March 04, 2018

I Have Been Wrong

For two years now, the SyFy Channel has been running a show called The Expanse

During those two years, I did not watch it. 

This was a grievous error in judgement on my part which I only recently rectified. 

Now, having purchased both seasons on DVD and having watched every single episode (some twice), I can say that this is a remarkably good show. 

The Expanse follows the crew of the Ice Freighter Canterburry and its crew of working class stiffs as they do their mundane, difficult and absolutely necessary work of hauling ice from Saturn to the frontier metropolis that is Ceres.

Despite a limited budget, the show makes considerable nods to hard science, both with its depiction of spin gravity...

OK, actually, that implies a much smaller spin radius than that location should have, but hey, coriolis!

...and the pernicious effects of its absence. That and a myriad of other little sciency details are remarkably realistic in their depiction and well handled plot-wise in this show, which follows Josephus Aloisius Miller, a cynical, somewhat corrupt police detective on Ceres. Saddled with a 'wandering daughter job' he makes a series of discoveries that blow upon the dying embers of his conscience and idealism threatening to rekindle them both. This could be a fatal affliction on Ceres. 

Despite a SyFy channel budget, Ceres, a major waypoint between the inner and outer solar systems just works as a sort of Noir Dodge City, if Dodge city were a company town where one had to pay for air.

Where The Expanse really breaks the mould is in its setting which ought not to work but does. This, after all, is a show about the Byzantine  day to day intrigues and machinations of one Chrisjen Avasarala, a 70 year old, high level bureaucrat  in the Earth government who uncovers a vast conspiracy. This unlikely protagonist is brilliantly portrayed by  Shohreh Aghdashloo, who just knocks it out of the park. 

Space opera generally requires visually spectacular space battles, which do not comport with scientific realism or SyFy Channel budgets, The Expanse solves both problems by remarkably good writing and pacing. While certainly not super accurate it does have an internally consistent and realistic looking way of portraying space combat, as is to be expected from a show that revolves around a plucky group of Martian Space Marines, and their blood knight squad leader who their ship's captain is trying to keep from starting a war. 

Having now watched the 23 episodes that make up the first two seasons I can say that this show is at least as good as Babylon 5, and that's not something I say lightly. 

Now of course the show is not without its faults, the biggest one being that season three has not started yet.

That looks like it will be rectified on April 11.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:10 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 I really need to get B5 on DVD or something, but so many of the sets looks like either pirate editions or collections from remainders.

The Expanse yeah, has picked up a lot of the good hard science beats. (Railgun round piercing the whole ship neatly in particular. Well, not too neatly for the guy in the way of it....) The one thing requiring suspension of disbelief is the "Protomolecule" McGuffin.  

Posted by: Mauser at Sun Mar 4 19:10:46 2018 (h8yX6)

2 I just found out last week that is streaming B5 for free--don't even need to create a login.
They're owned by Verizon, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Rick C at Mon Mar 5 12:07:26 2018 (h8yX6)

3 Cool. Although It didn't play on FireFox, apparently they insist on some DRM thing being enabled. Gonna have to play with it a bit.  

Posted by: Mauser at Mon Mar 5 19:42:51 2018 (h8yX6)

4 Ah, had to update the DRM plugin. Re-watching the first episode is like visiting an old friend.  

Posted by: Mauser at Mon Mar 5 20:39:33 2018 (h8yX6)

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