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I am trying to find the name of a direct to TV movie, possibly a 2-3 part miniseries which I believe aired on the SciFi channel in the 90s. I don't remember who starred in it, but the movie opened with an astronaut attempting reentry whose shuttle ends up exploding. He awakes in a large bubble of air in a river and after reaching the surface and swimming to shore, meets several other people, from seemingly many different times throughout history (including one alien, who died on Earth).

Over the course of the movie, we learn the world is the afterlife, where everyone goes when they die. The major plot involves launching a steamboat (built by Mark Twain, no less) to travel up a river to the mountains, where the beings responsible for bringing everyone to this world are.

Does anyone know what the title of this movie/miniseries is?

  • Sounds like a mix between Lost and something else. Interesting story, good luck! – Möoz Nov 25 '16 at 2:36
  • Riverworld is a famous (but remarkably boring :/ ) book by the way. – Fattie Nov 25 '16 at 15:38
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Sounds very much like the 2003 pilot for a (proposed, but never produced) television series adaptation of Philip Jose Farmer's "Riverworld" concept.

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Here's a link to the Wikipedia page for the 2003 version of Riverworld which aired on the Sci-Fi channel.

And here's a quote from the first paragraph of that article's "Plot" section. You will see that it strongly resembles your description of how the movie began.

In the year 2009, a meteor shower above Earth claims the life of American astronaut Jeff Hale (Brad Johnson). He awakens inside a jade-green bubble beneath the surface of a body of water filled with them. A mysterious cloaked figure pierces his bubble with a staff pressing it against his forehead, forcefully filling his mind with images to come. Dazed and in pain, he soon finds himself crawling nude onto a beach littered with metal canisters containing unisex clothing. Soon dozens of people from different lands and historical eras emerge from the water, also nude, and distribute the canisters. All understand each other's language, except a lone Neanderthal man, who lacks the capacity for speech.

  • Awesome, exactly what I was thinking of. I didn't realize it was an aborted TV show, though that does explain the ending. – kingofzeal Nov 25 '16 at 11:31
  • Really awesome, I didn't know they actually tried to make a series from this. – beppe9000 Nov 25 '16 at 16:45
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This is Riverworld, a pilot for a proposed TV series, based on the series of novels by Philip Jose Farmer.

Described at Wikipedia as:

In the year 2009, a meteor shower above Earth claims the life of American astronaut Jeff Hale (Brad Johnson). He awakens inside a jade-green bubble beneath the surface of a body of water filled with them. A mysterious cloaked figure pierces his bubble with a staff pressing it against his forehead, forcefully filling his mind with images to come. Dazed and in pain, he soon finds himself crawling nude onto a beach littered with metal canisters containing unisex clothing. Soon dozens of people from different lands and historical eras emerge from the water, also nude, and distribute the canisters. All understand each other's language, except a lone Neanderthal man, who lacks the capacity for speech.

This was the first of two televised adaptations, but the second one, a miniseries, didn't have an astronaut as a main character, but rather a reporter, and also took a number of far more dramatic liberties with the source material, including making one of the historical protagonists of the novel (absent entirely from the first movie) into a villain.

  • That second one was so bad… where did they get glassware and all the fine goods on the boat? – JDługosz Nov 25 '16 at 7:35
  • I didn't realize there was a second one. I'll have to check that out. Seems like they may have deviated too much from the original story though. – kingofzeal Nov 25 '16 at 11:31

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