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The Alien TV show will take place before Ripley

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Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley is behind the upcoming series

FX chairman announcing the series in 2020.
Screenshot: Disney

FX’s upcoming TV series based on the Alien films will be set on Earth “70-odd years from now” which is before Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character in the franchise’s timeline, FX chairman John Landgraf tells The Hollywood Reporter.

The show is being headed up by Noah Hawley, who previously won acclaim for his Fargo TV series inspired by the Coen brothers movie of the same name. Filming for the Alien TV show is due to take place after season five of Fargo, which will be filmed “this winter.”

Landgraf previously confirmed that the Alien TV show would be set on Earth when the project was announced in late 2020. But knowing the show’s time period means we can have some fun speculating about how it might tie into the rest of the franchise.

Being set in the 2090s means the that show could overlap with the events of 2012’s Prometheus, which served as a prequel to the original Alien. The events of Prometheus kick off in 2089 when protagonists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map in Scotland from an ancient civilization. The rest of the film then takes place on a distant moon in 2093, as humanity attempts to make contact with its forerunners.

But Landgraf also says the Alien TV show won’t feature any returning characters from the existing films. “Ripley won’t be a part of it, and neither will any other characters — other than the alien itself,” Landgraf says. So Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley won’t make an appearance (Xenopedia informs me the character was born in 2092) but does this also rule out a return from Michael Fassbender, who’s already appeared in the Alien prequels as two different android characters? Who’s to say.

Hawley also teased more details for the series in a recent interview with Esquire. “In the [Alien] movies, we have this Weyland-Yutani Corporation, which is clearly also developing artificial intelligence — but what if there are other companies trying to look at immortality in a different way, with cyborg enhancements or transhuman downloads? Which of those technologies is going to win?” he says. “I describe that as Edison versus Westinghouse versus Tesla. Someone’s going to monopolize electricity. We just don’t know which one it is.”

It all sounds very promising, and I’m letting myself get cautiously optimistic given Hawley’s work on Fargo, and the good job FX has done with its What we do in the Shadow TV adaptation. The Alien TV series currently doesn’t have an official air date.