The Expanse Producers Thrilled with Syfy's Early Season 2 Renewal

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(Photo: Syfy)

The Expanse isn't just a hit for Syfy, though it's definitely that. The series, after airing only four episodes (that it premiered, in a very forward-thinking and anti-network manner, online), got a second season order, something that has "thrilled" producers Mark Fergus and Naren Shankar.

"We're so excited to be able to finally show this 10-hour movie to the world, because not only do we love every episode, we love how the whole season is one big arc and one big story, that we're just dying to get it out into the world so we could share it with people, so we're pretty psyched," Fergus told ComicBook.com in a phone interview after the renewal.

"It's actually filled us with grotesque overconfidence, and we're going to stop listening to everyone," Shankar added in jest. He more earnestly called the renewal the "greatest New Year's Present ever." Some of the confidence wasn't a joke, though. The producers' studio, Alcon Television, started pulling together writers for season 2 development ahead of the renewal - just in case.

But the hit, as stated above, means more to Syfy. The Expanse is part of a new vanguard of series for the network meant to drive it back into the forefront of science fiction television, a status that even network executives will admit the channel lost. That could mean the pressure is on, but the people working on the show don't look at it that way, instead just seeing an opportunity to tell good stories - an outlook that thus far has meant critical and fan acclaim and early renewal - so seems to be working.

Fergus and Shankar don't take all the credit, or even just to their writing team, but respect the books they're building the series from. The novels of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (under the pen name James S.A. Corey) give them the base they need.

"They published these wonderful novels, these terrific novellas which we're drawing on. We have all of these characters that we're starting and threads we're putting through," said Shankar. The writers look at all the Expanse novels, novellas, and short stories to pull from, but try to build off of unexpected sections of those books, as well.

"There was a 1 or 2 sentence description in Leviathan Wakes. We turned it into an entire B story in an episode that connects in a very meaningful way to the larger plot, and launched these characters forward that you'll see in the show," Shankar explained. "That's obviously not in the books, but it's part of the books, and part of the world, and that's been a lot of the fun, finding those moments to expand on it and broaden the scope of it. It actually makes it feel real and rich."

Fergus talked about the source material as an embarrassment of riches, with "ten seasons of material" from just the main novels. " Instead of just marching off headlong through the novels' plot, we find these little corners of stuff that they illuminate, incredibly fun to weave into the story."

Those deep dives give viewers of the show characters like Anderson Dawes, played by Jared Harris.

"In the book, he's somewhat tangential,"Shankar said of Dawes. "He's very minor.

We realized early on that this was actually a really interesting way to illuminate what was going on in Ceres, and give Miller an antagonist. That storyline just grew episode by episode, and it's a really interesting relationship now. Jared Harris and Thomas Jane are so fascinating together. That is one of the things that television can do really, really well. You can spend time with people and really dig into them, and I think that's what we're trying to do in the adaptation, quite a bit."

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Now that they're getting a better idea of what works and what needs to be worked on, the second season "puts fuel in the tank," Fergus said. Now, they're looking to "keep building the arcs we've built in the first season and open up the universe of the books even more, because it seems to be clicking with people."

The Expanse airs Tuesday nights at 10pm on Syfy. Check back tonight for a spoiler-laden talk about the major reveals in this halfway point episode of season one. You can also catch-up on the show for free at Syfy.com.