"Space" was an ambitious effort by Fox to create a sci-fi action adventure series that could compete against one of the Star Trek shows. The action takes place in 2063 when humanity has expanded to operate in space and two small colonies have been created on other worlds. A hostile alien race with superior technology suddenly attacks, destroys the colonies, kills many of the colonists, and abducts the rest of the colonists. Earth finds itself in a war against the aliens where initially, they take heavy losses.
A group of new Space Marine recruits is hurried through training to be ready to defend Earth from the aliens - known as "Chigs" from a faint resemblance to the chigger bug. The first half of the movie is similar to old war movies where a group of young recruits is beaten into shape. The history of each of the five main cadets is quickly covered, and they're all likeable people. The high stakes in the conflict give you the feeling of WW II in space.
The special effects are very well done. Fox spent roughly US$2 million per episode and the production values show it. The space combat scenes are exciting and visually gripping. The writing was excellent and inventive. Some episodes have a classic war movie feel and others are more like thrillers. One episode is a very dramatic mix of near silent operation on an enemy-held planet by a lone marine on an assassination mission interspersed with eerie flashbacks to his Orwellian conditioning as a newly "born" in vitro human. Two of the best writers from "The X-Files" created the show, and David Duchovny shows up in a very memorable episode. There are hints running through the show of a corporate conspiracy in the war that probably would have been explored if the show had been renewed for another season.
There is some background to the plot that it helps to understand as you watch the show. Earth has a space-based military that has been used to defend mining operations, etc. against attacks from the "Silicates", a group of humanoid robots created as a workforce. They remind me of the humanoid Cylons from the remade Battlestar Galactica because other than their eyes they look human and they come in multiple copies of different "models". The Silicates eventually rebelled and fled into space. They periodically get into skirmishes with the humans. Another source of conflict comes with a set of engineered humans called by the slang name "in vitros" or the derogatory name "tanks". They're normal humans that were grown from test tube babies to the age of 18 in artifical storage. Once they're removed from the storage tanks, they're put through an intensive training process to socialize them (essentially brainwashing). They represent a new group of people that suffer from discrimination and are starting to receive civil rights protection. They're being integrated into the military and not everyone is happy about it. Some viewers in the U.S. thought the show could get a bit preachy on occasion, but the civil rights angle made for some interesting sub-plots.
I waited a long time to be able to buy the series on DVD in the US. I'm glad to see it has been made available elsewhere. It lasted a full season in the U.S. so there's 23 episodes including a double length pilot. Unfortunately, it was poorly scheduled at 7 P.M. on Sunday nights against the "60 Minutes" juggernaut and the start time was regularly pushed back by late-running football games. The show was performing better in the ratings than its Star Trek competitor (Deep Space Nine), but the costs were so high that Fox wouldn't wait to give it a chance to develop a larger audience.
Alas, there are no special features, and Fox issued the set on the cheap. The discs are double-sided so be careful in handling them. The video quality seems excellent. Enjoy!