Mankind’s fate may rest with one young­ster in ‘The Pas­sage’

The State (Sunday) - - Television Weekly - By Jay Bob­bin

The “Pas­sage” in the ti­tle of a new se­ries could re­fer to a young char­ac­ter’s rite of pas­sage, but it ac­tu­ally means more than that.

Based on Justin Cronin’s book tril­ogy of the same name, “The Pas­sage” is one of the new year’s first new tele­vi­sion dra­mas as Fox pre­mieres it Mon­day, Jan. 14. With film­maker Ri­d­ley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Run­ner”) among its ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers, the show re­turns Mark-paul Gos­se­laar (“NYPD Blue,” “Saved by the Bell”) to weekly work as a fed­eral agent as­signed to trans­port a young test sub­ject (Saniyya Sid­ney, “Fences”) for Project Noah, a se­cret op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing a virus that ei­ther could save or de­stroy the hu­man race.

The agent ul­ti­mately comes to feel more re­spon­si­ble for the young­ster than even he ex­pected, go­ing on the run with her while mankind’s fate hangs in the bal­ance. Jamie Mcshane (“Blood­line,” “Sons of An­ar­chy”), Em­manuelle Chriqui (“En­tourage”) and Henry Ian Cu­sick (“Lost,” “The 100”) also are among stars of the saga.

A co-pro­ducer of the se­ries, au­thor Cronin re­ports that film rights to his “Pas­sage” nov­els were pur­chased more than a decade ago. “Adapt­ing it for an en­tirely dif­fer­ent medium that has a dif­fer­ent toolbox, it has dif­fer­ent things that it can do,” he rea­sons, “and things that it can’t do that I can do. For that rea­son, I’m com­pletely ag­nos­tic on this. I’m re­ally ex­cited by what they’re do­ing. I didn’t write a novel where peo­ple would read the book for an hour and then not read it again for a week ... so the rhythms are com­pletely dif­fer­ent, the con­straints are dif­fer­ent and the re­quire­ments are dif­fer­ent.”

Also an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of the show, Matt Reeves (“Clover­field,” “War for the Planet of the Apes”) was at­tached to di­rect a movie ver­sion when he sug­gested that the Scott Free pro­duc­tion com­pany make it as a TV se­ries in­stead. “Lit­er­ally, they laughed at me and said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no,’ ” he re­calls, “and that’s be­cause they had spent a lot of money to try and do (fea­ture-film) drafts. And I was like, ‘No, no. Re­ally.’ It was just that the story is so mas­sive and so beau­ti­ful.”

Gos­se­laar says of his “Pas­sage” in­volve­ment, “What hooked me was the re­la­tion­ship with Amy (played by Sid­ney). I have a 12-year-old daugh­ter, so I can re­late. For me, that was the heart of the story.” Young co-star Sid­ney notes she’s been learn­ing a lot from work­ing with TV vet­eran Gos­se­laar: “When I act and I’m with him, it feels won­der­ful, just be­ing able to play a girl that re­ally needs some­one, it’s re­ally that what­ever Amy’s go­ing through, I’m go­ing through. So I need Mark-paul, al­ways.”

Mark-paul Gos­se­laar and Saniyya Sid­ney star in “The Pas­sage,” pre­mier­ing Mon­day on Fox.

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