Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TV Meme: Day 1

Day 01 - A show that should have never been canceled

There are quite a few shows that I wish had never been canceled, but they're divided into 2 categories - those that were canceled before they got an entire season, and those that were canceled even though they were given many seasons to prove themselves.  I was actually hoping to post about this topic recently, but work got in the way.  First and foremost, let me affirm that Firefly shouldn't have been canceled, and was and still is a brilliant show.  However, since people already know that one, I'll tell you about one I just finished watching on DVD, after it was canceled halfway through its first season. Defying Gravity was a late summer 2009 ABC show.  As with many sci-fi shows, this one didn't bring in the big audience, but I don't think it was given a fair shot with an odd summer beginning, and then attempting to compete with the returning fall shows.  Now that I've seen the whole series, I think we missed out on what might have been a great show.

The story occurs in 2052, and society now has the ability to send people on multi-year space missions.  Humans have been to Mars and it didn't go particularly well, but now there's a trip planned around the solar system.  The 8-member Antares mission led by Maddux Donner (Ron Livingston) and Ted Shaw (Malik Yoba) is attempting to reach Venus.  Donner and Shaw were also part of the Mars mission, and have returned.  The show flashes back to just after that mission when Donner and Shaw are now teaching at the new NASA, where we meet the rest of the Antares crew trying to make it through training to the next mission.  There is some drama - a quick love affair between Donner and Zoe (Laura Harris, from the equally short-lived Women's Murder Club) that results in a failed pregnancy.  Since we see them in current time, we know who makes it onto the mission, but not how they got there and into the job they do.  So when we see Zoe get pregnant in the past, you're never quite sure how the pregnancy will end, but we know she doesn't have a child.  The same is true for events in the other crew members lives.  We see several minor incidents aboard the ship that occur in nearly all space movies (an injury and flying blood, weightlessness, etc.) but the show starts covering new territory fairly quickly.  There's a mystery called "Beta" that only a few people at mission control know about (and none of the crew) but that seems to be dictating the whole show.  I won't tell you what "Beta" ends up being, partly not to ruin the really terrific series finale, but also because they only brushed the surface of what the mystery might have revealed.

It's a good show that might have turned great.  With two parallel stories rather than many stories that eventually converge, the confusion of Lost is simplified, and with only one major mystery, except for "how will they survive a space mission", it's an easy show to like and understand.  Too bad it was canceled after one season. 

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