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Admiral2 January 7 2012 05:37 PM

SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
So recently I purchased the SPACE: Above and Beyond complete series DVD. This is my happiness level:


Which completely swamps my sadness level at the forty plus bucks pricetag:


Because I loved this series when it first came out! This was MY show! This was my must-see-TV, my appointment television. This was one of those shows where I threatened to disown members of my family if they visited, phoned or otherwise interrupted me while I was watching it.

Here's why: I love good science fiction and I love good war stories. S:AAB was a good science fiction war story, World War Two set in the backdrop of deep space, with spaceships and aliens squaring off against US Marines. I was hooked from the first episode.

I'm also glad to see it clearly on a TV screen. Back in the day, I didn't have cable, and my set didn't receive channel five - Fox where I lived - all that well, so most of the time I watched the program through a slight haze of snow. Now I can watch it in all it's glory!

My impressions of the series overall:

-Let's get this out of the way. Back then, I thought Shane Vansen was one of the hottest women in science fiction. Now, a decade plus after the fact? Shane Vansen is one of the hottest women in science fiction!

-With shows like this I'm as interested in the ships as I am in the characters. I have great respect and admiration for the SCVN Saratoga. She's not pretty or sleek, but she looks like she's built for a purpose. In fact, many purposes, all of them martial. I love her bluntness and ruggedness. My only gripe is that they call her a carrier. By definition, a carrier's main weapons are her planes. Saratoga deploys Marine pilots, Marine Expeditionary Forces, Marine Special Forces. Her main weapons are MARINES. That makes her an Assault Ship. Yes, it's a semantic difference, but to a naval enthusiast, it's an important semantic difference.

-Tucker Smallwood plays the best gruff, bad-ass CO I've seen in a long time. Commodore Ross rules!

In following posts I'll give my impressions of individual eps. It won't be in order because I tend to go to my favorites first. If you're interested, stay tuned.

captcalhoun January 7 2012 05:57 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
i loved that show too!

FPAlpha January 7 2012 06:32 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
"Kill the engine stupid tank!" :lol::lol:

God i love that show.. just yesterday i was at a friends and saw the box on his DVD shelf. Together with Firefly it's one of the very few shows i'm actually sad they were cancelled.

Yes.. the premise is unrealistic (using fighter pilots for standard ground missions? No way) but the execution was near flawless.

The stories and especially the characters were awesome and the two-parter with Chiggy von Richthofen was awesome and gave us one of the most quotable TV lines ever ;)

Admiral2 January 7 2012 06:34 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
I was devastated after watching the finale and realizing it really was the finale and there wasn't going to be a second season. Of course, like a good sci-fi nut I thought, "BASTARDS!" But I liked the way Morgan and Wong signed off in the last Exec. Prod. card:


Perfect endnote.

The two-hour pilot is a good one that introduces the characters and situations well. It's the late 21st century and the human race has been flying into deep space and colonizing other worlds under the impression that Humanity is alone in the universe. What the viewers see and what the colonizers find out later is that this impression is dead wrong. The colony seen in the beginning is destroyed and Earth is about to be dragged into an interstellar war. With this set-up we're introduced to the main characters.

Nathan West is a colonist who's bumped off of his colony flight in a shocking bout of PC finagling: several of the colonists must be replaced by In Vitros, human beings that had been created in test tubes to fight a previous war.

Cooper Hawkes is one of those In Vitros. We first see him trying to get away from Rednecks (of the Future!) intent on hanging him. He fights them off successfully, but ends up running afoul of the law and being put in jail.

Shane Vansen's first appearance is at the graves of her parents, Marines who were killed in a terrorist act committed by A.I.s, the enemy the In Vitros were created to fight.

These three end up in the same Marine boot camp, along with Paul Wang and Vanessa Damphousse (supporters here, main characters in the series proper). What follows is the training and butt-kicking you'd expect in any movie version of boot camp. It even has R. Lee Ermey as the drill sergeant! (Brilliant!) Of course, war becomes evident while the mains are in training, and they graduate just in time to defend Earth from a major alien offensive. Their final exam? Deploy to Mars and set up some equipment. While there they encounter and take out an alien advanced scout.

This is the type of television that leaves me staring at the TV set and panting like Pavlov's dog. Shane's story brings to mind questions of justice and vengeance, Cooper's questions of humanity and prejudice. Those are the major goodies. The minor ones are the spaceships fly like spacehips (unlike in Wars, Trek and old Galactica, which made it unique for space TV) and it's Marines versus frakkin' aliens!

What I didn't like was West's story. He got separated from his young blond fiance. Yawn. Didn't care then. Didn't care for most of the series. Still don't care.

Also, though it's distinctive, I think Shirley Walker could have done better with the theme. I suppose it's too late to do anything about that...for a bunch of reasons...:shifty:

Overall: A

Mr Light January 7 2012 08:02 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
When it aired I thought it was brilliant.... I rewatched it a few years ago and it didn't hold up as well. But it's still good for its time.

Ensign_Redshirt January 7 2012 09:03 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Well, that brings back childhood memories.

A show which definitely should have been renewed for a second season. But I think it was too expensive to produce and also too dark for most viewers (in the mid-90s anyway). I wonder whether Ron Moore borrowed/stole a thing or two for nuBSG here. On the other hand, Space Above and Beyond itself seemed to have been inspired by Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Haldeman's Forever War, and James Cameron's Aliens (or the Alien films in general, compare Weyland-Yutani & Aerotech for instance).

Favorite character: Lt. Col. T.C. McQueen (obviously)

Quite fittingly for the general tone of the show it ended with

propita January 8 2012 06:37 AM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Loved the show. I agree with the OP about the characters, particularly McQueen being the best and West being a bit dull. But what I also liked was that West would've been the leader in most shows, here he was but choked, so he was not the team leader.

And James Morrison (McQueen) was HOT!

stonester1 January 8 2012 09:38 AM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Great show. Yet another attempt to do space opera outside the Trek approach.

I loved it. I own it.

John Clark January 8 2012 01:35 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Another fan here. I would have liked another series though.

DevilEyes January 8 2012 01:56 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Loved the show. It was more of a war story in space than typical Sci-Fi/space opera, and the new BSG reminded me of it in a few ways. Favorite characters were the in-vitros, McQueen and Hawkes, and I also quite liked Shane Vansen. I particularly remember a dialogue-free, at times surrealistic episode about Hawkes' origins, called "Who Monitors the Birds?"

saturn5 January 8 2012 03:19 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Brilliant show and going to rewatch it online myself soon (you can't get the DVDs in Europe). For me Cooper Hawkes and Shane Vansen were the standouts especially in the brilliant 'Who monitors the birds?' which Joss Whedon cites as one inspiration for 'Hush'. Colonel McQueen was also excellent in The Angriest Angel (certainly BSG thought so for their ep 'Scar').
Weak points? Wang and West, especially Morgan Weisser who was a charisma free zone. You can see the makers getting a little more desperate for ratings as time goes on, bringing in David Duchovny as a guest star and getting the gorgeous Kristen Kloke to show more and more skin (not that this was a bad thing:drool:)
Apparently there were no scripts for the second season written but this was the provisional storyline;

Forbin January 8 2012 03:24 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Me and my Hammerhead:

JRS January 8 2012 04:33 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
I have not actually seen any episodes of this yet.
However I am planning to buy it soon, since its out now on R2 DVD also:cool::)

Titus Andronicus January 8 2012 07:43 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
Such a great, great series. And the outline for the rest of the series is very fascinating!

Admiral2 January 8 2012 07:50 PM

Re: SPACE: Above and Beyond - Reviews and general geekiness
I'm glad to see the show had so many fans. Thanks for joining in the thread!

A few people mentioned "Who Monitors The Birds?" as being a favorite ep. It is absolutely one of my favorites. There is actually some dialogue, but most of it is in flashbacks Cooper is having while he's trying to get out of Chig territory. This ep is truly his story, and it plays out like a classic Twilight Zone story, especially in scenes where he's in the In Vitro Facility where he was born. The visuals, the background music, the situation all combine to scream out "You're traveling through another dimension..."

Especially "Dead Shane Vansen" throwing herself all over Coop while he's evading Chigs. That was classic. :)

I've heard cost talked about before as a reason for why some shows don't get second seasons, and that's obviously a factor, but it's always been my contention that a big enough viewership would make money no object. I think if S:AAB (or Firefly, or Caprica, what have you) had the ratings that Cheers or Friends got on a consistent basis advertisers would gladly pay through the nose to sponsor such shows and the network in turn would gladly pay whatever it took to keep them on the air.

But, of course, that theory depends on them getting those ratings...and they didn't. :shrug:

It seems T.C. McQueen is a favorite around these parts. I liked him, but I never thought of him as a favorite, at least not as much as Commodore Ross, who once threatened to make a security puke walk "all 12.6 lightyears" back to Earth to a specific guitar shop if he damaged the guitar the commodore serenaded the 58th with in a previous episode.

But yeah, the exchange between Ross and McQueen in "The Angriest Angel" makes the episode a standout. ;)

And yes, West was charisma free, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Wang because he's a football nut (heaven forbid any TNG character like a sport as violent and uncouth as American Football) and he comes across as kind of a geek. Damphousse was actually more useless, so much so that they tried to make her into a psychic one episode.

Forbin: Your Hammerhead is da coolness.

JRS: You won't be disappointed.

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