Saturday, November 04, 2006

Earth 2

When I initially rented Earth 2, I had it stuck in my head that it was a remake of Genesis II, the series Gene Roddenberry had tried to develop over a period in the '70s. Apparently I had the details confused with Andromeda. Before I say anything about "Earth 2", let me suggest that a box-set of the three "Genesis II" TV-movies would sell if someone put them together.

First of all, if you're going to take the recommendation that I'll give in here soon, you should note that Universal Studios has seriously thrown off the flow of the series by putting two episodes in the wrong order. Episode 6, "Natural Born Grendlers" is the 20th episode in the set and episode 20, "Flower Child" is the 21st episode in the set. It appears they were probably placed on the disks in the order they aired with no regard to internal continuity. Mind you, these are weaker episodes overall, especially "Natural Born Grendlers", although it does help make sense of things that will happen later, so I understand why they held back airing them, but on the set, after the cliffhanger that was never to be solved, they're even greater disappointments than they deserve to be.

Considered in its proper terms, however, it's a smart and entertaining series.

A couple reviews I've seen, have compared it unfavorably to "Firefly", which I've noted here and here, I absolutely hate, so it's little surprise to me that my opinions and those of that series legions of insipid drooling fanboys would differ substantially.

Mind you, any show with Clancy Brown as a tough but loving dad is going to be ok in my books, but this has more than that. It trades in ideas. It reminds me oddly of a Land of the Lost for grown-ups, which I'd pondered a bit here. I suppose that popped out at me originally in part because the native species of this world, the Terrians, look a bit like zombie Sleestak.

There are none too subtle comparisons between our heroes relationships with the Terrians and those of the white settlers with the native people of North America, but that's handled quite well ultimately, in a relationship where neither really understands the other and what extent any group is constituting a threat to the other is genuinely unclear. We often fail to consider how much these two very different cultures must have had understanding even the most basic aspects of each others desires and this metaphor makes it clear in a very logical way.

But more than that, it's fun.

Sure, the government weasel character starts out one-dimensional and when he gets his "very special episode" still only develops to two dimensions. The lead character, Dr. Adair, never quite holds the screen well enough to be justify her position in the center of the story.

Ultimately, however, it succeeds at what science fiction does best, entertaining, provoking thought and bringing new things to feed your imagination, better than most examples I've seen in series television. It really is too bad it couldn't have gotten the chance to develop further.

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