First of all, it’s time that someone stepped up and told gravity to go screw itself. I’m tired of walking on the floor. Maybe sometimes I want to walk on the ceiling. In the new sci-fi drama Defying Gravity the eight characters who have been chosen for a six-year mission around the solar system have that luxury. Lucky bastards.
they’re the ones in grey here
Now, the two descriptions of the show I see floating around most often are “eight astronauts go on a six-year mission around the solar system” and “Grey’s Anatomy in space”. One makes it sound like a boring Discovery-channel documentary with terrible fake CGI cinematics and the other makes it sound like a chick show with the depth of the teaspoon. In reality, it’s neither.
Defying Gravity is a genre-crossing show that you will probably like if only you would bother to watch an episode or two. Or you can click below and let me tell you why you should watch.
Each episode intercuts the “present day” (where we follow both the astronauts on their mission and the personnel down in Mission Control)…
to boldly go and all that, Houston
…with the “past,” where they’re all together training and competing to be chosen…
it’s like astronaut school
…deftly weaving the scenes thematically around that week’s core concept (like making tough choices or overcoming an obstacle), including tonally-appropriate music in place of “I am having an emotion, let us spell it out for the viewers so the writers don’t have to rely on my acting” discussions with each other.
Including both timelines serves the dual purposes of making the characters more complex and circumventing the fact that it would be next to impossible to introduce new characters onto a ship millions of kilometers from Earth.
There’s the engineering issues and day-to-day astronaut awesomeness for the nerd crowd, complete with believable-sounding scientific mumbo jumbo:
their ship even looks like an ipod on the inside
There’s the personal/relationship issues and emotional baggage that everyone has regardless of whether they’re a garbage collector or a rocket scientist:
“That’s it. I’m taking a personal day.”
There’s the mystery of not really knowing where you’re going, what you’ll find when you get there, or even what’s going on in your own head.
“Why am I floating through the airlock naked in this dream?”
And they’re intertwined in such a way as to create a total picture of what it’s like to be involved with a long space voyage. The engineering problems are metaphors for the personal issues and the personal issues exacerbate the engineering problems and everybody’s got an opinion on the issues, from abortion to religion. So in its parts it’s Grey’s Anatomy and Star Trek and Lost but as a whole it’s a lot more.
It’s about having someone you can trust to pull you through the tough times.
so you can have cute moments like this
It’s about feeling like a part of something bigger.
“Boy, Earth sure is a long way away.”
And about the loneliness of being left behind.
I love shows where I can’t figure out who my favorite character is, not because I don’t care about any of them (sorry, CSI) but because they’re all so fascinating/maddening/mysterious/adorable. Who will it be this week?
tragic American hero Maddux Donner (Ron Livingston) and his love square?
ass-kicker BBFs Jen Crane (Christina Cox) and Zoe Barnes (Laura Harris)?
the extremely capable yet emotionally scarred Dr. Evram Mintz (Eyal Podell)?
Steve Wassenfelder (Dylan Taylor) and Ajay Sharma (Zahf Paroo), nerdtastic science boys who are 12 and a half going on Yoda?
Rollie Crane (Ty Olsson), the CapCom whose wife is on a six-year mission with her ex?
crazy Paula “Puke” Morales (Paula Garces) and her cute classroom in space?
or Eve Weller-Shaw (Karen LeBlanc) and Mike Goss (Andrew Airlie), who are obviously not telling us everything?
There are definitely some detractors of the show out there, most of whom come from the so-called “hard” sci-fi crowd, who seem to think that unless a story is set in the year 20 billion (Defying Gravity is set in the 2050s) or in another galaxy, the onus is on the writers to explain every single thing that goes on using only today’s knowledge of physics.
They bring up things like the lack of a time delay in the Antares’ communications with Earth, the gravity mechanics, that the astronauts are wearing libido inhibitors (called HALOs), and the fact that the ISO (international NASA equivalent) seems to reward obedience more than ingenuity, as evidence that the show is “unrealistic” (which equals bad in their books.)
I dunno about you, but if I was in space, I would totally trick-or-treat
To those people I say, the ISO isn’t NASA. The radios are probably not actually radios, and if you think you can put eight people into space for a year and not have them humping like bunnies out of sheer boredom, you need to have your head examined.
a scene from every camp, school, ship, organization, and street corner in the world
I’m a “hard” sci-fi fan myself, but I’m sorry, but if Star Trek or 2001 is realistic then my left foot is the governing body of Papua New Guinea.
Make-believe science (e.g. transporters) and magical forces (e.g. monoliths, the force) are the ubiquitous explanations for things on other sci-fi shows/movies/books…
it just DOES THINGS, okay, because ALIENS made it
…and I don’t see how that’s asking you to suspend your disbelief less than a show that has its characters using floor-attracting nanotechnology outfits and magnetic hairspray whenever they’re outside their spinning living quarters.
The only show that’s avoided such “realism” bickering among viewers is Battlestar Galactica (the new one) by the simple expedient of not explaining anything at all.
“Quick! Someone push the ‘go’ button!”
Every show has its glitches (what, they could re-grow Worf’s spine on Star Trek: the Next Generation but not Captain Picard’s hair?), so what it all comes down to is: does the show suck you in enough that you don’t care when you notice these little blips? In Defying Gravity’s case, my answer is a resounding yes.
The worry in the States is that ABC, who airs the show there…
and loves to slap its logo all over everything
…will cancel the series, because it’s been being juggled around the schedule due to low ratings. Fortunately, whatever dumbfuckery the American network gets up to, it doesn’t have the sole voice in determining whether the show sticks around. It’s a co-production between the USA, Canada, Britain, and Germany, so hopefully less-idiotic heads will prevail.
As for you, go and do your part to keep Defying Gravity around. Click on over to CTV.ca or ABC.com (depending on where you are) to watch full episodes online and register on the networks’ web traffic tickers. Then watch in on TV to boost the ratings.
If we want shows like Defying Gravity instead of Gimmicky Cop Show #412: a New York detective teams up with a Native American shaman who controls tornadoes, or Reality Show #5,284: we put some assholes in a house with no forks and see what happens, we need to do our part to help it stay alive. I just did mine by telling you about it. Your turn.