on 14 December 2006
"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!
on 28 May 2006
I remember when you had to buy this as a VHS froma dodgy man in Australia. This is the TV show that did not get enough seasons, much like Firefly. It's unique style and not to mention realistic feel made it a pure joy to watch. The series had some flaws, but a wonderful cast and interesting characters, from bad-boy Hawkes to goodie Wang (who kind of always reminds me of Harry Kim from Star Trek Voyager), it is a joy to behold. If you like sci-fi, or even military stuff, this is the TV series to invest your money in. You will love the characters, the storylines...and hey, it's only one series, so once you've bought it, you don't have to buy another. The negative side of this is the lack of extras, but with the show being so old, don't expect any.
on 29 November 2005
Why this classic TV series was cancelled so quickly is beyond me. This is an adaption of the same book that Starship Troopers was taken from, although this vision of the future isnt as violent or as fascist the basic story is the same, only the giant mutant bugs are replaced with the robot like Chigs.
The story does get a little disjointed through the season, which is perhaps where it fell down. With the story thats being told here it needed a more linear style of story telling. But it does get better towards the end, the only problem is the cliff hanger ending, which opened up a whole new realm of possibility, was never continued.
The special effects are good for television and the music gives it a true military feel.
So far its only available on region 1 and I dont think there will be enough demand to warrant a region 2 release, so its a pretty safe bet buying it. Despite its flaws, this is quality stuff, if you liked Starship Troopers you will like this.
The show was the creation of James Wong and Glen Morgan, trading off the heat they were producing from their sterling work on The X-Files.
Set in 2063, the show follows the adventures of the Wildcards: a rough, tough land, sea, air and space combat squad serving in the war between mankind and a mysterious alien race dubbed the Chigs. Stationed on their huge spaceship USS Saratoga, the troops embark on thrilling missions, either as ground-based infantry or in their Hammerhead fighter planes, which can operate in Space and in the atmosphere of planets.
It turns out humans have just come out of a long and bloody war with their own Humanoid robots-gone-bad, the Silicates, who have collaborated with the new alien enemy. What's more, there are these artificially gestated humans around: the In-Vitros (Tanks or Nipple Necks, to use the Vernacular, almost like a racial epithet in the show) who are rapidly developed then "born" at the age of 18. One of the main Wildcards, Cooper Hawkes, is one such being. Everything about the In-Vitros is brilliantly handled: they are often naïve in their outlook, yet angry at being treated like third-class citizens. Hawkes finds himself uneasily becoming part of a tight team after years of shunning human contact.
Occasionally, traditional battle tales are cleverly updated for the advanced outer space setting: in one episode, the Wildcards send a captured enemy fighter on a surprise Trojan horse mission, as they believe the Chigs have no equivalent tale in their lore; similarly, a Chig pilot comes to pose a Red Baron-style threat to the humans. Vernacular
Wong and Morgan's clout meant the show was handsomely back dropped, rumored to have cost around $1m an episode. The special effects may now look like something from a low-rent video game, but they get the job done. Clearly influenced by Starship Troopers (the novel). Five seasons were planned, yet only one was made - an enticing glimpse of what could have grown into something truly great, shame on the `BLANK' network for cancelling this great show.
on 16 June 2012
S:AAB follows the fortunes of a squadron of Marine Aviators in the near future where mankind fights a war for survival against a superior foe. Aliens, Androids, Cloning and Space Battles S:AAB has it all.
From the writers of the X Files (it even has David Duchovny as a Silicate) it was only allowed one series but directly led to the Battlestar Galactica Reboot
Well I've been waiting for this for at least a decade and finally Space: Above and Beyond makes it to Region 2. The CGI does look pretty dated (It was originally created back in '95) but the plots, writing and acting are as sharp as I remembered.
Don't bother with the 'Pilot Episode' DVD as this set contains it. The box set contains 6 discs and a multitude of extras.
Take a Chance (To quote the Silicates)
If you want to know more try [...]
on 15 July 2012
I am not going to review the series or the DVD for people to make up their mind as to whether they want to buy it or not as there are some fantastic and informative reviews already on-site.
What I want to do is to just say that I have just bought the region 2 set having owned the region 1 set for a long time, never believing it would ever be released on R2. I was a little concerned when reading one review regarding the aspect ratio as I did not want this series to be ruined by cropping it to a 16:9 picture, but as there was only one review that stated it was actually 16:9 I assumed an error and bought the R2 set anyway.
Thankfully it is in fact in the proper aspect ratio of 4:3, NOT 16:9. I think the person who wrote the review must have had the TV or DVD player set to one of the modes that does not correctly switch aspect ratios - in fact some DVD players don't do it at all as if you tell it you have a 16:9 TV it will stretch everything.
on 8 March 2006
This sci-fi was cut short and lasted only the one season and on a cliff hanger at that. It is a very good show and a great pity it was never continued one way or another, however, seeing it released onto DVD is very good news.
If you like something a little different and original, purchase this, it will be well worth the money you spend!
on 26 August 2013
This is one of those series that should have been allowed to grow. When you watch it you can believe it is the prototype for the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series. A cramped claustrophobic setting, almost monochrome colour scheme, harsh lighting, lots of facial close ups and introspective dialogue.
The series followed the exploits of a young group of marines called the Wild Cards aboard a space-going aircraft carrier called the Saratoga. As marines they are called upon to fly fighters as well as battle on the ground. In one episode they even fight in cramped tunnels like the Cu Chi tunnels in the Vietnam war.
The team consists of 3 men and 2 women, one of whom rises to become their captain. All have joined the marines for different reasons, all have different backgrounds but all are bonded together in the heat of war against an unknown and superior enemy.
Created by X-Files alumni Morgan and Wong SAAB was unfairly dubbed Melrose Space because of its youthful good looking stars but it went way beyond explosions and a few toothy smiles. The characters grew and showed their strengths and flaws. You got to learn their stories and see their humanity. The plots are frequently inspired by old war movies and events but add in dark conspiratorial X-Files overtones. We never really get to know the enemy which adds to the suspense. The Earth people are obviously less than perfect and we see that some figures in government and big business have less than honourable motives which casts doubt on whether we are the good guys or not. Throw in the racial intolerance towards the in-vitro humans and the complications added by the duplicitous AIs and you have all the ingredients for compelling story telling.
The set and craft design was top notch although the CGI was lacking compared to Babylon 5. Maybe the effects would have improved if there had been a second series. That's not to say the effects were terrible, merely serviceable for the time when they were filmed.
This box set includes the pilot film which follows the recruitment and training of our heroes. It even has the splendid R Lee Ermey as the drill sergeant. James Morrison deserves mention as the squad's hard ass CO Colonel T C McQueen. Despite being an in-vitro loner who lives for the corps he develops an affection and protectiveness towards his charges that really shines through. Tucker Smallwood is perfectly cast as the blues playing hard bitten commander of the Saratoga and there were an array of guest actors plucked from the world of TV to play one-off and recurring characters. No overshadowing the stories with big name guests in this series.
The set also includes a documentary on the series tech, lots of stills and some cast interviews from 1996. Not a lot but I guess it's tough to find material for a single series cancelled 17 years ago. I'm just happy to get a region 2 box set, I've waited years for one to become available.
Watch the show, enjoy the stories and don't get too hung up on the effects. Most of the time you won't even notice that they're a little creaky.
on 27 March 2012
My god - after pleading with 20th Century Fox for years to get this series relased on DVD, my prayers have been answered. I consider myself a fan of the show, so cosider this review to have plenty of Spoilers and pleanty of reminiscing...
Setting the scene, in 1994 The X Files was a juggernaut of thelevision and two of it's best writeers were James Wong and Glen Morgan. In 195 theywere given a chance to create a series they had been writing for years. It was extraordinarily expensive, and frightfull difficult to produce, but (at the time) the fledgling Fox network 'took a chance'.
Very often described as Top Gun in Space, the analogy is a correct one. They created a mythology and world around the concept of war with an alien species called the Chigs. SPOILERS - Aerotech, the mysterious company with sights on extending the war, The Chigs claiming that we began the war by landing on theri territory - SPOILER ENDS - all the mythology gave depth to a series of characters that in the pilot are two dinemsional, but by the end of the series are fully fledged characters that not only do we care about, but actively root for. SPOILER - Considering the finale, even more so - SPOILER ENDS
Stand out episodes: 'Ray Butts' the story of a marine commander who lost all his squad in battle, bringsd the 58th squadron on one final mission to bury the dead. 'The Angriest Angel' - Colonel TC McQueen's obession with bringing down Chiggy Von Richtoven. 'Hostile Visit' - chig technology lands in the hand of the Marines and they use it to, well practice a hostile visit. The second part puts the 58th as prisoners of war. 'Who Monitors the Birds' - the most enigmatic character of Cooper is developed beautifully in a near silent episode of the series as a soldier tapped behind enemy lines, he remebrs his violent upbringing as a 'tank'. 'The Enemy' - the chigs use a psychological weapon on a planet, increasing the paranoia and fear of marines already serving on the battlefield.
Due to cost and low ratings the show was cancelled after one season, but a fan community lives on.... and for once they have been placated.
The shows influence can be seen in recent gritty military science fiction dramas, most notably the recent Battlestar Galactica reboot.
On a very funny point of the show - the Hammerhead Space and Atmo fighters in the show were manufactured in China, and one crew mwber who worked on the shipping container beleived them to be real military aircraft, posting pictures online (in the early days of the interweb) of China's new fighter aircraft....
All in all, worth buying, the show has NO chance of ever being brought back, without an actof god, but watch the show... the special effects are also something special.... these were 1996 CGI, and to be honest, while early episodes look a little video gamey (by todays standards) later episodes rival some of the bewst that Hollywood can pull off today.
At the cost of nearly $2.2 million an episode, the effects should be good.
I would go on about the acting, writing and direction of the show, but then I would just rattle on forever.... buy it, watch the show... and like Firefly, imagine what could have been...
on 17 April 2012
Got this on Region 1 a while back, but the quality was poor, the discs are two-sided (I HATE THOSE) and there are zero extras. About time this criminally underated show made it to Region 2.
I raved about this series in 1995, but I seemed to be in a minority as genre mags slated it and some sci-fi snobs dismissed it as 'jingoistic' (Hey, if we want shows about non-US people saving the world, maybe we should actually MAKE ONE rather han whinge about the yanks doing it!).
They rather missed the intent of SPACE: ABOVE & BEYOND. It's more a war series set in space as opposed to a full-on science fiction show, and it's primarily about how that war affects the people trapped within it rather than the gung-ho flag-waving some accused it of. A great cast settle into their roles quickly (Rodney Rowland as Hawkes is the standout) and slog their way through 23 grimy, gritty and realistic episodes 10 years before the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA remake even got off the ground. Nobody is safe in SAAB, as the shocking events of the final episode demonstrate, and humans are ultimately portrayed as being culpable for the events we see througout the season. The enemy Chigs are kept deliberately ambiguous for much of the run so that the emphasis is totally from the perspective of the 'good guys', but there are few 'good guys' here.
But, falling ratings and the cost of the then revolutionary visual effects scuppered any chance of a second season, making the downbeat finale all the more difficult to watch (in a good way). SAAB became an almost forgotten footnote in sci-fi TV history, with only die-hard fans (like me) clinging onto their fuzzy off-air Sky recordings. Maybe now it's gone digital it'll get the audience it deserves.
I do urge anyone curious enough to want to 'sample' the show NOT to just try the pilot that's being given a standalone release. It doesn't show the series at it's best... better to dive in and give this set a go and appreciate how strong the season-long arc was.
Best episode? WHO MONITOR'S THE BIRDS... possibly one of the best episodes of sci-fi telly I've seen.
Oh, and special mention for the epic score by the late Shirley Walker. If you enjoy the show, try to track down the 3-CD limited edition of the complete soundtrack... well worth it for fans.