EXCLUSIVE: AMC is breaking new ground with Pantheon, a primetime animated drama series. The network is making a big bet on the hourlong project from Turn creator/executive producer Craig Silverstein and AMC Studios, with an order for two eight-episode seasons.
This marks back-to-back two-season pickups for AMC, which in October gave its first ever two-season order to 61st Street, a close-ended drama starring Courtney B. Vance. While 61st Street is designed for a limited run, Pantheon is envisioned as an ongoing series. It extends AMC’s streak of experimentation with genre and format. The network’s three most recent new series orders, made by Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, consist of a show alternating between single-camera realism and multi-camera comedy (Kevin Can F*** Himself, headlined by Annie Murphy), a two-season close-ended drama (61st Street) and animated drama (Pantheon).
Additionally, AMC just premiered Jason Segel’s anthology series Dispatches from Elsewhere, which features season-long story arcs, and is set to debut its first episodic anthology, Soulmates, while its AMC Network sibling Sundance won an Emmy for shortform series State of the Union starring Chris O’Dowd and Rosamund Pike.
61st Street, Kevin Can F*** Himself, Pantheon and Dispatches from Everywherewere all developed under AMC’s “scripts-to-series” model, which employs the opening of a writers room to develop and produce multiple scripts for a potential series — which, in success, leads to a straight-to-series order.
Pantheon, based on a series of short stories by Ken Liu about Uploaded Intelligence, or human consciousness uploaded to the cloud., was commissioned to open a writers room in summer 2018 by David Madden then-President of Programming for the AMC Entertainment Networks Group and AMC Studios. Because of Pantheon’s unique nature, the network additionally ordered a five-minute animated presentation, and the project took longer to get fully formed. Pantheon‘s visual style is described as a fresh take on graphic realism done in a traditional 2D way, using modern tools.
Silverstein, in his return to AMC after developing and executive producing the network’s period drama Turn: Washington’s Spies, created Pantheon and will serve as executive producer and showrunner. Liu will serve as a consulting producer. The Emmy-winning independent animation production company Titmouse is on board to do the animation for AMC Studios.
In its first season, Pantheon focuses on Maddie, a bullied teen who receives mysterious help from someone online. The stranger soon is revealed to be her recently deceased father, David, whose consciousness has been uploaded to the cloud following an experimental destructive brain scan. David is the first of a new kind of being: an “Uploaded Intelligence” or “UI,” but he will not be the last, as a global conspiracy unfolds that threatens to trigger a new kind of world war.
“Pantheon is an entertaining and provocative series about personal relationships and what happens to them when the boundary of life is removed from the human condition,” said Barnett. “And we’re looking to push other boundaries here too, in making an animated drama that aims to be every bit as moving, immersive and visceral as any premium, live-action scripted series. We are fortunate to have incredible source material from Ken Liu, one of the most celebrated science fiction writers at work today, and we are delighted to once again be working with Craig Silverstein. Both of these writers know how to weave the intimate and the epic into a powerful tale.”
Netflix and A+E Studios recently ventured into the animated drama field with The Liberator, a four-part animated World War II drama series, which was produced in Trioscope, a hybrid animation technology that combines CGI with live-action performance.