Defying Gravity (TV, 2012)
A review from SFX #233.
2009/15 /38 mins
Director: Fred Gerber, Sturla Gunnarsson, Peter Howitt, David Straiton
Writers: James D. Parriott, Sheri Elwood, Meredith Lavender, Marcie Ulin
Cast: Ron Livingston, Malik Yoba, Andrew Airlie, Paula Garces, Florentine Lahme. Karen LeBlanc, Eyal Podell, Laura Harris, Dylan Taylor, Christina Cox, Ty Olson, Zahf Paroo
THREE STARS EXTRAS: TWO STARS
This TV show deserves to be liked. It’s so earnest. But it’s like an introvert at a party – a little distant, and well, boring. SF TV demands extroversion.
Charting a near-future voyage to the nine planets (it was made before Pluto was demoted), Defying Gravity takes a Grey’s Anatomy approach to astronauts, with the SF-y twist of a telepathic something in a pod secretly running the mission.
Defying Gravity was cancelled after 13 episodes. Neither factual enough to be enlightening, nor SFnal enough to be entertaining, Defying Gravity goes to lengths to establish some scientific truths, yet the astronauts are all head cases, and messages zip over 30 million miles of space in an instant, allowing endless heart-to-hearts between parted lovers.
Is it a romance show? SF? Realism? All and none of the above. The characters mesh well, even if they are unsuitable as astronauts, but the series makes the fatal error of playing the long game with them. Nothing happens. We get to one planet, Venus, right at the end. Many SF series save money with tense “bottle episodes”, but this is one long bottle series, barely enlivened by its accidents of the week.
Real astronauts are rock-solid, thoughtful people. Introverts, actually; competent, capable, modest and highly intelligent. This show is not enough of those things.
DVD Extras: Picture gallery, deleted scenes, documentary. The doc’s a preview where the actors are all excited, and tells us nothing of how the story would have progressed.
Did you know?
Peter Howitt, that’s Joey from classic 80s sitcom Bread, features as a prying Brit journalist in the show, and directed three episodes.