San Diego Comic-Con is the place to go to learn about upcoming science-fiction TV shows, and one of the most buzzed about was Medinah, the first ever sci-fi series to come from the Middle East. After viewing the pilot, which screened in Ballroom 20 — one of the con’s biggest venues — I was able to sit down with the show’s executive producer and cast and talk about the show’s potential.
The show, which is filmed and produced in Qatar, is full of mystery, with the pilot revealing little about the overall plot and instead focusing on character development. We follow several storylines involving around a dozen main characters, as they are all going about their day against the backdrop of the nation’s most powerful company, Quant-Com, launching an experimental rocket into outer space in the hopes of reversing global warming. The rocket explodes, the result of apparent sabotage, and ends up causing a number of the characters to be trapped in a cave. Once they find their way out, they emerge in what appears to be a parallel world — apparently caused by the explosion — complete with a mystical-looking shepherd and giant CGI hyena monster. That’s where the episode ends, with far more questions than answers, but that’s the idea.
No one I spoke to would reveal too much about what happens in the seven episode first season, but one thing everyone agreed on is that things are going to get crazy. “There’s more to come from the point of sci-fi and fantasy… there’s more to see,” said Ibrahim Al Mirza, one of the series’ native Qatari actors. “That ending teased what’s to come.” Abdullah Al Harbi, who portrays the brother of Al Mirza’s character on the show, agreed. “This is nothing. We haven’t even started,” he added, referring to the light sci-fi element in the pilot.
“You will see things the world has never seen,” boasted Edward Apeagye, who portrays the mysterious shepherd who appears at the end of the pilot.
With its international ensemble cast (which includes familiar faces like Eric Roberts and Natasha Henstridge), mysterious sci-fi plot, and promise to explore its many characters’ complex backstories, the series very much sounds like it could be the next Lost. And that comparison is not lost on the cast — no pun intended. “I’ve heard that a lot,” said Rick Ravanello, who plays CIA agent Bannon on the series. “If you’re gonna do a big ensemble cast, you have to have very interesting characters, and that’s what’s going on right now. The development’s already there, but what we can’t reveal is the backstories of these characters … you can’t really answer that because it’s such an integral part of where we’re going with this show.”
For anyone worried about the idea of another Lost, which notoriously alienated many fans as it meandered through a muddled plot in its later seasons, you can rest easy knowing that Medinah won’t have the same problem, as series creator Ahmed Al Baker has apparently mapped out the series’ entire storyline. “Ahmed has this masterful plot that’s gonna happen, but it’s gonna be over a series of seasons,” said Becca Buckalew, who portrays Quinn on the show. “You’re not gonna watch season 1 and understand everything. The more episodes you watch it becomes clearer who’s involved and who the players are … a lot of mystical things happen.”
The series has not yet announced any deals for American distribution, but executive producer Luca Bercovici is convinced American audiences will be able to see Medinah. After stating he wasn’t really allowed to talk about any potential network deals, he added that he has “a pretty good feeling” that the show will find a home in the U.S. Here’s hoping that it does.
Title image courtesy of Medinah Production Company