I recently re-watched an old attempt at sci-fi television called Earth 2. It aired for only one season from November 1994 until June 1995. I remember watching this show during its original run and discovered that it the entire series was available on Amazon for a reasonable price, so I got it. It was a fun watch, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this unfortunately unsuccessful series.
The premise of Earth 2 is that the Earth was rapidly becoming uninhabitable , and most of the people of the planet had moved onto space stations in orbit. It was a goal of the population to find other habitable planets to move to, and one had been found some 22 light years away, called G889.
Billionaire Devon Adair puts together an advance group to attempt to settle G889 as a new home for humans. Her main motivation for this though is an attempt to save her son, 9-year-old Ulysses, who has contracted a disease caused by life on the space stations. Specifics on this disease aren't made clear in the series, but suffice it to say that it is a degenerative and fatal disease that strikes children living on the station.
Devon's mission does not have governmental support and an attempt to sabotage her ship with a bomb, which is discovered and jettisoned. The crew goes into cryogenic sleep for the trip to G889, and arrives at their destination 22 years later. The ship has more problems and the entire crew and colonists are forced to abandon, and the group winds up scattered all over the planet's surface. Devon and her group salvage what equipment and technology they can and start out for New Pacifica, where the first colony is supposed to settle.
Along the way, the group encounters many unknown dangers and situations. One discovery made is of a race of people that populate the planet called Terrians, a race of subterranean dwellers that can only communicate with the humans through a dreamscape that only a few, including young Ulysses, can understand. The Terrians have a symbiotic relationship with the planet, in other words, if the Terrians become extinct, the planet will also become uninhabitable. The Terrians take an interest in Ulysses and cure his disease.
The cast on Earth 2 was very good. My favorite character in the show was John Danziger played by Clancy Brown. A very fine actor who doesn't get his due as far as I am concerned. His role as Danziger is to keep the equipment running and he becomes the protector of the group.
Debrah Farentino plays Devon, the leader of the group who successfully, or unsuccessfully maintains balance in the group. Yale is played by Sullivan Walker (another favorite), a former convict who has cybernetic implants that allows him to act as a library computer, as well as a trusted adviser to Devon. Dr. Jessica Steen plays Dr. Julia Heller, a bit of a mysterious person who not only is the group's medical aid, but is also found out to be working for the Council (the government) as a spy. The beautiful Rebecca Gayheart stars as Bess Martin, wife of Morgan and played by John Gegenhuber. This is an interesting couple; while Morgan is constantly getting himself into trouble, Bess spends most of her time getting him out of it. Morgan is a minor government official who is basically scared of his own shadow and quite greedy, always trying to profit from the group's situation. Antonio Sabato Jr. is Alanzo Solace, a hotshot pilot who has problems coping with being grounded. He also is the most adept with communicating with the Terrians. True Danziger is played by J. Madison Wright; she is the daughter of John and seems to be also quite good at assisting with equipment maintenance.
|Adair, Danziger, Alonzo, Julia, Morgan, Bess, Yale, True, and Ulysses|
|Gaal and Reilly|
While Earth 2 had no lack of star appeal with a good cast and some great guest stars, I tink it was severely lacking in the writing department. The story-arc was good with the colonists working toward finding New Pacifica, and the individual stories were interesting, but the characters themselves were shallow. There wasn't enough back-story on the characters to give viewers a chance to invest in them. In my experience, the characters in sci-fi become people that we can care about, or become people that we love to hate. Characters that have no depth are always an indicator of success for a sci-fi franchise. Even the best actors on Earth 2 were under-used and never really became real because they were just thrown into situations as objects to advance the story; they should have been the story, especially in the first season of the show.
It is funny to me that at the same time I am watching a show about colonizing other worlds, the science teacher I work with would just happen to find an article in Scientific American magazine that discusses the same subject.
In the January 2013 edition of Scientific American, Dr. Cameron M Smith of the Portland State University discusses the future of space colonization. According to Dr. Smith, there are many obstacles to be overcome that go beyond technological problems. He explains that as humans move out into space problems of biology and culture will need to be addressed.
Unlike what Sci-Fi would have us believe, the people who will venture into space will not just be Captain Picards, but rather these new space-going populations will consist of ordinary people in family and community configurations. But how will these new populations be chosen? Well, according to Smith, genetic testing will need to be done to choose those that are most suited for life beyond Earth. While travel beyond will probably have to consist of small populations, that alone would mean that any pandemic infection could wipe out an entire population.
Space going cultures might become vastly different than out Earth-based in several ways, including belief systems, language, performing arts, and in the way we even measure time.
Long term genetic changes must be anticipated, not only in the people that leave our biosphere, but the animals and plants that must be taken along to sustain populations.
In view of today's technology, Dr. Smith's arguments are all very plausible. This is an interesting article with many ideas that are not commonly addressed in discussions of space colonization in sci-fi, nor are addressed in much of science fact.
Podcast and Blog News
The Scifi Diner released a Conversations episode that discusses Going to see the Hobbit to see the Star Trek: Into Darkness footage in Imax Theaters, problems with Kahn, and , Dr. Who, and more. I did record some remarks about my own sci-fi activities and you can hear them on this show. You can also hear recorded remarks from Renee, a fellow listener and follower on Twitter.
Colin released and episode of Trek News and Views that is mostly an all news show. He covers many not commonly known topics in this episode and includes some very interesting remarks from JJ Abrams on why he guards Trek secrets as he does. I recorded remarks on the previous show that dealt with the Star Trek Original Series episode, Turnabout Intruder.
Go to the Subspace Communique blog to see a neat video of the original test footage of Star Trek: Next Generation characters. Chris speculates on whether the show would have been as successful if some of the things that were tested were used in the show. I watched this video and found that some of the hair styles that they were considering for Counselor Troi were absolutely frightening.
Well, there it is...
I remain, Kahless!