The Sparrow is 400 pages and spans nearly fifty years. On trial in Rome, disgraced priest Emilio Sandoz narrates in flashback the events that led up to the Stella Maris crew assembling, reaching Rakhat, and making contact with the alien species (plural) there. We the audience have to learn about the Runa and Jana’ata as quickly and exhaustively as the crew does; on Earth, there’s the Jesuits and the mafia to contend with.
To try and cram this into a two-hour movie—even stretching it to three hours—would necessarily cut key developments. Since The Sparrow is headed for television, however, each episode could be bookended by the frail Sandoz trying to make his peers understand why he made the decisions he did. Each season could be the standard twelve episodes with a year in-between.
The Runa and Jana’ata wouldn’t suffer, either, since there could be entire episodes devoted to characters like the merchant Supaari VaGayjur. Consider the Battlestar Galactica season 2 episode “Downloaded,” where for the first time we see what happens to Cylons after they die. Suddenly, Number Six went from a sex symbol and saboteur to almost human. Most importantly, parsing out Sandoz’s story over the course of a season or two would preserve the horror of the novel’s emotional payoff.
I am all for secularizing stuff a lot more, but this is a bit ridiculous. When a phrase with religious connotations has become colloquial and part of our cultural consciousness, then you can’t split hairs. I say “oh my God” far too many times a day, but I don’t see it as calling upon a deity; it’s actually pretty similar to the exclamation “dude!” for me. So this guy doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
That said, I’m the girl who says the Pledge of Allegiance like this: “…one nation (pause) indivisible…”