“Defying Gravity" 13-episode ABC sci-fi astronaut space series

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by jefferiestubes8, Jul 7, 2009.

  1. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's on hulu.com.

    ABC website... :guffaw:Someone clearly never tried to watch anything of that garbage of a site. :)
     
  2. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I caught the Canadian premiere of this Friday night on SPACE. The characters are likeable enough from what I've seen thus far, if not particularly compelling. The pacing, however, is downright glacial, with the entire plot essentially revolving around one malfunction stretched out for an entire episode. Naturally, that whole 'sex in space' thing they hit up in the adverts is nother more than typical prime-time prudishness, not that I was really expecting any better. And who let a fundy aboard a spaceship? With all this talk of 'killing' embryos and crying foetuses, you'd think the mission was being sponsored by Oral Roberts University.

    Despite all that, I think I'll tune in to the second episode next week, if only because it seems to engage more with (what I assume is) the alien entity carried in one of the compartments, and because, let's face it, there's nothing else new on during the summer. Hopefully it won't be as ponderously slow; the show's limited and pre-filmed run could mean that the pacing is designed to arc from low to high as it goes along. We'll see.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  3. romulus

    romulus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I was a little disappointed.

    Hopefully it gets better, it's not all bad, most of the actresses are hot, the beta stuff is somewhat interesting, I did not pick up on the alien thing but if true that might be good too.

    Hope the HAL thing is just internet speculation.... I might pull an internet fan boy and stop watching if that's where their going with that because yeah I do sweat the little stuff.;)
     
  4. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^ You mean not an alien but an artificial intelligence? I thought of that--it would certainly be able to choose its crewmembers in ways human auditors could not--but I'm not sure how an A.I. could cause incresed platelet levels in two crewmembers, or project images into the mind of the captain the way it did at the end. Its interest in the surface of Venus also suggests extraterrestrial origin. (Or, if it is an artificial intelligence, it's an alien one).

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    They referred to Beta as something they'd found, meaning it's unlikely to be of human origin (unless it's from the future or an alternate reality or something).
     
  6. dru

    dru Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The art direction is great but I can't stand the characters. It's all so melodramatic and written with the "all men are pigs" eye I felt like I needed to scrub up after the show to get the estrogen off me.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I found myself spending most of this episode reading the newspaper and paying only peripheral attention. The stuff about the Beta mystery was moderately interesting, and I still like watching Ty Olsson's performances, but the rest bores me.

    The writing didn't do much for me either. I was annoyed by the labored, blatant theme in the plot and narration about opening doors and going through doors and doors this and doors that. It was overdone and too literal.

    And I'm already getting fed up with the laziness of their approach to gravity -- even though the characters are supposedly in free fall and only held down by magnetic particles in their clothes, the women still have long hair that quite obviously hangs down under the influence of gravity. That's just silly.

    Also, the set design isn't very plausible for a spacecraft. The corridors are too wide and have too many sharp edges. That's a bad idea in case the artificial magnetic gravity thingy breaks down or there are some sharp maneuvers. (You want handholds in easy reach if you're in free fall, so wide corridors are a bad thing.) Also it's a waste of space and resources. The sets on Virtuality were a lot more believable.

    There's also practically no attempt at futurism; aside from a few minor things like the cash cards, and the culture apparently having gotten more conservative about sexuality and reproduction, they aren't really trying to make it look like 50 years in the future. It's like watching an old movie set in 2009 where the men wear fedoras, watch big boxy TV sets with rounded screens, and drive huge cars with tailfins.

    In short, I don't think I'll watch anymore.
     
  8. barnaclelapse

    barnaclelapse Commodore Commodore

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    I haven't been terribly impressed so far, but I'm willing to give it a couple more episodes. The characters definitely need a little work though, bunch of smarmy bastards that they are. Too many "modern" dramas are often done in for me by characters who are too damn smug for their own good.

    The art direction is gorgeous though. I'll definitely agree with you there.
     
  9. USS Kongo

    USS Kongo Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Watched the first episode on Hulu, and all I could think was "meh". It certainly takes it's sweet time to get going, doesn't it? It's also predictable. And I agree with Christopher: having the lead guy running around slugging people is a bit much with the melodrama.

    On the plus side, it has a couple of my favorite actresses in the cast: Christina Cox (from Better Than Chocolate) and Laura Harris (Daisy from Dead Like Me). I'm not sure if their presence alone will keep me watching, though.

    Sean
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  10. Chris_Johnston

    Chris_Johnston Captain Captain

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    Are you really sure you want to see their hair under realistic micro-g conditions? :eek:

    [​IMG]

    For me, it's enough that most of their hairstyles are close-cropped or in ponytails/braids. The German woman's is neither, though, so you have a point there.

    Don't know that we want to see them make too much of an issue about grooming, but I can see some potential comedy, in a "Wayne's World" sorta way...

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Whoever gave this dog a good review obviously had been paid off. Wow, it was even worse than I expected.
    I was hoping at the very least for some pretty & cool planets to look at. Instead we get idiot characters nattering on about their junior high school romances and a very lame attempt at establishing an ongoing mystery.
     
  12. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Finally got a moment to watch this, and let's say that christopher hit it on the head. Lots about it bugged me and I'll have to let it sit for a bit before I do a write up. There are a few critiques that I have, especially in terms of the "ethnic" characters, or should I say ethnic by way of Hollywood monotones.
     
  13. slappy

    slappy Commodore Commodore

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    As far as I'm concerned, space is a bit of magical fairyland. For the majority of future space-based sci-fi to work, we all have to assume that in the future they simply know more than we do and have tech that we don't understand. It simply has to be a "given" and we move on. Otherwise, any stories set in the future are simply futurist notions of what the world will be like tomorrow based on extrapolations, charts, and guesswork. That's not a story, that's minutiae.

    How many times throughout history has the accepted scientific theory of the day been debunked, re-written, and completely inverted as new and better theories arrived?
     
  14. Chris_Johnston

    Chris_Johnston Captain Captain

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    Couldn't have said it better myself!
     
  15. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Since I made that post, I actually watched a few episodes. Hoo boy. They would have been better off making space 100% a magical fairyland with hand-waving "science" to the extent it's explained at all, and concentrated all their energies on far more fundamental issues of good storytelling, starting with writing characters we give a shit about, casting actors capable of making us give a shit, assuming the writing is up to the job, coming up with a premise that does not hinge on a mystery that could very well turn out to be an unsatisfying con job (sorry, I've been burned once too many), and writing dialogue that doesn't make the characters sound like a bunch of hormonal, overgrown teenagers who are embarrassingly unprofessional at their jobs. I don't care if Beta chose them to be the astronauts on this mission; these people shouldn't BE astronauts in the first place!

    Just goes to show, there is a whole lot more to sci fi than just getting the science right. Gotta get a few other things right, too. This show, wow. It's easier to list the few reasonable decent elements: Ron Livingston was a good choice for the lead, the SFX are good for TV. Everything else: back to the drawing board!

    Clearly this show was made by people who do not remotely care about "doing it with the highest possible quality," in any regard, so why think they'd bother getting the science right? It would have been downright odd for them to get the science right and blow everything else.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: “Defying Gravity" 13-episode ABC sci-fi astronaut space series

    Which is exactly why it would be beneficial for more space shows to get the facts right and counter that. The general public is woefully underinformed about space, and SF is a great vehicle for providing information in an entertaining way.

    I'm not talking about technology, I'm talking about the laws of physics, the "geography" of space, fundamental things that we already know. For instance, Total Recall showing people explosively decompressing and blowing up like balloons in the atmosphere of Mars is profoundly ignorant; we know for a fact that vacuum does not have that effect on the human body. The same movie depicting Mars as having a rocky crust over an icy core is even more insanely stupid; it is a basic fact that rock is denser than ice and therefore would sink to the core during a planet's formation. When it comes to speculating about future technological advances, there's room for uncertainty, but there is simply no excuse for bungling known facts.


    Didn't I already address this misreading of my point? It doesn't have to be the focus of the story. A love story set in Paris doesn't have to spend a lot of time talking about the geography and architecture of the city and the grammar of the French language, but it's just basic competence to get the location and height of the Eiffel Tower right and to make sure what French phrases you do use have good grammar, even if those things are just incidental background details. Because if you get it wrong, that will stand out to those in the know and damage their enjoyment of the story.

    Of course you shouldn't put all your research on the page, but that doesn't mean you don't need to do the research. The research is building the stage on which your story takes place. The play isn't about the sets, but it still takes care and effort to build the sets properly, even the parts that nobody notices because they're concentrating on the actors. By the same token, conscientious storytelling involves more work than what you see on the final page. I'm not talking about frontloading the story itself with scientific detail. I'm talking about doing the background work to gain a good understanding of your setting before you tell a story there.


    That has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. New theories do not erase known facts. Einstein's theory of General Relativity revolutionized our understanding of gravity, but it didn't change the fact that a rock falls down when you drop it or that the Moon orbits the Earth. It just gave us new insights into what was possible beyond our verified observations.

    We know a lot of things about space and physics, simple, straightforward things. We know the human body doesn't explode in vacuum. We know hair doesn't hang down in zero gravity. We know there's no sound in outer space. We know you don't instantly freeze in vacuum, that if anything there's more risk of overheating, because vacuum is an insulator. Anyone who's ever bought a Thermos bottle should know that vacuum is an insulator. That's not an arcane theory, it's a basic, everyday reality. Yes, there are a lot of things we have yet to learn, but there are countless basic things we do know from direct observation and firsthand experience, but that mass-media SF still routinely gets wrong. The way SF is handled in TV and film is like telling a love story in Paris where the Parisians speak ancient Celtic and walk on the ceilings. It's just not even trying to get the basics even slightly right.
     
  17. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Could we put this bit of Chris's post into the FAQ? (Both here and in Science and Technology).
    And ideally into the school curriculum to counter all the idiots who say 'Well, even scientists admit it's just a theory, so here's something I just made up, which is equally valid as a theory'.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^But if it were in the FAQ, then nobody would ever see it... ;)
     
  19. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So I've watched episodes one and three of this series (because apparently what I thought was the premiere was actually the second episode on account of a scheduling snafu on my part), and I'm calling it quits. There may not be anything else on, but I can think of better things to do with an hour than watching paint dry, which is essentially what this show amounts to. Yet again the episodes had the pacing of a somnabulant snail, with plot spread out so thinly it's transluscent. How would you even summarize that last episode? "A chartacter gets moody and another spacesick"? The petty irrelevancies, vacant dialogue and balefully drawn-out pinings expose this show as little more than a soap opera trying to pass itself off as character drama, furthering the masquerade with woefully underused science-fiction trappings. You'd need an electron microscope to measure the progress being made on the mystery supposedly driving the mission.

    The worldbuilding is also confusing: abortion is illegal, which supposes a massive rightwards shift in American culture in the decades leading up to the setting, something which might find an echo in sex-suppressant technology; and the cultural stagnation of a theocracy might explain why forty years from now looks pretty much just like today, and how a fundy got aboard a spaceship. On the other hand, the show also has many women in positions of authority and responsibility, desegregated locker rooms, and a mission clearly striving to be international and multicultural, none of which align with a rightwards shift. Perhaps, as a scientific enterprise, this mission can be expected to be a more enlightened setting than the culture at large, but I suspect the writers just tossed off this 'abortion is illegal' line to manufacture drama (and I use the word 'drama' in the loosest possible sense, given how perniciously dull that storyline is) without regards for what that actually entailed about the culture and large and logical worldbuilding.

    The show has a large, ensemble cast, which is usually what I like; and I also liked that they were trying to give equal time to both the space and the people at ground control. But in this case the large cast is irrelevant since there's barely any differentiation between them; all but a handful fall under the heading of 'pretty but bland', and the time spent on their uninteresting 'arcs' just make one want to roll your eyes at the screen. Apart from the unpredictable but backgrounded German chic, and the little Indian fellow (whose heartbreak at being kicked off the mission provided the only compelling moments in three hours of television)--and, to a lesser extent, the clichéd-but-always-good-for-a-few-chuckles chunky nerd with no social graces--there's no one amongst these many characters to actually make you care about what happens to these people. And so I join what, according to the rating numbers, is a fairly crowded field of those who have said 'thanks, but no thanks' to this mush-minded, weak-hearted attempt at a sci-fi show.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman