Earth 2
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Earth 2

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A perennial favorite theme in science fiction has always been the colonization of other worlds, mankind searching for a new beginning away from our planet Earth. In 1994 a television series came on the scene that was intelligently written, well acted and professionally produced, Earth 2. Naturally, the studio in all its wisdom appeared to do everything possible to destroy the show leading to its cancellation after only one season. The series begins in the year 2192. Earth has been ravaged by ecological disaster; pollution has all but destroyed the water and air, disease running wild through those left on the planet. Those that could afford it where able to move to one of several space stations, the poor would have to tough it out on the ruined planet. A planet is discovered some twenty-two light years away called G-889 and an expeditionary flight is planed to colonize it. Due to the long distance involved the brave people would have to be placed in cryogenic hibernation to survive the long years of travel. Two hundred and fifty families, about a thousand in total make the journey to find a hope for survival and life on the unblemished planet. The world government is opposed to the flight and when they intercept a newscast concerning a major explosion on one of the space stations the group leave before the planned time, waking up orbiting their new home. The plan is to establish several settlements around the globe of their new home dubbed, Eden or Earth 2. As the send their supplies down a second sabotage is discovered and the rush to safety is on. The small group of survivors have only a matter of months until the main group arrives on the planet.

Devon Adair (Debrah Farentino) is a strong willed woman who quickly becomes the leader of her group of settlers after the death of the shipís captain. Although born to a family rich enough to live on a space station she came to Earth 2 in hopes of helping her extremely ill son, Ulysses "Uly" Adair (Joey Zimmerman). Joining them are the pilot, Alonzo Solace (Antonio Sabato Jr.), a doctor, Julia Heller (Jessica Steen) and her sonís teacher Yale (Sullivan Walker). Also found in the group are John Danziger (Clancy Brown) and his pampered daughter True (J. Madison Wright), a government company man, Morgan Martin (John Gengenhuber) and his very attractive wife Bess (Rebecca Gayheart). As the group explores their new world they discover that they are not alone. Not only do they discover numerous species indigenous to the planet including the subterranean humanoid Terrians and a somewhat intelligent Grendlers. As the group searches for New Pacifica, a location that was reported to be perfect for settling, alliances begin to form. Danziger is motivated by the protection of his young daughter, akin to the feelings that drive Devon. The passive teacher Yale turns out to be an criminal imperfectly mentally programmed by the government. Space pilot Solace finds the company of aliens favorable to that of humans. He is isolated even in his sleep due to his dreams where the Terrians contact him.

The cast for this series was excellent. Debrah Farentino is as talented as she is beautiful. She has a long list of credits mostly on the television side of the business. She portrays her character as resourceful, strong and determined to forge a better life for her and her son. Farentino is completely believable as the ad hoc leader. Antonio Sabato Jr. is a handsome leading man type, going on to being one of the male leads on Melrose Place after this series. He gives his character an angst that is real not the usually forced television series emotions so many shows settle for. Clancy Brown is a huge, powerful man that gets to show a more emotional side here. While he usually plays the heavy, just watch his work in the first Highlander film or the late lamented series Carivale, here he is a man overly devoted to his daughter. The way this is presented is this is his response as a father to the circumstances instead of just being too week to stand up to her juvenile demands. Farentino is not alone providing the audience with strong female characters. Both Jessica Steen and Rebecca Gayheart give their all to roles that give an excellent stage for their attractive looks and acting talents. This ensemble cast has the chemistry necessary to make this series work. The way they portray their characters makes you almost forget it takes place on a world 22 light years away. This is vital to the quality of the series, it may utilize science fiction to set the parameters of the setting but the stories and acting are human, emotionally connecting with the audience.

Some standard themes are presented in the series, ecological ruin, a corrupt and harmful government and parental protection of their offspring. While many series have taken on these topics few did so with the flair of this show. This series almost parallels the fate of another well done television science fiction series, Firefly. It was badly programmed, often placed after Sunday night football which made the starting time a guess for anyone. The network was hasty in canceling this series. Many series, especially those in the sci-fi vein, take some time to get rolling. There were a lot of episodes required for the exposition of back stories and character development. Now, it appears, if a series can not get the right numbers in the first few weeks it is doomed no matter how well done it is. This is like reading the first chapter of a literary work and dismissing it as too slow moving.

While quality series such as this where treated badly on television DVD once again comes to the rescue. Again, like Firefly, we now get to have the entire series on DVD. Universal has been releasing season and entire series sets for awhile now and their vaults contain some real classics. The video is in full screen and is overall well done. There was some breakup in the night scenes but nothing major. The color palette is significantly better than most broadcast shows. The Dolby stereo audio exhibits a somewhat full audio spectrum although there is not much in the way of channel separation. For extras Universal provides a run of the mill blooper reel and some deleted scenes that are obvious as to why they didnít make the final cut. There is also bonus episodes of Cleopatra 2525 and the third season of Sliders, titles that are being released as the same date as Earth 2. For those that where fans this is an absolute must have, for the rest this is an excellent way to get to know a great series.

Although the presentation of the episodes correctly reflects the air dates the last two are out of order. Episode 21, 'Natural Born Grendlers' has Bess and Morgan finding a geo-lock which becomes central to the story in 'Better Living Through Morganite', episodes 12 and 13. The last episode on disc four, 'Flower Child', should correctly be much earlier in the season. The actual last episode is number twenty, 'All About Eve', which sets up the cliff hanger for the season which was unfortunately never resolved.

Posted 7/22/05

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