Earth: The Final Conflict -- is it any good?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Lord Garth, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. Broccoli

    Broccoli Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2001
    Location:
    Broccoli
    Pilot Ace

    Spoiler code that as Lord Garth hasn't gotten to there yet.
     
  2. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2002
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    That's all in the first episode, isn't it?
     
  3. Daneel

    Daneel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto
    ^ Second episode, actually, although IIRC,
    there was an implication in the second season premiere that Da'an had in fact ordered the death of Kate Boone: Da'an was denouncing Zo'or for killing Boone, telling him he had no right to do so, and Zo'or responds by saying that his comments are ironic, considering it was he who ordered the death of Boone's wife. I don't know if Zo'or is just misinformed or if he is actually speaking the truth, but it does seem to contradict Sandoval's statement in the second episode that he acted on his own in orchestrating Kate's death, doing what he thought was in the best interest of the Taelons. Meh, whatever... maybe this was just a sign of worse things to come on this show.
     
  4. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    Well, at least I know what to look out for in the next episode. I figure I'll do an episode a day.
     
  5. Broccoli

    Broccoli Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2001
    Location:
    Broccoli
    I got the impression it was a little bit of both. Da'an probably inferred something to Sandoval and Sandoval took matters into his own hands with Da'an knowing what went down, but looking the other way. Also, it's Zo'or, and he was a dick who liked to make people feel bad about themselves.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I don't think Season 2 counts. The original showrunner who handled the first half-season of E:FC was long gone by then, so if they said Da'an was responsible, that's a retcon after the fact. The original intent of the story was that Sandoval acted on his own.
     
  7. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    I just watched "Truth" (Episode 1.02). Good episode. Loved the Taelon interactions that framed the story.

    Why the Hell did Sandoval confess to Boone? There's bound to be tension between these two characters throughout the season. Did Sandoval just want to put a quick end to Boone's hunt?

    I'm glad the Taelons weren't responsible, and I like that Boone turned around suspicion about them since humans themselves aren't trustworthy. It's not often in a Roddenberry series that humans are shown in a negative light.
     
  8. GalaxyX

    GalaxyX Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    I think Sandoval confessed because (at least in his mind) he believes that Boone is the same as him, an implant who will not experience the remorse of the loss of his wife and will actually understand the incident from his own CVI induced logic.

    I thought that was freakin' brilliant writing! Now Boone has to deal with a HUGE emotional baggage. He has to deal with:

    1. The fact that his wife is dead
    2. The fact that he knows who killed her.
    3. The fact that he understands that the killer didn't do it out of malice, but out of misled good intentions.
    4. The fact that he has to pretend he knows nothing of these emotions, and has to keep up the schrade that he is the same as Sandoval.

    I can't believe such a great show was ruined so quickly. If they had only kept the same level of writing (and kept the same cast) that show would have blown almost ALL sci-fi series out of the water. It would probably be considered a timeless classic now.

    For me:

    S1: Pure distilled uber-awesomeness.
    S2: Horrid, I saw the first 2 episodes and didn't bother anymore.
    S3-S4: I have no idea. I would occasionally catch the odd episode here and there. It seemed to have become a more down to earth political show by then. (Really the only reason I watched is because I liked that hot little vixen Street, and Rene herself wasn't bad on the eyes either :) ). I however, have no clue what was S3 and S4, I never really cared either.
    S5: Again I caught an episode here and there. Like someone said above me, it became this cookie cutter bad guy show, sort of like Atlantis, but without any of the fun Atlantis had. I did see the final episode, and it didn't make sense. Who won? who lost?
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Exactly. Well, almost exactly. He assumed that Boone, like himself, had had his priorities readjusted so that serving the Taelons overrode all other considerations. It's not that he wouldn't experience remorse at his wife's death if the CVI had actually worked; it just wouldn't be as important to him as serving the Taelons, and he'd understand that it was necessary as a means to that end.

    Yeah. "Truth" is one of the two finest episodes of the series, the other being "Sandoval's Run." And they both revolve around the CVI and its effects on otherwise good people's priorities, particularly Sandoval's. That was a great concept. And "Truth" was superbly written by Richard C. Okie, the original showrunner and the man who took Roddenberry's concept (which was a more straightforward secretly-evil-aliens tale, a lot like V) and added the richness and complexity and nuance that made early E:FC so remarkable.

    That was Tribune Entertainment for you. They were obsessed with the bottom line above all, and particularly the short-term bottom line. They kept micromanaging their shows and replacing cast members and staff members with cheaper ones because they followed a strategy of keeping costs as low as possible to maximize profit in the short term, rather than one of making enough investment in the property to let it really earn a loyal audience and pay off with bigger profits in the long term.

    Virtually no Tribune shows kept their developers/initial showrunners for very long. Robert Hewitt Wolfe was fired from Andromeda after a year and a half. Steve Feke was dumped from BeastMaster: The Series after one season, though he made some contributions to the second. But Richard C. Okie's tenure was the shortest I'm aware of. He was let go after half a season. And you can tell; although the first season overall is the strongest, it begins to show changes pretty much right after "Sandoval's Run." Particularly, Zo'or (a character created by the new showrunner) suddenly becomes a much more prominent character. Which is the beginning of the show's dumbing down, because unlike the fascinatingly ambiguous Taelons embodied by Da'an (who could be either protagonist or antagonist in different circumstances because his worldview was simply so alien), Zo'or was more of a straight baddie from the beginning (though not nearly as much of a moustache-twirler as he later became).


    As I recall, S2 was very inconsistent. They didn't have a clear sense of story direction, which may have reflected more upheavals in the staff. There were arcs begun in the first half that evaporated later on, attempts to bring in more fanciful sci-fi stuff like parallel worlds. Not to mention the absurd contrivance of the half-alien hybrid Liam being born and growing to adulthood in a matter of moments, a very awkward way of replacing the departing Kevin Kilner as the lead. What they should've done was promote Lisa Howard to the lead role. I guess they weren't ready for the idea of an action show with a female lead. It's too bad that when they were ready three years later, the show was too far gone for it to be any good.

    They were pretty shallow stuff. Another thing about Tribune is that they didn't want highbrow, thought-provoking science fiction, they wanted lowbrow action-adventure, because that sold well overseas. The simpler the concepts, the easier to translate, I guess. Majel Roddenberry really made the wrong choice partnering with them. Her goals, to produce sophisticated, intelligent, plausible speculative fiction, were completely different from Tribune's.

    So there wasn't a lot of substance to those seasons, in story or character. They got pretty formulaic. Pretty much the only character growth that Liam and Renee underwent in those seasons was to become progressively blonder.
     
  10. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    This explains Andromeda, also done by Tribune. Here was a Roddenberry concept, with a DS9 alumnus heading the show, and those two things alone should've guaranateed something I'd become a fan of. It never happened and within four months I couldn't watch any more.

    Though I never watched E:FC at all, I did know someone who did and around the same time was complaining about why Gene Roddenberry's name was still attached to the show. From the sound of these posts, now I can understand why.

    Earth: Final Conflict started three years before Andromeda. Shouldn't Majel Barrett have had enough time to have learned her lesson and done Earth with someone else?
     
  11. Broccoli

    Broccoli Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2001
    Location:
    Broccoli
    ^ The thing is that EFC didn't go off the rails as quickly as Andromeda did. Despite the changes, the story was still focused on the same sort of things. It really wasn't until season 5 when the show got a complete revamp (no pun intended).

    That, and I have the sneaking suspicion that Barrett didn't really pay that much attention with the show beyond the first year or so, leaving everything in the hands of David Kirschner.

    Also, by the time Andromeda was starting up, first-run syndication was beginning to die. There probably were not that many options left beyond Tribune and Alliance/Atlantis (though, I am not sure if AA had any part with Andromeda).
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    The first year and a half of Andromeda were excellent in terms of writing and acting, but suffered from a microscopic budget and a production team (particularly makeup) with little to no experience at SF/space opera. So the production values never lived up to the concept.

    (I got into DROM well before the show premiered, through the advance promotional material online, particularly the "AllSystems University" site that laid out the history, species, politics, etc. of this elaborate world they'd created. If it had been done in prose form, it could've stood up there with acclaimed SF universes like Uplift and Known Space and the Culture, it was so rich and well-developed. Instead it got made on a shoestring budget for TV and just couldn't live up to its potential.)


    In this business, relationships matter. It isn't easy to get a new project off the ground, and it's generally easier to do so with a studio or network that you have a pre-existing relationship with. That's part of why Joss Whedon did Dollhouse for FOX even after Firefly (though that was really more because Eliza Dushku had a development deal with FOX, but the same argument could be made from her perspective, since FOX cancelled her Tru Calling too).

    Majel Roddenberry had spent a few years collaborating with the folks at Tribune, they were people she had an established relationship with, so they were the ones she was in the best position to sell another concept to.

    Anyway, shows and movies fail all the time. If you wrote off a business/creative relationship with someone just because your first project together failed or went in a direction you weren't satisfied with, you'd never get anywhere in the TV or film business. Those relationships, those industry connections, are important to have, and it's a mistake to burn your bridges.


    Actually I think it went off the rails much more quickly. At least DROM kept its developer and its original creative thrust for a year and a half. That's three times longer than E:FC got. And I wouldn't say E:FC's second season was focused on much of anything.


    I have the impression that she got somewhat frustrated with her inability to keep the show on the track that she thought Gene Roddenberry would've wanted, and she ended up choosing to distance herself from what it had become (note that her guest appearances as Dr. Belman ended after a while). Maybe with DROM she was hoping what happened with E:FC was a one-time thing. See above about not giving up on your business relationships too easily.


    Nope, no Alliance/Atlantis. Mainly Tribune and Fireworks.
     
  13. Broccoli

    Broccoli Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2001
    Location:
    Broccoli
    I got into that too. I thought it was pretty neat all the backstory they released that early on (I think it was in spring 2000 when ASU went online). It was quite the universe and I was excited by what to expect.


    I have to disagree. While the show did change showrunners and gears to a more action-oriented production, it didn't wildly change the premise. While they were trying to regroup at the beginning of season 2, I felt they regained their sense of purpose by the middle of the season and the back half was really enjoyable.

    With Andromeda, by the end of the second season, they jettisoned their original premise to replace it with a Star Trek clone. Only to do it again for each subsequent season.

    I have the impression that she got somewhat frustrated with her inability to keep the show on the track that she thought Gene Roddenberry would've wanted, and she ended up choosing to distance herself from what it had become (note that her guest appearances as Dr. Belman ended after a while). Maybe with DROM she was hoping what happened with E:FC was a one-time thing. See above about not giving up on your business relationships too easily.[/quote][/quote]

    Yeah, her last appearance was a quick cameo during the early third season where she bought the Flat Planet Cafe after Augur was rapidly losing money.

    In an interview with TV Guide, Barrett mentioned how she found other projects laying around when she found the script for Battleground Earth (the inital title of EFC before it was changed to avoid confusion with the then-movie Battlefield Earth, based on the novel) and hoped for them to be made into shows. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of development deal in place if EFC was successful enough, Tribune would fund others.
     
  14. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Location:
    Bonney Lake, WA
    The thing is, seasons 2-4 (excluding, perhaps, the first half of season 2) are perfectly respectable SF viewing. It's just that the tone is so different from season 1 that a lot of people don't like them by comparison.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    No, it didn't change the broad premise, but it changed the approach, the voice, the characters, the style, the intelligence. The new showrunners may have been trying to tell the same rough type of story, but the emphasis and substance were completely different. Richard C. Okie was telling a challenging, sophisticated story about truly alien beings with alien agendas that could be both benevolent and dangerous due to their profoundly different outlook and priorities, and the quest of William Boone to defend humanity both by countering the Taelon's dangerous actions and trying to help Da'an gain a better understanding of humanity. Under Okie's successors, all of that changed. The Taelons were reduced to more humanlike characters, with Da'an falling into a "good guy" role while Zo'or increasingly became an overt and un-nuanced "bad guy." The idea of using the premise as a vehicle for commenting on the human condition was lost, and the premise became merely a vehicle for action. All the nuance and complexity were lost. All the characters were simplified, retconned, or replaced. I don't consider that the same show at all.

    I'll agree that the back half of season 2 was better than the front half. But it still wasn't the show Okie created, wasn't the story he intended to tell. It was something much simpler and less challenging. Granted, the new showrunners stuck close enough to the original premise that a lot of people were able to buy it as a valid continuation. But to me, the soul of the show was lost when Okie left, and what followed just didn't fulfill the potential of those first dozen episodes.

    Premise isn't everything. If Robert Hewitt Wolfe had stayed, the show would've gone through a lot of changes as it progressed, and the characters' journeys would've taken them all to very different places than where they started. Rev and Tyr would still have left because of the actors' issues. (Keith Hamilton Cobb was only signed for three seasons from the get-go.) The Commonwealth would still have been recreated, just not quite so hastily, and would've ended up in a war with Tyr's new Nietzschean Empire. And so on. But it still would've had the same creative voice behind it and the characters and the ground rules of the universe would've still been the same. It wasn't the change of premise that undid the show, it was the change of everything else.


    Yeah, and Andromeda was just one of the Roddenberry concepts Majel was trying to get made. One was Starship, a project that for a time was going to be made as an animated series and multimedia franchise from Stan Lee's production company, with the showrunner being Space Battleship Yamato's Leiji Matsumoto. That could've been thoroughly awesome, but unfortunately Lee's company went bankrupt and the project fell through. Elements of Starship ended up in DROM in the form of the sentient starship Andromeda Ascendant.

    There was also a Questor Tapes remake that was in the works for a while, but it also fell through. Tribune wasn't involved with that.
     
  16. coolghoul

    coolghoul Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2001
    Location:
    Doorstep of 4, Privet Drive
    I actually think Tribune entertainment was "worse" than what Christopher said. I think they deliberately financed and chose shows that would be appealing and have long-term potential and then after the initial few shows (most of these shows got pretty decent opening viewership - I would even say spectacular Pilot numbers for the most part and got heavy initial promotion) started the deliberate cost-cutting and dumbing-down of it, aimed at maximising the profits by creating shows that were "easy to follow" in non-American markets - the thinking being that other markets required simple good-guys vs. bad-guys with fighting and such every ep.

    While other shows also change show-runners frequently (other network execs aren't averse from micromanaging), I think each time they did it, Tribune cut more money from the show and tried deliberately to "lower" both cerebral and expenses aspect of the show in a systematic manner.

    Some people (wrongly I think) blame Kevin Sorbo or some other people for the Andromeda debacle. But I think it was the company policy as a whole.

    The "corporate scum" that we see lampooned/caricatured in movies - well, I believe they worked at Tribune Entertainment and ran that entire division into the ground while making quarterly profits.
     
  17. Sakrysta

    Sakrysta Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2001
    Location:
    Sakrysta
    This. :)
     
  18. The Habs Fan

    The Habs Fan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    I have no proof of this, but I remember reading recently that Kevin Sorbo said in an interview that it was a bad decision to fire Robert Wolfe.

    I also remember reading something else which said that Kevin Sorbo and Allen Eastman were the only 2 of the 6 Executive Producers to vote against firing RHW, and that the only executives present at the meeting where he got fired were from Tribune.

    On the subject of Andromeda, I'm presently making my way through the entire series on DVD for the first time, and I just finished watching the 4th season episode The World Turns All Around Her. Although there was a noticeable drop in writing quality, characterization, and continuity after RHW left, from the second half of season 3 (basically from The Unconquerable Man) on, the show hasn't been that bad. A little too much action-oriented perhaps and the plot arcs are a little under developed (I thought they killed Tyr off too quickly), but passable. With that said, I haven't gotten to season 5 yet which I heard is an abomination because of the drastically reduced budget so my opinion of "passable" may soon change.

    I'm interested in watching E:FC too, but with only Season 1 available on DVD (or easy to find on DVD), I'll probably wait. I'm kind of mad at myself for scrounging around for Season 1 DVDs of Farscape and paying an arm and a leg for them when all was said and done, only to have the complete series be released a year later. I don't want the same thing to happen with E:FC.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Actually I feel that Andromeda Season 5 is less bad than most of S3-4. At the very least, it was more consistent. In S3, Andromeda was basically two different shows. The episodes written by original-staff veterans Zack Stentz & Ashley Edward Miller (whose subsequent credits include Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Fringe, and the upcoming Thor feature film) were still as close to the original conception of DROM as they could be, an intelligent hard-SF series continuing many of the threads of the first season and a half, while those written by other staffers were something completely different, a lowbrow space fantasy with no clear focus. There was a startling lack of consistency between them. As for S4, Zack & Ash were gone (aside from a couple of freelance returns) and the show was still pretty much a mess overall. I wasn't even watching regularly anymore.

    It's true that S5 was retooled with a shoestring budget and was a totally different show from what Robert Hewitt Wolfe created, a much more fanciful, much less sophisticated one. But since it was virtually a fresh start, with the final staff pretty much leaving all the original concepts behind and coming up with their own, it had more of a consistent identity to it, and if you went in with expectations commensurate with the lightweight adventure fluff they were aiming for, it was actually somewhat watchable. Or at least less deserving of the word "abomination" than a lot of the stuff in the prior two seasons. (The episode that killed off Tyr is probably the one most deserving of that label, for the sheer dreadfulness of it.)
     
  20. The Habs Fan

    The Habs Fan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    I would also put Matt Kiene & John Reinkemeyer with Stentz & Miller as the best writers on Andromeda and seemed to continue the concepts introduced when RHW was showrunner. I think Kiene & Reinkemeyer also left the writing staff after season 3 because I haven't seen their credits in season 4 yet.