What is it with Ridley Scott and androids?
He’s directed and/or produced five high-profile films that prominently featured artificial life forms — “Aliens,” “Alien Covenant,” “Prometheus,” “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner: 2049.” And each of those films featured distinctive android characters.
He’ll continue that trend in the forthcoming TV series “Blade Runner: Black Lotus,” and the four-time Oscar nominee has said he’d still like to make a third “Alien” prequel.
But first … there are freaky androids in the new HBO Max series “Raised by Wolves,” which starts streaming Thursday. They have no connection to the faux humans in “Alien” or “Blade Runner” — except that Scott is onboard as an executive producer, and he directed the first two (of 10) episodes.
“Ridley has been working with these sorts of themes for a good long time now,” said “Raised by Wolves” creator/writer/executive producer Aaron Guzikowski. “So I think there’s a thematic connection — perhaps not a direct connection in terms of the mythology.”
However, he said, Scott was “intimately involved in the entire production, so there was a lot of sort of exchange of DNA between a lot of the mythologies that Ridley has established in the past and this new story.”
“Raised by Wolves” begins with two androids landing on a remote planet with a cargo of human embryos. Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubaker Salim) give “birth” to and raise the human children, far from what remains of Earth, which we soon learn is a blasted hell. The androids are programmed to be militantly atheistic, because religious zealots are responsible for the Earth’s destruction.
Let’s just say that things don’t go well. One of the children, Campion (Winta McGrath), who narrates, tells viewers he loves his “parents” but adds, “All the bad stuff that happened wasn’t their fault.”
No spoilers here, but a lot of really bad stuff happens. There are still some other humans out there, and they don’t like the idea of androids raising children. “Raised by Wolves” is violent, bloody, terrifying and weirdly off-putting and engaging at the same time — sort of like the “Alien” prequels and “Blade Runner.” Which was a coincidence, at least until Scott and his production company got involved.
Guzikowski said the “big spark” behind the series was “the idea of the androids,” combined with becoming a father and seeing “technology kind of encroaching” on his children “for better or for worse.” He wrote the script on spec and shopped it to various production companies until it landed at Scott Free.
“Then Ridley himself read the script and he responded to it,” Guzikowski said. “And, apparently, soon after he had read it, he just started drawing pictures, storyboarding.”
That was “beyond exciting” for Guzikowski. “Before I was even interested in making movies or TV or anything, I was obsessed with the stories that Ridley was telling. So it is a dream. It’s been great. And he hasn’t disappointed in terms of just his generosity, in terms of just being a great mentor.”
(Guzikowski is 46; Scott is 82.)
According to David W. Zucker, the president of Scott Free Productions, Scott shared his drawings with Guzikowski when they first met “and then before we knew it, the two of them were drawing right next to each other and evolving their ideas.”
And that resulted in perhaps the strongest parallel with Scott’s other work involving androids. Guzikowski acknowledged “sort of a continuity” with “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” but “transmogrifying these ideas into things people haven’t necessarily seen yet. … But, yeah, I think it has the DNA of Ridley’s previous work.”
So, yeah, violence, blood, weirdness and androids.
The first three episodes of “Raised by Wolves” start streaming Thursday on HBO Max. Episodes 4-10 will become available one at a time on subsequent Thursdays.