Thoughts on the Delirium Pilot

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About a year ago, hospital the pilot for a TV show called Delirium, cheapest based on the best selling trilogy by Lauren Oliver, hit the desks of someone important somewhere and that important someone took a pass.

And I was fairly disappointed. Let me be clear on this: I’m not a massive fan of the Delirium trilogy. I think it has a great concept but it was not played out well over three books. I was very disappointed in the finale book and I thought that a TV show could perhaps take the concept that Lauren created and turn it into a better story. But alas, that was not to happen.

That being said: Delirium has a great concept. Its a world not unlike our own, but for one thing: love has been labeled an actual disease and everyone must receive the cure at the age of 18. Lena Haloway can’t wait to get the cure, especially since her mother committed suicide from being much too in love with Lena’s father, who had long since passed. However, Lena meets Alex, who shows her a world outside the one she’s known and she starts questioning whether love really is a disease.

I really thought this could make a great TV show.

Just in the last week, however, there was an announcement that the pilot episode would be available for a limited time to be viewed on Hulu. It was released yesterday and, of course, I had to sit down and watch the pilot. Here are my thoughts:

I warn you: if you haven’t read any books of the Delirium trilogy, I would refrain from reading this post. It will have book spoilers in it.

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What I Liked:

None of the actors, except perhaps Gregg Sulkin, were at all even close to what I pictured for the characters. However, I really thought that all of them captured what each character was feeling and how they felt. One that particularly jumped out to me was Daren Kagasoff as Alex. He was SO not what I pictured as Alex but I thought he captured the essence of him and that was really important to me.

I liked that they brought in Julian earlier. Julian makes his first appearance in the second novel, Pandemonium, and he certainly does not live next door to Hana. I liked that they kept up the curiosity of his character, and that he still had the sickness that kept him from getting the cure but I loved that they sort of seemed to be changing the direction he was headed in, from the book. In the book, he becomes a love interest of Lena and that annoyed me to no end. In the show, it showed more of a connection between him and Hana and I was kind of okay with that.

It stayed kind of close to the first book, and that’s the only book I really like in the trilogy. I thought that Delirium was a strong start but Pandemonium and Requiem just didn’t stick the landing. So when the pilot took a lot of familiar scenes from Delirium, I was fairly happy with that.

What I Didn’t Like: 

Yeah, it stayed close to the book…it did the entire first book in the entire first episode! I know there are two more books, and writers can do whatever they want once a book becomes a television show (look at The Vampire Diaries) but it just was so weird to me. It went from Lena’s failed evaluation all the way to when she escapes over the fence and Alex is shot.

And that being said, everything felt so rushed. In my opinion, the first season could have been the entire book of Delirium but they rushed it and I’m not really sure why. I can’t see the purpose behind it because it just seemed to be rushed character and story development. The pilot opens with Lena explaining about deliria, and the cure, and how she can’t wait for it, and by the end of the episode, she’s avoiding the cure, and running from the police, to the “safety” outside the fence. That literally takes an entire book of story and character development for her to get to that point and they accomplished that in one episode…but not in a good way. It felt incredibly rushed, like an incredibly rushed movie version of the first book and that disappointed me.

Now, perhaps if they had continued with episodes, I could see the direction they were going with and maybe it would have made more sense to me. But it just didn’t, and I could see why it wasn’t picked up for a full show. I was annoyed at how fast everything happened. No one, even those who haven’t read the books, could honestly believe that Lena goes through that change so quickly. It was just very rushed and sloppily done.

I also felt like they could have emphasized more how the cure changes you, makes you sort of robotic and without real feeling. We kind of got that with Lena’s sister but not enough to really know what the cure does to you. Why would Lena scream and kick at the idea of getting it if we don’t *really* know what it does to you?

In The End: 

I just didn’t like it. The more I thought about it, the more I was disappointed in how it went. It had the concept and it had the potential. The actors really embodied their characters, even though they’re not what I pictured and the world seemed really well built. I liked what they had started.

However, I felt, just like with the books, that they just didn’t execute it as well as they could have. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I just wasn’t happy with it. It was entirely too rushed, and you didn’t really have time to connect with the characters before they were thrown in a tailspin. Hana betrays Lena and tells her sister about Lena’s feelings. How am I supposed to care? We’ve only had an hour-ish to really love their friendship so what is it to me that there was this betrayal. Alex gets shot. Who cares? You’ve only watched one episode with him, how can you be attached to him? You can’t, honestly, and I feel like they needed to stretch out the storylines, give us a chance to get to know each character and watch them develop and change. Watch Alex and Lena fall in love, watch Lena change her mind, watch Hana change her mind, and it honestly would have been a much better pilot.

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Delirium Pilot”

  1. Oh wow. I’m really curious about this. I was kind of disappointed when I found out the show was cancelled, too. I haven’t watched it yet – hopefully soon – but even now I’m questioning why they tried to fit the entire first book in the first episode.

  2. I totally agree. I loved seeing the world outside of Lena’s perspective, like the government and the lives of other characters, but the characters ultimately had no lasting presence because they changed too fast too soon. Like when one of the resistance members said that the reason why Alex was distracted was because he liked Lena, or when Lena started talking about her new, confusing feelings with Hana. Um…you guys just met each other.

    I really, really wish they had spaced this episode out over a season. The way it played out felt cheap, as if it was one of those condensed recaps of a season that you see when a new season is starting. So disappointing.

  3. Delirium wasn’t really my favorite series. Honestly I would have chosen to read Shatter Me until my eyes dried out before stepping back into Delirium…until seeing the pilot of this show. No, I will never choose Delirium over Shatter Me (or many other series for that matter). BUT seeing the characters come alive (even in iterations I didn’t expect) was exciting. A few thoughts:
    1) I don’t know how pilots work, but this seemed like one big sales pitch for the whole series. Like “Look at this extended trailer. Give us money and we will make a great series.” If that is what it is supposed to be – great job!. It definitely didn’t seem like Season One, Episode One material.
    2) AMAZING actors – all the way to Billy Campbell as the head of the DFA.
    3) This does NOT seem like a FOX show. Maybe the CW, although they passed on a Selection series which I cannot forgive them for… I could also see this show having a good reception on ABC Family. Online exclusive shows have done remarkably well also. I would LOVE to see this generate enough buzz for the show to get picked up by someone. They would need to reshoot so the first episode is an actual first episode and spread the storyline across the season. Climbing the fence and Alex getting shot is season or mid-season finale material! I would hope that if they get a chance to make the series the principle actors remain the same.

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