What feels like a long time ago, I was following the development of the Delirium pilot - hearing about casting, looking at photos, and being absolutely crushed when FOX did not pick up the series. Now, after being able to see the pilot on Hulu, I can say that I totally understand why it was not picked up.
As many fans were after reading Requiem, I had mixed feelings about the series as a whole because I was disappointed by the end; however, I was still pretty excited about the TV show. Unfortunately, the pilot was choppy, had too much going on, completely skipped over a lot of important information to rush through the entire first book in one hour, and changed so many things for what seemed like no reason. I'm always one to look past changes made in book to film adaptations, but despite seeing the book and pilot as separate entities, I feel that the pilot was just not that great.
In non-spoilery conclusion:
To fans of the series - I recommend still watching this because it's free and it's less than an hour long. Despite how much I was disappointed by it, I've seen people who loved it. If you want to read a more detailed review, continue to read on through the spoilery section!
To people who've only heard about Delirium - Again, it's free and less than an hour. If you like dystopian worlds, you'll probably like this. Also, if you're on the fence about reading the series, watching this pilot provides the basic concept of the first book in a very watered down form. I think those who know little about this series could definitely be interested in reading the books after seeing this pilot.
Onto the spoilers! Please read at your own risk as there will be spoilers for Delirium, the differences between the show and the book, and some spoilers about how the changes they made would effect Pandemonium and Requiem.
The pilot starts out somewhat similarly to the book - Lena is on her way to her interview. The main difference is this: her sister is the one bringing her and she is driving a car. This creates a huge difference in the society from the beginning. The class separation between Hana and Lena, as well as Hana's appearance (since she is lacking the flowing blonde hair of the books) is one that is essential to understanding Lena's insecurities. This may seem knit-picky, but it's the first sign of how little the friendship between Lena and Hana is portrayed in the pilot. After the very first scene with them talking before the evaluations, there is very little of the two together - they go running once, they go to the party, Lena warns Hana about the raid, and Hanna tells Lena she needs help because she's infected (this last one bothers me the most). Hana is WAY more supportive of Lena and Alex in the book. While she is the one who turns them in, Lena has no idea she's been betrayed by her friend.
After meeting up with Hana, Lena goes into her evaluation. In the pilot, she is called upon by Alex, who IMMEDIATELY falls in love with her, obviously. He then leads her to the examination room and watches her. In Lena's question and answer session, her answers are completely different from anything in the book and the scene shows very little of Lena's doubt in the procedure or her different views - cutting the part about her favorite color was particularly disappointing to me. Then, a change that I honestly don't get, sheep come into the room. Sheep. Why did it have to be sheep instead of cows? Were cows too expensive? Messy? I have no idea but I found it odd that they changed the type of animal.
After this, Lena and Alex fall in love. It's completely rushed and doesn't make any sense why she just blindly follows him or how he knows to rescue her from the cure. All the stuff about them hanging out in an abandoned house? Gone. All the stuff about Hana actually getting to know Alex? Gone. Lena and Alex's trip to the Wilds? Gone. All of it gone. One of my favorite parts of Delirium is seeing Lena and Alex fall in love. While their relationship develops quickly in the book, it still makes sense that Lena would fall for him since she was so insecure about her appearance and didn't know what she was experiencing with this crush. In the movie, it's Alex is just like, "Yo, I'm handsome and I'm not really cured and we should totes run away together because I know things about society and stuff." Ok, maybe he didn't exactly say that but it's close enough.
Another major plot point added to the pilot is that the resistance is actually trying to recruit Lena. It's clear from Alex's interactions with the resistance leader, Tack, that Lena was his mission - he was sent from the Wild to get her. As the pilot progresses, it becomes much more clear that they want Lena because in the show, Lena's father was the parent who didn't actually die and was kept prisoner for trying to destroy the cure. I'm sorry, but what? While it seems like a good way to possibly reverse the cure in the end of the series, it's confusing. While it makes sense that Lena's mother survived and would be important to the resistance (like in the books...), there is absolutely no basis for her father to have been uncured. It's really quite a stretch from the books to say that both of Lena's parents had unsuccessful cures.
The stuff about Julian's family was mostly introductory information about the DFA (Deliria Free America) and the way his father went about his political business with the presidential candidate. There's also a really weird interaction between Hana and Julian about how Julian should break the rules. It didn't make sense to me but afterwards, Julian goes into his father's office and finds all the banned books and music. This is a HUGE change in his character! When we meet Julian in Pandemonium, he blindly follows his father's agenda, saying that getting the cure is more important than the risk it poses to his life. In the pilot, Julian is already having doubts about the cure.
I didn't elaborate much on the presidential candidate thing with Julian's dad, but that candidate's name happens to be Elyse Hargrove. Hargrove. Like Hana's future husband Hargrove. The connection between the presidential candidate being Fred Hargrove's mother was pretty unclear at first - I had no idea that the woman they kept showing and talking about was a Hargrove because there is absolutely no basis for this in the books. In fact, they actually made Fred Hargrove younger in the pilot. When we meet him, he has a discussion with his mother about educating people but not allowing them a choice and she says he'll understand after he has the cure. Despite Hana still receiving Fred as a match near the end of the pilot, Fred being uncured is a complete game changer for the series as a whole since he is so cruel in Requiem.
Overall, I can see why they wanted to incorporate back stories into the pilot since just following Lena would not have enough dimension for a television show but it felt too choppy. The cuts between the different stories were kind of hard to follow and coupled with the fact that the entire plot of Delirium is shoved into the pilot with all those other stories was just way too much. I had a lot of hope for this pilot despite not being picked up, but it's completely understandable why the series never came to light.
What did you think of the pilot?
Let us know in the comments!