As with the rest of the internet, we have some thoughts and feelings on the recently announced Eisenhorn TV Show. Details are understandably scant right now which means it’s time to get aboard the speculation train. CHOO CHOO! After doing some thinking that may or may not have involved a bottle of wine and my ancient copy of The Eisenhorn Omnibus, I have a few reasons why this is great news and a few reasons why it may not be great news.
Get Hype for an Eisenhorn TV Show Because…
WH40k is the richest sci-fi universe around
Holy cow is the WH40k universe diverse and all-encompassing. You can have a planet that is still in the agrarian state with literal horse lords being attacked by high tech space communists and that is all canon. The possibilities for planets and settings is endless. More importantly, since the factions are all so very interesting and complex, there’s plenty going on to sustain an entire TV series.
Not to mention WH40k is still kind of niche nerd stuff. It’s not like Star Wars or Game of Thrones where it’s so pervasive everyone has heard of it. Even people who have never seen a Star Wars movie know who Yoda is, and my own mother knows that some dude named Jon Snow knows nothing. It’s high time people learned about the God Emperor, because nothing can top this universe, not even my beloved Star Trek. Fight me.
Eisenhorn’s story is amazing
Pick an Eisenhorn story, any Eisenhorn story, and I’ll bet you it’s worthy of a TV show. From full-length novels that would make great seasons, to short stories that would make good “monster of the week” episodes, Eisenhorn’s history is excellent. All the material is already there, and it’s such a fantastic primer for the aforementioned rich world of 40k.
Did I mention his crew is amazing? Godwin Fischig, Medea Betancore, Alizabeth Bequin, Harlon Nayle… the man has a plethora of badass companions that all have their own complex lives worthy of exploration in a TV series. Also I demand (because I can make such demands, natch) that Jason Isaacs be cast as Eisenhorn because look at this and tell me he isn’t Gregor Eisenhorn. The disdain in his eye, the innate superiority, the man is perfect for it.
Warhammer 40,000 deserves its day in the sun
I’ve often argued that the patron saint of WH40k is Nurgle because once you discover and fall in love with the universe, you immediately want to get your friends into it. And then they fall in love with it (or not because they don’t recognize quality when they see it, no judgment) and spread it to their friends and slowly but surely you create your own little army of fans. The books have great action, great dialogue, and fantastic characters.
You want strong females? WH40k’s got ’em in droves. You want mystery and intrigue? It’s got ya, fam. Complex politics? STRAP YOURSELF IN. Best of all, because it takes place in the 41st millennium, every sci-fi show that you like is canon. Star Trek? Canon. Battlestar Galactica? Sure! Firefly? It’s been so many millennia, Captain Tightpants most assuredly walked the stars before the Long Night.
Get Nervous for an Eisenhorn TV Show Because…
The world of Warhammer 40,000 is super complicated
I know it’s a tired joke in the meme world, but trying to explain WH40k to people is, at the bare minimum, a 40-minute conversation. Most of which will be spent with you breathlessly explaining it’s hard to say who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Is the Imperium bad? You betcha. Is Chaos so very much worse? YES. But that’s hard to grasp. I have very real concern that a TV show might have the desire to turn Eisenhorn into a Jack Ryan-esque character fighting the corruption of the evil dictatorship that is the Imperium. Or that there will be a point in which the show will ask “Is Chaos really that bad?”
Not to mention any other number of over-simplifications that could be made in the name of “This is just easier.” The world is rich and complex and part of the fun is wading through the murky waters and learning about this stuff as you go. Why are these one dudes all claiming to be Alpharius? Oh. That’s why.
TV shows and movies have a history of disrespecting the source material
Stop me when this lament sounds familiar: Man, they just made a show/movie of <insert great book here> and they completely changed it! World War Z is a great example of a phenomenal book whose movie was so tangentially related to the book it was laughable. The Rook TV show ripped my heart out of my chest by immediately casting aside the intricate mystery to make it something that’s, well, it’s not the book.
How easy would it be to turn Alizabeth Bequin into some Caitlin Snow, running around in skirts and heels constantly exasperated at Eisenhorn’s antics? Or to alter the rules of pariahs so that she and Eisenhorn really can be together once and for all? I mean, look, I would love that as much as the next person, but no. I’m not saying they have to be dogged purists to the book, but Hollywood often forgets it sourced this material for a reason. Let it speak for itself.
Warhammer 40,000 remains a delightful secret
Look, I’ll be honest and say there’s a secret joy to WH40k being so uber niche. There was a time in the early ’00s when you could go to conventions and say “valar morghulis” and most people would look at you weird. But every now and then someone would say “valar dohaeris” and you found a new best friend. Now everyone and their brother knows the night is dark and full of terrors, and it makes it feel a little cheap.
I’m not sure I’m ready to see people suddenly saying “I am Alpharius” in droves, or having my mother call and ask if I know who this Rowboat Girlyman is that everyone is talking about. There’s something special about being that friend who introduces someone to WH40k, and I’m not sure I’m ready for all the non-believers to convert.