Tonight we get a new British SF series on BBC America. How was it? Click here and find out.
Ah. You clicked. Good for you! So how was the show? It wasn’t *bad* per se, there’s nothing I could point to and say, “Wow, that sucked.” On paper, if I was reading a pitch for this, I think I’d find it promising. In fact, when I first read about this series last year, I thought it did seem promising. And, yes, there is still some promise in the premise here, but, well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed.
The premise is fairly straight forward: At some point in the future, there’s been a nuclear war on earth that has rendered it unlivable, but not all at once. After the war, an evacuation effort was begun, and the survivors - all of them apparently British, and one token French broad - escaped to the planet “Carpathia,” where they’ve set up a colony for the last remnants of mankind. Eventually this rag tag fugitive fleet - yeah, you see where I’m going with this, right? - kinda’ whittles down to nothing, and they go years with new boatloads of survivors turning up.
Making the Galactica comparisons more apparent, this episode stars Jamie Bamber, who played “Apollo” in the recent reboot of Battlestar. He plays a scout who, in the early days of the colony, found water and food and stuff like that. He’s married, he’s got a kid named Linus, and a wife who’s spying on him. His wife - a cop - has been asked by President Tate, the elected leader of the colony, to do so because her husband is nuts and is planning a coup of sorts. Her husband, Mitchell, finds out about this and bludgeons his wife.
Meanwhile, the first refugee ship in five years appears, but owing to rather stupid plot contrivances to ratchet up tension, there’s a strong chance the ship won’t survive re-entry.
Meanwhile, Fleur - a cute Scottish girl - and Cass are sent out to bring in Mitchell, who’s kidnapped his own son, and is heading for the wilderness. Fleur was Mitchell’s wife’s partner prior to the bludgeoning. This time it’s personal. But as this is the first episode, and we really don’t know any of these characters, the personal nature is lost on us, and, frankly, not terribly convincingly played out. They’re attacked by something in the woods at night, but nothing much comes of it. Meanwhile, Mitchell kills his son.
Fleur and Cass meet up with Mitchell, and after claiming there’s things they don’t know about President Tate, and threatening to kill Cass, Fleur shoots him and he dies. Jamie Bamber, ladies and gentlemen! How about a big hand! Thanks for tuning in, thanks for being a sucker: he’s just a guest star they put in the show hoping you’d be interested enough in the characters to continue on with the series after this. Fleur runs to Mitchell’s tent and finds Linus who - surprise fake out that’s not at all surprising - is not dead after all.
Meanwhile, the ship explodes on re-entry, but a few escape pods get out, one of which is carrying….Jamie Bamber! Yep, that’s right, his fake out death was a fake out. In fact, he’s a malevolent clone, kinda’ like the malevolent clone species in that other TV show he was in…uhm…what was it called again? Man From Atlantis? No, that wasn’t it…It’ll come to me.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right: The End.
Anyway you slice it, this show feels derivative and overly familiar right out of the starting gate. Let’s see: you’ve got earth destroyed in a nuclear conflict, a’la BSG; you’ve got the evil clones a’la BSG; you’ve got the last remnants of humanity upon whom the future rests, but who don’t seem to be able to focus on that reality and instead just run around being dicks, a’la BSG; you’ve got an SF premise that is largely ignored in favor of “Human Drama,” which, again, mostly consists of people brooding and/or being dicks, a’la BSG; and you’ve got Jamie Bamber a’la Law and Order UK. No, wait…I mean a’la BSG. You’ve got an idyllic, exotic, yet mysterious location, a’la Lost, and you’ve got secrets and lies and wheels within wheels a’la Lost, and you’ve got an entirely earth-like world that we’re told it’s hard work surviving on, despite the fact that it’s entirely like earth, a’la Earth 2, Lost