the mjolnir armor, the legend is not just a random series of ones and zeros, but the digital embodiment of the ideas that the person behind the controller is presenting. If the TV writers decide to give Chief a face, they sever this unique connection that Halo players have with the game. Halo 5 already did that enough.

In a statement on the untitled show, known only as “Halo”, Kiki Wolfman of 343 Industries said, “as we think about what it means to bring videogame franchises to movie or TV – the biggest challenge can often be finding the right balance between moments fans have already experienced and moments that have yet to be experienced through a different medium, perspective, or creative lens.” This is crucially important. Especially if Master Chief is being brought into the fray, this TV show cannot simply rely on a pre-explored storyline. If Halo rehashes the events of one of the games, or even one of the books in the expanded universe, then it has an immediate strike against it. Fans want new, quality material. They want an innovative story, a blend of action and adventure, and an authentic Halo experience. It shouldn’t be terribly hard for the writers, but regardless, as it is with any franchise, it would be much easier to throw a creativity-blocking wrench into the storyline, causing irreparable damage, and snuffing out any hope for future endeavors.

Whether or not Master Chief is front and center, whether or not the story is new, hope still remains that this can be a good show. It has to, not only for its own sake, but for that of the franchise, and more importantly, to justify the commitment and interest that players everywhere have poured into the games.