Last year YA fans were disappointed with the news that the TV pilot of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium was not picked up by Fox. Usually when a pilot is not picked up that is the end of it – they never see the light of day. But, in an unusual move, Hulu is streaming the Delirium pilot for all to see for a limited time! Could this series get a second life?
Delirium is a YA dystopian romance book about a society where love is outlawed. The story follows a 17-year-old girl named Lena who is about to undergo a procedure that will “cure” her from love. The TV pilot starts Emma Roberts as Lena.
Here’s the official book description:
Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.
I want to get it over with.
It’s hard to be patient.
It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.
Still, I worry.
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.
Delirium fans gathered for twitter viewing parties with author Lauren Oliver (she’d never seen the pilot before!) to see this YA favorite on the small screen. There’s even a special Delirium inspired dinner menu if you want to really get thematic with it. You can follow everyone’s reactions on twitter with #DeliriumPilot.
I watched the pilot the morning of its release on Hulu, and overall I found it pretty entertaining. It seems like a trend to pack a whole book’s worth of material into one episode of television (About a Boy), and the Delirium pilot in fact wraps up much like the book version.
Seventeen-year-old Lena Holloway (Emma Roberts) lives with her sister and her brother-in-law, and she’s eager to find out her husband match and get the cure for deliria. (In the book Lena lives with her aunt & uncle and cousins) In her formal interview with the authorities Lena meets Alex (Daren Kagasoff), a member of the Resistance /double agent who is tasked with recruiting Lena to the cause, but of course they fall in love instead.
Hana is Lena’s BFF, who breaks the law by going to dance parties (forbidden, just like Footloose!) Her husband match is someone with big connections. But, I spy a love triangle coming on with Julian.
Julian (Gregg Sulkin) appears in the pilot, even though he first shows up in the books in the sequel Pandemonium. Julian is the “uncured” son of Thomas Fineman (Billy Campbell- remember him from The Killing?), hothead leader of the Deliria-Free America group. Julian is starting to question his father’s anti-love tactics. He also looks to be infatuated with Lena’s friend Hana, an interesting change from the book.
Elyse Hargrove (Michael Michele) is a senator and presidential candidate sparring with Thomas Fineman. Her son Fred (Delon de Metz) is matched with Hana.
I liked that the Resistance group is a focus in the pilot, and some familiar names pop up. Their mission is a little different than in the book though- I wonder why!
I enjoyed the little references to love in the pilot that popped up on book and record shelves in Thomas Fineman’s pre-cure room. Nice touch! Also was happy that the dance parties at 37 Brooks, Hana and Lena’s running scenes, the beach scene, the sheep at the interview, and the police raid made the cut.
Even though it’s essentially the same, the TV ending doesn’t pack a punch like the book ending. Since so much plot is crammed into 45 minutes rather than the slow buildup of the book, it’s hard to get fully invested in the story.
Though the TV show takes liberties with the source book, I think the series has potential and I’d like to see where the story was heading. Hope the TV powers that be give this pilot another look, and perhaps slow down the story a bit so the viewers can connect more with the characters.
So, what did author Lauren Oliver think? I don’t know what she felt overall about the pilot, though she does feel our pain now about the book ending:
I can't even tweet about that ending. Now I know how you book readers felt! I'M SO SORRY! #DeliriumPilot
— Lauren Oliver (@OliverBooks) June 20, 2014
I asked Movie Date Andrew to take a look at the pilot and share his thoughts (solely based on the TV version since he hasn’t read the book.) He says:
I liked the pilot okay, but I guess I expect a little more futuristic gloss (nifty personal gadgets, flying cars, floating touchscreen displays) with my sci-fi TV. This show’s modest production values made it seem more like a CW teen drama than the network blockbuster it needs to be. I also don’t feel the pilot did a satisfactory job of explaining what was so wrong with love/delirium; an orientation video (a la the President Snow film in Hunger Games) showing the potential dangers of romance would have helped a lot. Finally, a little bit more humor might have defused the tendency towards accidental self-parody; after hearing real music, Julian whimpers, “It made me FEEL,” and Thomas angrily retorts, “Now you know why we have laws!” The exchange comes across as comical. To have characters acknowledge the absurdity of their situation would have made it easier to laugh along with them, instead of at their expense. But Emma Roberts is great; I’d love to see more of her as the unwitting, fish-out-of-water resistance fighter on the wrong side of the fence. The book series sounds intriguing, too, and I’m dying to know more of the story—maybe Netflix could pick this one up?
Watch the trailer below, and check out the Delirium pilot on Hulu:
Have you seen the Delirium pilot – what did you think?