This starts the third version of Snowpiercer. Original it was a French graphic novel that was published in the early 80s. ‘Parasite’ Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho adapted that into the 2013 Chris Evans film and now it comes to television from creators Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Graeme Manson (Orphan Black).
The set-up for the show is the same as the film. In the near future humanity has destroyed the worlds ecosystem and in an attempt to correct it have created a new ice age. A mysterious philanthropist named Mister Wilford has created a massive Arc Train, a thousand and one carriages long, to rescue the rich and famous. As the train is pulling away is swamped by regular people just trying to survive. People are fighting and killing just for a chance to be on the train.
The story jumps forward nearly seven years and a class system has developed on the train. Royalty live at the from of the train, the people who invaded the train live in the back and are called Tailies, and the second and third classs live in between. The majority of the people on the train where rich enough to afford a tick or managed to buy their way into a job on the train. The whole thing is overseen by two train announcers played Jennifer Connelly and Alison Wright.
The Tailies have had enough. They get very little food and no children have been born for five years. They are plotting a revolution and are ready to fight their way through train to improve their life. An attack is planned to happen when food is delivered but as it is about to go down there is a announce that the authorities on the train needs someone
This is where the story swerves away from the film. The authorities are looking for Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs), the last homicide detective. There has been a murder on the train and they need it solved. The murder is identical to one that occurred a few years ago for which someone has been tried and frozen/imprisonedand the only witness is a former love interest of Layton.
Diggs plays the fish out of water detective very well. After years of eating unrecognisable food he is given soup and toast and you can see the delight on his face. He shows amazement at the different carriages but struggles with how society has changed and has his eyes opened to how people are now living.
Inserting the murder storyline is what elevates the show from the film. There is now a mystery to bring you back each week. The film played out like a computer game where each carriage was a level and they got progressively harder as you went on. The show still has that but can now offer so much more.
There is also a mystery about who is in control of the train. We are told it is Mr Wilford but we never meet him and a reveal at the end brings this into question.
Rather than just remake the film, but still having it recognisable, the creators added to this adaptation to give the storytelling more freedom and mystery.
A promising departure.