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Some have commented that compared to (the newer incarnation of)
Battlestar Galactica, SPACE: ABOVE and BEYOND pales in comparison, or
at least that's the feeling I get. That's partially true if you watch
BSG then go back and watch SPACE: ABOVE and BEYOND later.
You have to look at SPACE: ABOVE and BEYOND in the time frame of when it was made. Up to that point in time, sci-fi programs, usually had good writing and acting. For example, Star Trek had excellent story lines, but even for it's drama, there was a sense of levity. When SPACE: ABOVE and BEYOND came out, the closest comparison, in my opinion, would may be ALIENS if only for the sci-fi/action/drama/military similarities.
What SPACE: ABOVE and BEYOND had going for it was pretty decent writing, well-developed characters and at the time of it's inception, good CGI (for t.v.). It suffered the same fate most (NOT ALL) shows of the genre have when put on the networks, they just can't seem to find an audience, especially when you put them up against programs like FRIENDS, SEINFELD and FRASIER.
I think another reason Also SPACE: ABOVE and BEYOND didn't do well, was because the stories were grittier and the characters were abrasive and not as likable (upfront) as on other sci-fi programs. That doesn't necessarily mean they didn't have depth or someone you could identify with (as BSG has proved recently) but, when lumped in with all the sitcoms and other shows of the time, it just didn't fit in well. Who knows, if SPACE: ABOVE and BEYOND had been produced on the Sci-Fi Channel, it may still be on today or at the very least had a much longer run.
I found this show rather enjoyable. It is slightly similar in someways to Star Trek (batten the hatches man the cannons; shields up charge phasers) in some ways with the crew attending "away missions" but focuses on the use of carriers and war as opposed to battleships and exploration (space films are likely to have strong influences from naval history). The acting, plot, scripts aren't of the highest quality to appear on screen but good enough to tell the story. I particularly enjoyed the fact that unlike other Science fiction serious, this one is much more plausible. Partly due to it being set in the same galaxy/local star system and not too far in the future. Its influence from historic conflicts also contributes to this. It's much closer to home. I expect that's why we see so many "beach landings" and air raids as well as commando operations. I wish more science fiction programs would try this as many seem to end up in very distant places and times with far to many alien life forms. I thoroughly liked how the alien's form is hidden and kept a mystery for most of the series. In terms of physics and what is known today like most space programs this is somewhat inaccurate, but convinces me more than most other series. It has some interesting parallels with battle star galactica, but I'd have to say it's better, although I liked battle star galactica a little. At least it's not Voyager/Farscape (ick) or Enterprise/Excalibre (ick ick).
SAAB had enough story elements and character evelopment that the show could
have gone a long way. I'm not sure quite why it was cancelled after only
twenty-something episodes, but I suspect money was the main
A shame really, as the show had great promise and much more believable characters than many other shows. What's more it was different from the run of the mill sci-fi shows going around at the time.
A lot of the actors from here can also been seen making guest appearances on the X-Files, not least because the producers of both shows were the same.
In the end, though, the ratings won out and the show was stopped. However, I suspect its one show that will be doing the re-run circuit for a very long time to come.
When a friend recommended me a classic SF series, I was excited. The
story of some soldiers defending Earth somehow promised a lot. But I
don't think I've ever been more disappointed with a series. It was bad.
It had a lot of potential, but never delivered. I started calling it
the "almost"-series, because it was almost cool. Almost good. It almost
had a good ending, good characters, a good story. But it didn't.
After half the series I really didn't expect much anymore. But it still managed to disappoint me. I just kept watching because I wanted to know how it ended. It had to get better near the end, right? Hardly.
It's tempting to suggest how this show could have been much better, but I won't. I'll just point out why I (and my brother) didn't like this show.
The acting is decent at best. The characters are not interesting enough and there is almost no character development. Two or three go through some changes at one point, but that's all. Overall, they lack something that you just expect marines to have: attitude. Our heroes are supposed to be the best of the best. Yet they run around like some school boys playing with toy guns. Did the writers of the show really think that shouting 'booyah!' every now and then would make them cool enough? The script has a lot of potential, but never achieves full glory. Some of the story lines are truly glorious, but somehow they managed to mess up most of them. Either the acting is subpar, the music suddenly stops when it needs to be dramatic as possible, or the characters utter the most silly and cliché words imaginable. The aliens are uninspired and lack intimidation. You need a lot of imagination to see something else than suited people. Every episode consists of a short story, but it only takes a while before you realize none of them seem to matter. Nothing big ever happens. They're sent out on a mission, run into trouble and barely make it back. They receive a medal and that's the end of the episode. With some notable exceptions, you might as well watch the first 2 and the last 2 episodes of the whole series.
I understand that it holds a lot of nostalgia value for many people and I don't mean to offend them. There are some pretty good episodes, but they could have been so much better, even for the mid 90s. Most episodes are just not worth it.
I had to go through a lot of trouble to find this series. I had to go through a lot more to finish watching it. o through in order to finish it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a far cry from ST:TNG or B5, but comparing it to the latter two
is not fair since this is not a true science fiction TV. Having
spaceships and aliens do not make it a science fiction, because the
science/logic/rational part is seriously lacking, for example: -- Space
is big, how do they travel between star systems? At the start of the
show something about wormhole is mentioned, but never adequately
explained. And they made a big deal about how hard to travel to other
star systems, but later they do that like a piece of cake (and the
carrier visited the colony planet in the 3rd or 4th eposide, even
though they said missing the launch window would mean a 5 year delay in
the pilot) -- How could anyone survive a uncontrolled reentry when the
colony ship is attacked? There's no escape pods, everyone along the
ship would burn up in the atmosphere. -- The AI is just stupid, why do
they make noises when they communicate via their modems and thus gives
away their position? I can turn off my PC modem's sound with a click of
button. -- If you're trying to use a deadman as bait, you'd better make
sure the cause of death is the same as you're trying to let the enemy
to believe. Are the generals of united earth so confident that advanced
aliens couldn't tell between a guy dead from lethal injection and a guy
dead from ship crash? (And how can the ship/paper survive anyhow, it's
another uncontrolled reentry and possibly crash landing) At least they
did it right in WWII.
In the end this is really just WWII in space, a TV series about war, not science. But I doubt they can sustain a TV series based on war alone, it would just get boring, seeing them going to battle everyday. The show does try to balance this out with some other plot lines, like Aero-Tech conspiracy, but these plot lines are not very deep or interesting.
This series struck me as not really being SF at all, despite
trappings (spaceships, an alien race, silicates, etc.) - it was "American
Marines in Space", where the enemy, instead of being
"Japs" or "gooks", were "Chigs".
It was full of contradictions, like a squadron of only 5 pilots who were nevertheless commanded by a full colonel, implying they were an important resource - yet those same pilots being risked as infantry in ground actions!
Similarly, West had to train for 5 years for the colony project, then was bumped at the last-minute to make room for an in-vitro on the ship, with the near-certainty of never seeing his girlfriend again. This implied that interstellar travel was very difficult and expensive - more so than planting colonies in the New World was in the 17th century. Yet later in the same episode, we saw the US space navy casually deploying carrier battle groups across interstellar distances, which completely contradicted this!
Finally, they again made the mistake of having fighter spacecraft (the Hammerheads) which handled exactly the way that aircraft do in atmosphere (mind you, this is a common error, seen in Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, etc. It is only the truly wonderful Babylon 5 which has got the physics right in this respect). In one episode, we even heard them being compared to the Chig fighters: "Their planes are faster, but ours have a greater rate of climb" - this is meaningless in open space, where what matters is accelerability and delta-v.
An aside: why do so many American productions find it necessary to caricature the British, viz the British infantry major alone with his tank on one planet?
All the same, I did enjoy the episodes I saw - it just failed my test of being good enough to record and keep permanently.
I watched this on its first UK run back in the late 1990s, and thought it
was simply appalling.
The pilot episode is a bad (and I mean bad) mixture of Full Metal Jacket - it even steals the real star of that film: R L Emery - and Starship Troopers. It removes all the harshness and profanity, and substitutes it with dreadful dialogue and wretched acting. As for the 'Angry Angels' -- well, try 'Slightly Miffed Fairies'. Never has a squadron minced about the place so effeminately!
The one character/actor to emerge with any kind of merit is Rodney Bewes as the 'Tank' Hawkes. At least he has a little depth. The rest of the cast are poor shadows of real people. Vanson... text-book tough female, straight out of the 90s-writer political correctness manual. West is mopey and irritating. And so on.
Sadly, things don't get any better as the season goes on. It's a catalogue of bad writing, directing and acting. The final few episodes attempt to add some kind of conspiracy into the mix in a desperate attempt to add some interest. It fails miserably.
The whole show is a charmless mess.
I loved this show, but to the reviewer who chose to bash Star Trek in
the process... as one who saw the original when it was originally
aired, I can say that you should consider that without Star Trek, SAAB
might never have been made! Whatever else you might think, the original
Star Trek did the most that could've possibly been done with the
technology and special effects of the time. They had to make up with
talent, what later shows were able to disguise with fancy effects.
No other science fiction series but Star Trek continues to have it's following. There is, to be sure, plenty of room to praise SAAB without slighting any other series. Star Trek changed the way we looked at the future, it's legacy is secure!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I used to love Space: Above and Beyond when it premiered in 1995. I
tracked it across the FOX schedule and followed it into obscurity after
only one season. Not that long ago I managed to grab a copy of the DVD
on sale at Amazon. And, while its still pretty decent as far as Space
Marine Sci-Fi goes, it doesn't hold up well after thirteen years.
The writing and direction still holds up for the most part. Most episodes ring with cheesy notes plucked from T.V.'s COMBAT! and John Wayne Era World War II movies that still work today as long as you don't go in expecting Battlestar Galatica's ripped from reality examination of humanity.
Where Space: Above Beyond fails is twofold.
The Special effects don't hold up at all. Your average Nintendo Wii game can produce better space combat action, and for a T.V. show that hangs so heavily on effects the "Wing Commander 3" graphics are distracting.
The acting also completely fails the show. Outside of James Morrison, and to lesser extents Rodney Rowland and Kristen Cloke, the acting from the rest of the cast is just plain BAD. Particularly Morgan Weisser as Lt. Nathan West ... who plays a battle hardened Marine pilot ... who ... pines constantly for his girlfriend and simply whines far too much to be believed as anything more than the guy who would get shoved in a locker by the real Marines. Not the shoulders to really place a major Network T.V. on. The Writers seemed to realize this about halfway through the first season as "Space Above and Beyond" shifting the lead role onto James Morrison's T.C. McQueen.
"Space Above and Beyond" is still pretty good Sci-Fi, but not great, and the years and the emergence of the new "Battlestar Galactica" hasn't helped it much.
This show had a fairly healthy budget by the looks of it, and also
had detailed writing. The computer-animated images were pretty
impressive for TV back in 1995(Lightwave 3D, anyone?).
The series really leaned heavily on all of the military jargon and
hardware, which reminds me of another good point: the sets,
such as the interiors of the ships, were first-rate. None of the actors who played the "Wild Cards" were really
well-known. I only saw fresh-faced Morgan Weisser in one other
program, an episode of Quantum Leap, in which he played an
aspiring rock guitarist in 1966 in a small town(check him out with
long hair!). I wished the writers had developed the "chigs" more. Those
bad guys didn't get a whole lotta background. Maybe said writers
would have if the show had lasted longer. Oh, well. The best TV
sci-fi show will always be the original Star Trek, in my opinion.
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