It's lushly filmed in its own palette of sepia and gold, the costumes are over the top and it appears very true to Sci Fi Channel's core audience.
But viewers who aren't devoted followers of author Frank Herbert will struggle with Frank Herbert's Children of Dune.
The six-hour miniseries continues the interplanetary power struggle between the great royal houses of the universe over the most precious substance of the time: a habit-forming hallucinogen called "spice."
The hero remains the son of House Atreides, but he's now known as Muad'Dib. His people have raised the leader, to his disgust, to the level of saint — their reverence turned to religion.
He has married his rival's daughter in a futile effort to make peace, but really loves a concubine, Chani, who bears his twin heirs.
Muad'Dib continues to be threatened with assassination attempts from both his rival house and native tribal groups who believe he has transgressed against the desert, the source of the planet's spice-making worms.
After the birth of his children — and the death of his lover — he flees to the desert, seeking spiritual awareness.
The new leaders, twins Leto and Ghanima, are left in the custody of Muad'Dib's spice-crazed sister and planet regent, Alia.
If the plot wasn't dense enough, one must keep track of the multiple friends, enemies, "face dancers," Fremen, Bene Gesserit witches, and even characters brought back from the dead. A viewer's guide to the characters and terms might have helped. I've only read the original Dune, and found it a struggle to figure things out by context.
That said, there are stunning computer images fleshing out this alien world. Production notes said the telefilm was shot with high-definition Panavision cameras, and the filmmakers were able to distribute dailies via broadband, so Sci Fi execs in Los Angeles could review the production as it progressed and make changes — sometimes before the shooting of a particular scene was finished.
The result is a very rich, professional look. Dune
devotees should be pleased.
Frank Herbert's Children of Dune
debuts on Sci Fi Channel on March 16 at 9 p.m. and continues at that time the next two nights.