How Closely Will FX’s ‘The Strain’ Follow the Book Trilogy?

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With The Strain premiering this Sunday night, fans of the novels from which the series is based can’t help but ask how closely the show will follow the books. We’ve seen it with Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, just to name the most popular two, but these days it seems that every other television show is based on a book series of some sort.

The Strain will be taking the similar approach as The Walking Dead. They will not follow the books exactly, so that book readers can still be taken for a ride as well. However, they will still hit on the major points that move the plot along in the novels.

When asked that very question, executive producer Carlton Cuse had this to offer:

“Book one is season one, yes. We basically follow the narrative of the first book in the first season. The plan is that the show will run somewhere between three and five seasons, and as we work out the mythology and the storytelling for season two we’ll have a better idea of exactly how long our journey is going to be. But it won’t be more than five seasons, we’re definitely writing to an endpoint, and we’re following the path as established in Guillermo and Chuck’s novels. But obviously there’s a lot that’s also going to be added. The television show is its own experience, and there are new characters and new situations, different dramatic developments, so the show and the book can each be separately enjoyed.

And I think that the goal is not to literally translate the book into a television show. You want to take the book as a source of inspiration and then make the best possible television show that you can make. And I think Guillermo, Chuck, myself, all of us involved have basically said, okay, here’s the book, now how do we take the best stuff in here and then use that as elements and then make the best TV show we can. But we view the TV show as its own creation.”

He continued:

“I believe that you render a version of the story when you read a book in a way that is unique and special to each person who reads it. And I think the experience of reading those books is going to be always separate from what the show’s going to be like. I think we basically, my approach with the series was let’s take the best of what was in the books and let’s figure out how we can translate that into the scripted form and make that into the best version of a TV series. And in many cases it was also, okay, here’s an idea that’s in this book that’s really great, how do we actually embellish this, how do we take this and make this into even more of a story? “

The book and show’s co-creator, Guillermo del Toro, also weighed in on how closely the show would fall in line with the books.

“It was very clear from the start that we had the three books to plunder, but we also had the chance of inventing. We talked about milestones, that we want the milestones and the characters that are in the book to be hit, but with that it became very malleable. Carlton decided, I think very wisely in retrospect, it made perfect sense as a game plan to, for example, leave the origins of The Master, which we opened book one with for a second season, if we go that way, and, for example, bringing a set piece from book two to bookend the story of one character on season one. So, it’s a very elastic relationship that the series has with the book, but by that same token it’s very respectful and mindful of the things that will not alienate someone that likes the books. It should feel as seamless. And I think the decisions we have to understand when Carlton is guiding us through this new medium for the story, to trust and know that his decisions are guided by huge experience and a prestigious career.

Carlton had his fair share of praises for FX as well, for allowing he and del Toro to take creative liberties and tell the story they both wanted to tell, which unfortunately isn’t always the case with television networks.

“FX has been fantastic. And I will say that this show really represents my and Guillermo’s version of the story. It’s really unadulterated. I mean, yes, sure, we can’t drop F-bombs, but that’s about it. We really were able to put our unadulterated version of the story on screen, and FX has been enormously supportive, and I think very aware when you’re competing with films and also with pay cable, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re doing an adulterated version of the story. And that was something that we were very conscious of and concerned about, and John Landgraf and his team were immensely supportive and really gave us the latitude to tell the story the way we wanted to. And so it’s got some pretty extreme moments, but I think that that also is kind of what gives the show its octane. “

The Strain premieres July 13th at 10pm on FX.

Photo Credit: FX Networks


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