The Rook: Is Cancellation Imminent?


Cancellation looks imminent for the recently premiered Starz miniseries The Rook. The Rook premiered on Starz in these United States on Sunday, 30 June 2019. The series, based on the Daniel O’Malley contemporary fantasy novel of the same title, stars Emma Greenwell as Myfanwy Thomas. Further to Greenwell, the Lionsgate / Liberty Global co-produced production also features Joely Richardson, Olivia Munn, Adrian Lester, Ronan Raftery, Catherine Steadman Jon Fletcher, Ruth Madeley and Eleanor Matsuura.

Is There a Trailer?

What is the Series based on?

The Rook is an American television miniseries based on an Australian supernatural novel set in the British Isles. An adaptation of the book, written by Australian science fiction novelist Daniel O’Malley, was ordered as a miniseries by Starz in 2017. The source material, adapted to television by Stephenie Meyer, was a winner of the 2012 Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. By the time the first two instalments of the series began filming, Meyer had already parted ways with the production.

The Rook Image Credit:
The Rook Promotional Poster. Image Credit:

The Protagonist…

The protagonist of O’Malley’s book, and subsequently the miniseries, is Myfanwy Thomas (Greenwell). Myfanwy can control other people’s bodies with her mind.

After suffering supernaturally induced amnesia, Myfanwy attempts to re-involve herself in the daily operations of Checquy. Checquy, responsible for protecting the British Isles from supernatural threats, is a clandestine government organization very few people within the British government know the existence of.

On returning to work, while maintaining her amnesia a secret, Myfanwy attempts to discover the identity of a traitor inside the organisation. The protagonist’s rank, from which the title of the book and miniseries is derived, is Rook. Myfanwy, working out of the Rookery, is one of two persons responsible for daily domestic operations.

The Villain…

Even though there have been reports circulating pertaining to Paula Patton playing the villain in this Starz miniseries, the IMDb page for the miniseries no reference to the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol actress playing a character. While this could be disconcerting by television viewers looking for accurate information regarding the Starz miniseries, considering many IMDb pages do not accurately reflect production cast lists, such omissions should be expected.

Other Checquy Characters…

The second person working at the same level as Myfanwy is the Gestalt. The Gestalt siblings are Eliza (Steadman), Robert (Raftery), Alex and Teddy (Fletcher).  While Alex and Teddy are identical, that is not the strangest aspect to the Gestalt siblings, however. The Gestalt, despite the initial illusion of there being four individuals, is a single mind occupying four bodies. Eliza, Robert, Alex and Teddy, because their mind is one and the same, all have the same knowledge.

The Right Honorable Linda Viscountess Farrier (Richardson) can interact with people within their dreams. Lady Farrier is one of the highest-ranking individuals within Checquy. While the author lists the character as Lady in his book, the miniseries adaptation departs from the source material by having Farrier fulfil the role of King. In another departure from O’Malley’s book, Conrad Grantchester (Lester) is no longer one of Farrier’s Bishops. He is now the Queen.

Conrad, having the ability to create chemical compounds within his own body, can be extremely deadly. The chemicals Conrad creates are vented from his body like a mist. The Bishop role is filled by Claudia Clifton (Matsuura) and the Pawn is Ingrid Woodhouse (Madeley). Ingrid, Myfanwy’s executive assistant, is a Retainer.

There is no reference to Alrich. In O’Malley’s book, with Conrad, Alrich is a Bishop. Alrich, described by the author as possessing a polished appearance, is a vampire. The apparent absence of this character from the miniseries is disconcerting.

The Outsider…

Monica Reed (Munn), having arrived in London from these United States without an invitation from Checquy, is unwanted. For the King, Monica’s presence is an annoyance she neither needs and or wants. Monica wants in on the investigation of what went down at the Millennium Bridge. It looks like the King has deployed her people, specifically Conrad, to prevent the American from garnering information of any real value.

Final Thoughts…

The miniseries, at least from what we saw in the series premiere, is a poor reflection of O’Malley’s work. Within the pages of The Rook, we find an extraordinary world filled with vibrant characters. Even though the character we read of in O’Malley’s book possesses no doubts or trauma, the Myfanwy Thomas we see on screen is a complete mess. This interpretation of O’Malley’s protagonist is FINE (f***ed-up Insecure Neurotic and Emotional).

O’Malley’s book is vastly different from that which we see on screen. Instead of telling the story from Myfanwy’s perspective, showrunners Lisa Zwerling and Karyn Usher have opted for an ensemble approach. While an ensemble approach might work for some television productions, without character development, it will not work. Character development is a significant aspect of telling a story. It does not look like the television viewing audience will see much, if any, character development within Starz’s miniseries.

There is no reference to Alrich. In O’Malley’s book, with Conrad, Alrich is a Bishop. Alrich, described by the author as possessing a polished appearance, is a vampire. The apparent absence of this character from the miniseries is disconcerting.

The people responsible for bringing O’Malley’s work to television screens have missed an opportunity to create something special. The miniseries looks rushed. If Lionsgate, Liberty Global, Character 7 and Carpool Entertainment had bothered to adapt O’Malley’s work accurately, we’d have something worthy of a second season. As it stands, cancellation looks imminent.