The Watchman: Syfy’s ‘Nightflyers’ Sets Out in Space, Bravo’s ‘Unanchored’ Hits High Seas

Game of Thrones has done pretty OK, and Syfy is hoping for a bit of success with Nightflyers, a psychological thriller series based on a novella by the author that inspired GoT, George R. R. Martin. Nightflyers follows maverick scientists on an expedition aboard spaceship The Nightflyer in 2093. Episodes one through five were rolled out Dec. 2-6, and episodes six to 10 go live Dec. 9-13.

Jeff Buhler, executive producer and showrunner, refers to Nightflyers as “a haunted house story on a spaceship.”

Buhler comes from horror movies, and is eager to see if he can sustain high levels of horror across 10 episodes. “The biggest challenge is keeping the scares consistent, keeping the tension consistent,” he said.

Eoin Macken and Gretchen Mol are in the cast.

Martin’s novella came out in 1980. Buhler said the project is “so smack-dab in my wheelhouse.” He took on the project with a film in mind, but decided it was better suited for television. “There’s so much world in there, so much character, so much mystery, so much story,” Buhler said.

Does Nightflyers have anything in common with Game of Thrones, besides the author? Buhler notes both projects’ “complex, flawed characters” and worlds where “things are not black and white.”

Nightflyers’ futuristic setting, and the debate it raises about the fate of mankind, make it unique, Buhler believes. “Hopefully that approach makes us stand out,” he said, “among the 18 million shows out there.”

And unscripted Unanchored starts on Bravo Dec. 3. It follows a group of close friends on a “life-changing journey,” in Bravo’s words, full of wanderlust and self-discovery. The friends took part in The BucketLust, a floating festival of 35 catamarans cruising through the Bahamas. “They take over the whole island with an army of like-minded people,” said executive producer/showrunner Bill Langworthy.

Langworthy also runs Vanderpump Rules. He was drawn to covering a BucketLust bunch because he’d heard of people who returned home after the experience and felt the trip changed their life.

The cast is unique because they value a rich experience more than material things. “Every penny they have, they put toward traveling the world,” Langworthy said.

Captaining the boat is Jack Royds, a swashbuckling figure who comes from British aristocracy. Langworthy likened him to “a character out of a British novel.”

While the castmates are close friends, the Bahamas experience brings out some things they didn’t know about each other. Langworthy describes their “history … and secret history.”

There’s no place to hide on a catamaran. “If something goes wrong,” Langworthy said, “you don’t have the option to go away for a few days — unless you’re a very strong swimmer.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.