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Amazon's Lightyears - What We Know So Far

Over the past few years, Amazon Prime has built an impressive collection of original series in a number of genres. Their shows now range from the period dramedy "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" to the superhero action drama "The Boys," to the fantasy series "Carnival Row," to the survival drama "The Wilds," and even animated shows such as "Undone" and "Invincible." With such rich offerings, fans have begun to take note of the shows that the streaming service opts to produce and pick up for distribution.

One of the genres that Amazon Prime has not shied away from is science fiction. This was most apparent in the service's pickup of space drama "The Expanse," which had previously ended up getting canceled at its original home of SyFy, at the end of its third season, before Amazon swooped in and rescued it — for what turned out to be three additional seasons. 

Now, Amazon is set to make another foray into the science fiction genre, in a different way, with "Lightyears." Here's what we know so far about this new show.

When is the release date of Lightyears?

While Amazon has given a full series order to "Lightyears", a release date for the show has not been announced yet. The series order, however, does guarantee that the show will make it to air for atleast one season, which is a good sign. A series order differs from a pilot order, in that the latter has the studio ask only for a pilot — which they use to decide if they'd like to go ahead with the show or not. The fact that "Lightyears" is bypassing that stage bodes very well.

The show is currently in pre-production, which at first glance might suggest that it'll be a while before viewers would get to see it. However, the show is scheduled to begin filming later this year, with veteran TV director Juan José Campanella already tapped to direct the first two episodes. This suggests that the show is expecting a quick turnaround from pre-production to production, and the limited cast leads to the idea that shooting may not be complex, unlike shows such as fellow Amazon Prime series "The Wilds" or "The Boys," both of which have to contend with the logistics of a large ensemble cast. These factors, all put together, seem to indicate that "Lightyears" will be coming to the streaming service before too long, with the only potential obstacle being an extensive post-production process.

Who is in the cast of Lightyears?

"Lightyears" boasts two veteran performers in its main cast, in the form of J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek. This is far from Simmons' first foray into science fiction, as he was recently seen in the Starz series "Counterpart", where he played two versions of the same character from alternate dimensions. This wouldn't be Simmons' first role on an Amazon streaming series either, as he currently also voices Nolan Grayson, aka Omni-Man, on the animated superhero series "Invincible".

Sissy Spacek is also no stranger to Amazon Prime, or streaming shows in general, having previously appeared in the first season of the Amazon Prime series "Homecoming." Spacek has also shown up in the Netflix original series "Bloodline" and the Hulu original series "Castle Rock", making this the third streaming service she has shown up on. This show, however, would mark Spacek's first entry into science fiction on the small screen, though she has proven herself capable of delivering excellent performances no matter the genre.

The show is also casting for one more main character, and it will be interesting to see who gets the role. The presence of both Simmons and Spacek strongly indicates that whoever does end up in the role will have to be able to match the skills of those two, or else they will drag the show down, something the creative team is sure to be mindful of. Given Spacek and Simmons' history with Amazon Prime productions, it may also be possible the third cast member will come from the roster of another series on the streaming service.

What will be the plot of Lightyears?

The plot of "Lightyears" will revolve around a married couple by the name of Franklin and Irene York, played by Simmons and Spacek respectively. Together for over 50 years, the duo have a secret: buried in their backyard is a chamber which leads to another planet, which is deserted. The two have kept the chamber's existence a secret, but the arrival of an mysterious young man will disrupt their lives, and they will learn that the chamber has more secrets than they knew of.

Irene is a retired English teacher whose health is in steady deterioration, and as the days go on, her fascination with the chamber only deepens as she keeps visiting it, wondering about the deeper meaning of its presence. Franklin, a role Ed O'Neill was initially cast in before dropping out and being replaced by Simmons, is a former woodworker who remains devoted to his wife but isn't as enthusiastic about the chamber. He puts up with it for Irene's sake, but is approaching a breaking point in this regard.

Daniel C. Connolly, who has also written for "Longmire" and "The Son," has been tapped as the showrunner. With previous science fiction TV show experience, thanks to having written for the USA series "Colony," it'll be very interesting to see how the show develops under Connolly's guidance. What the finished product looks like will be seen when the show finally makes its debut on Amazon Prime.