Monday, 2 November 2009

TV review - Defying Gravity

I'm a sucker for American drama series but tend to have a low threshhold for trash TV. Because I'm a UK political hack I have to love the West Wing (and do). I also love the Sopranos and am waiting to start seriously watching the Wire. I'm also a big fan of Studio 60 - even if it got humiliated and then dumped by the US networks.

And so I started watching Defying Gravity - the story of a five year mission to explore new galaxies, search out new life, boldly go... etc.

You see there's absolutely nothing original in this show. Simply tweaking five years into six and making the mission into an exploration of our solar system rather than the galaxy as a whole does not differentiate the basic premis from Star Trek. The crew might not be exactly Kirk, Spock and so on, but they are the generic cardboard cutouts that US central casting produces nowadays and these are the direct descendents of those that were around when Trek was made. They may all hold US passports, but you can be damn sure that they come from the far reaches of the globe as recently as their grandparents.

I fully realise that this is intended as tea time drama (I'm watching it on I-Player and so really don't know what time it is put out) and so we can expect little in the way of ground-breaking here. But they could have done a little better with the basic plot lines.

Do we really have to hear the baby crying everytime 'the one who had an abortion' is on screen? Please give us credit for memories a little longer than goldfish. I'm assuming that nerdy geek's non-swimming will be brought back as a plot line at some point (when they discover lakes on Venus?) but you can bet that we will not be forced to exercise our little grey cells when that moment comes. We'll get the full five minute soft focus flashback.

And then there is the big mystery... the strange force which is dictating events on the space ship. So far I've seen two episodes and the writers have been determined to shove the force into our minds at every chance. It's as if they don't understand the basic theory of suspense. You have to trail little nuggets for us to piece together rather than blare out

"There's a mysterious being. But we're not going to tell you what it is yet."

It's just like Lost. In Space.

Could the six year nature of the mission be screaming any louder - 'Please re-commission us for another series'. But, like Lost, the slippery slopes will be reached as soon as series two gets the thumbs up. That's the point that I stopped with Lost. A tight drama with an obvious end point suddenly became this flabby pap which would be milked for all it was worth. And then cancellation would come without enough time for a decent ending and with none of the quality writers left on staff to give it a decent burial.

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