It’s a safe bet that J.J. Abrams is always working on something, whether it’s a new movie, TV show, comic book, grilled cheese recipe, etc. Now word comes in of another top-secret project between Abrams and frequent collaborators Monica Breen and Alison Schapker on a new film involving “swashbuckling robots with swords” called “Zanbato.” Sounds like the Thanksgiving hangover I never woke up from, but I digress.
Deadline has the news, though details are scarce beyond that bizarre but alluring premise. “Zanbato” marks the fourth collaboration between Abrams and the Breen/Schapker team, who previously wrote for “Alias,” “Lost” and “Fringe.” Deadline points out that female writing teams in sci-fi are rare, but you wouldn’t believe it by checking their resume — Breen and Schapker kicked out some of those shows’ most compelling and shocking material.
We don’t know what the new project will fully entail, but their past work on those shows — which we’re detailing past the jump — gives us a whole lot of confidence.
Breen and Schapker only lodged one writing credit on the set of the award-winning show Abrams helped to create, but it’s a doozy: Season 3’s “The Cost of Living,” which went into the back story of fan favorite Mr. Eko. Eko was one of “Lost’s” most popular and mysterious characters, providing a unique challenge: how do you explain the fascinating unknown without disappointing the possibilities?
But fans needn’t have worried. Their yarn was filled with moral knots, compelling answers, and even more compelling questions, coloring in Eko’s character while still retaining the intrigue that made him popular. And while a movie about samurai robots might not seem too high concept, it can’t be all whizz and bang–there’s got to be some kind of back story and emotional heft, or else fans won’t remember it after the special effects fade off the screen.
Similarly, their work on season three of Abrams’ “Alias” had them filling in the gaps of agent Sydney Bristow’s memory after she woke up following a gun fight only to find out she’d been missing for two years. The new Bristow was even more on edge than she’d previously been: how would you feel if you didn’t know where two years of your life had gone?
Breen and Schapker came in to write four episodes of that season including the memorable “A Missing Link,” in which Bristow responds to a bad guy’s inquiry of who she works for with an all-time fierce one-liner: “I’m working for myself, you son of a bitch!” Confident and assertive characters are a must for any action movie, and along with the rest of the writing staff, Breen and Schapker had Sydney forcibly searching for answers.
And speaking of confidence, the work they did on Abrams’ “Fringe” should put any doubts to rest over whether they can do high concept. The episodes they wrote involved heart extraction, smart drugs, and dopplegangers from different universes — not what you’d expect they’d get up to after an extended stint working on family drama “Brothers and Sisters.” But on “Fringe,” they have to constantly go for the unexpected, which any movie about samurai robots is begging for.
Tell us what you want from “Zanboto” below in the comments or on Twitter!