If you’re a subscription-based cable network that has just said goodbye to a long-running ratings powerhouse of a fantasy drama adapted from a popular book series, what do you do? You fill that scheduling void with another fantasy drama adapted from a popular book series. That’s just canny programming, and so is the new trailer HBO posted today for its forthcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, which reveals an interpretation of the generally youth-friendly fantasy trilogy that is, true to its name, very dark.
Based on the first of Pullman’s books—published as The Golden Compass in North America—this inaugural season of HBO’s Dark Materials is being pitched as something worth sticking with the network for, if you’re an aimless and shellshocked Game of Thrones fan: It opens on intrepid explorations to some chilling supernatural “North,” a byzantine and epic power struggle, fantastical animal familiars, and at least one harrowing fight with a bear. Though Dafne Keen stars as young heroine Lyra, the focus is also largely on the adults around her, particularly Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Will His Dark Materials’ showrunners have an easier time sticking the landing than Game of Thrones’ did, since Pullman’s novels have long since been completed and published? Will the source material and production assistance from Scholastic mean that past Thrones viewers can safely enjoy a big-budget Sunday night fantasy drama with their children without having to resort to bootleg edits? These and other questions will be answered when His Dark Materials premieres on HBO Nov. 4.