Episode Reviews (2)
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Nothing special but an ok slice of 90s TV SF.
This was a series I was never able to see on first release as it was carried by Sky in the UK, which at the time had a small market share. I remember it only ever got so-so reviews, but it always held a spark of interest. I'm watching this as seperate episdoes, so as this was originally a feature length episode I'll put my review of both together in the second part. I understand it's over 15 years old too, so I'll try and judge it fairly as a product of it's time, but a lot of very good SF series have been and gone since then raising the bar far higher.
First impressions are that the production levels are pretty high - nice effects work and sets, great looking locations (if obviously North American), but it's trying a little too hard to be family entertainment, with cute kids, cute aliens and robots. The look of everything reminds me a great deal of the 90s Outer Limits, not particularly a good thing. Story-wise it's standard pilot set-up mostly, nothing too outlandish. There a few interesting SF ideas tossed in - relativistic effects, etc, but it doesn't linger on these. I'd liked to have seen more of what they were leaving behind - the space stations, the state of the Earth, but that's me. The struggle to survive and the implication of other humans on the planet brings most of the direction to the series.
The kids, as in any tv show and particularly SF, are as annoying as you'd expect. Morgan is such a cardboard cut-out "Burke," never mind that the actor is so over the top - that he has a relatively nice wife makes it all the more bizarre. The goose-stepping robot is quite terrible too.
Sorry if I haven't bothered to catch everyone's names yet, but 'Concerned Mom' seems ok, as does 'Unprepared Doctor', 'Broken Leg Pilot' and 'Engineer Dad.' The most interesting character is Yale, with the unexplored implications about his re-wiring. Everyone else is just so much background.
Kudos for making the cutesy small alien kill someone (in self defence, I would have been way more impressed it was evil), but the confrontation is pretty laughable. Also making the somewhat scary looking Terrians not the bad guys (although they do kidnap small children 'to make contact,' after already talking to Broken Leg Pilot) was a twist I wasn't expecting from this fairly middle of the road show.
The appearance of a dishevelled Tim Curry right at the end brings nothing but disappointment, as I'm sure he's going to ham it up as the shows bad guy from here on out.moreless
The second half of the pilot episode. The story moves from the back story of who they are, to what they need to do to survive on this alien planet.
Now that they know they aren't alone they have to decide how and if they are going to move forward, as there are families on their way. True is still hiding her new found "pet" from the rest of the group, only to have it stow away on the rover O'Neill and John are going to use to try and hunt down the thing or things that took their stuff. Unfortunately for O'Neill his shoot first ask questions attitude costs him big, it cost him his life, when the tiny little creature stung him with its claw.
Soon the camp is visited by two new beings, creatures who freak everyone out. I'd have to say the costume and makeup for these aliens were refreshing, compared to the old traditional alien costumes of the Star Trek era. These things looked like real creatures, not just someone with their face painted blue. When they take off Zero discovers Bess and Martin coming toward the camp.
That night Martin tries to spin his story of how hectic it was during the escape, and how he wasn't to blame for the pod releasing itself, but how glad he was that no one was trying to get in. Now this whole time he is telling the story you can see John just wants to thrash him, cause he knew the truth. And honestly as a viewers I wish John would have done it.
The kids are taught a tough lesson of life and death on this new planet, and Yale makes them promise they will stay clear of the little creatures from now on. Well as kids will do she didn't listen and decides to take her "pet" out in the woods to let it go, not knowing that Uly is right behind her. A fight, of sorts, happens between them and Uly gets knocked off his rover. True is able to find him just in time to see him get swallowed by the ground, well the Terrians under the ground.
Then there was Devon and Alonzo working in the Dream Plane in an attempt to get him back. This was a nice part to the story, it just seemed a tad bit rushed. She finally agrees that she will do whatever they want if she can get him back. The full detail of the deal won't be told until later in the season. On getting him back they discover he is healed, and this gives the group the drive to move forward on their journey to their new home.
And as the group is moving forward, we see a lone stranger standing on a hill top. He watches as the others move on. You are left with the question of who is this man and will we ever see him again.moreless