Archive for September 21st, 2009


Defying Gravity: An Apology

September 21, 2009

Dear Science Fiction fans:

I would like to offer an apology on behalf of my homeland, Canada, and myself, for the mistake that was the television series Defying Gravity.

When I first heard about it last year, I predicted that it would be okay. I liked the cast, I liked the premise and I am a firm believer in quality Canadian television programming (We kind of have to be; it’s actually in our Constitution).

And I liked the pilot. I liked it a lot. The producers took some chances, choosing to set the program several decades into the future, but making no modifications to clothing or personal technology. Camcorders — a handheld figures prominently in the first few shows — look like camcorders I could buy at Wal-Mart tomorrow. Fashions and hair look like today’s. That’s something Battlestar Galactica did well, and after a while fans ignored the Earthisms and followed the story.

But I cringed when I watched how gravity was being handled. The crew of the ship is on a multi-year tour of the solar system in a sleek, cool spaceship. No faster-than-light here; this is “real science.” Vasectomies for the male crew are mandatory, and that was a nice touch. However: there’s no gravity on the ship. The crew wears these jumpsuits wired with little magnets or something that make them stick to the floor. Okay, that’s almost believable … but nothing else floated, either. The crew just moved around normally. It was a cheap attempt to bypass a scientific shortfall with some sci-fi gobbledygook without sticking to it.

That’s when I started to get a bad feeling. But by the end of the pilot, I was interested; it was well shot, well acted and had a hint of mystery. Like Lost, there’s more going on here than space travel. It started to take on a Sunshine feel, and I loved Sunshine.

Episode 2 made me crash back to Earth. They were calling it “Grey’s Anatomy in Space” for a reason. By the halfway point of the fourth show, I was done. I turned it off and never looked back.

It seems I wasn’t alone. While it isn’t official, networks are issuing those cryptic press releases that make it clear the show is done. This bothers me less because of the show, but more because I’d like to see Canadian shows running on US networks and succeeding. I just wish we had some better ones to send down, folks. Americans cannot live on DeGrassi and Littlest Hobo alone.

So, another science fiction show burns up in solar orbit. Unlike quality work like Firefly, though, Defying Gravity ended because it just wasn’t watchable. It was a romance show made by people who might know romance shows, but didn’t get the sci-fi aspect of it, and that’s the kiss of death. Any hope of crossover appeal was lost.

There are more new shows on the way: V, Flash Forward, this latest new version of Battlestar Galactica, whatever that is … still, I remain glad I have most of Star Trek on DVD.