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January 23 2016

SyFy's 'The Expanse' is the best space show since Firefly. While most of us here probably did watch Firefly as it aired, here's another show worthy of your time during this era of Peak TV.

I've tried to like the show from the start, but I can't get emotionally involved in the characters. They feel like mice racing around the maze built by the writers of each episode. And the plotting is rather arbitrary.
Have a dim recollection of hearing about this show - will give it a fair shot in the next couple of days and report back here, if anyone is interested.
I love this show so far. Very rich world and complex characters.
@altchbee-It's based on a book series. The worldbuilding is dense but deliberate. Haven't read them myself but I know that Avasarala isn't in the 1st book which explains the plotting with her at least.

@brinderwalt-Go ahead! Episodes 3 and 4 are a pretty good double punch to see if it grabs you by then or not.
Are there any good streaming options? I tried to watch the first episode on SyFy.com, but it wants to confirm my internet provider, and that didn't seem to work in my area. Same for Hulu.
It took me three attempts to watch the first episode, but I'm glad I did. This show is intense and absorbing. It's more like Battlestar Galactica than Firefly, but better than the former (which is pretty hard to do). It's must-watch TV for me.
The Expanse started off pretty well, got incredibly good around episode 4 and I thought it was on the same level as DS9 or Battlestar Galactica. But the most recent episodes have been a bit meandering and feel like "and this is how we must move the plot along".
The Expanse is absolutely not Whedonesque in any way.

It's also hilarious they place it just 200 years from now with the UN of all organizations in charge of earth and other planets colonized. Really takes away all immersion in the fantasy. Maybe 2000 years or an alternate reality. Huge writing mistake when any scifi series tries to tie itself too close to the current day.
Having read (and greatly enjoyed) all the books, I have been a bit surprised at how languid the plot movement has been. But they are doing a fine job of rendering the source material into a new medium.

No-one will ever mistake this for Firefly (and it's not trying to get anyone to do so) but it's excellent space opera nevertheless. I just wish SyFy had had this kind of budget to work with when they did the Dune series.
@Tara - I'm not really getting that. Star Trek took place (at the time) roughly 300 years after then present day.

At a certain point, you either allow the writers their conceit or you don't. I love Firefly, but what are the odds the rest of the world is just fine with America and China running everything at some point? It also tends to present a sort of liberal nightmare version of US policy which I'll certainly buy for fiction, but I always have to conveniently forget how terrible the US public would ever be for doing anything like that.

I'm always a weird one to talk about largess regarding conceits though, because while I'm really nice about world building, I tend to shred the MCU constnatly.

I think I've just come around to the idea that if you like the story, you tend to forgive the leaps. If you don't like it or didn't want to like it, you probably won't. And here's where I justify my MCU thing with I used to like it but their content creation model (and fans whinging about DC/grimdark) began to bore/irritate me.

I need new at this point. Desperately. And I love variety so any time a writer wants to take me on an adventure I'm game...until I'm not.

[ edited by azzers on 2016-01-24 21:15 ]
Science fiction is constantly putting things too close. It's not the exception, it's the rule. Just read a bunch of sci-fi from the 50s and laugh at all the things they expected to happen before the year 2000. Sometimes they got things right, but there were a *lot* of things that we're still nowhere near.

I think they often want the future to seem close. The farther away something is, the more disconnected it is from us. Sometimes this feels a little silly to me, but I've never let it stop me from enjoying something.
@azzers Firefly was 500 years in the future which I feel is more plausible for what it shows vs 200 years in Expanse.

But the UN is notoriously powerless, meaningless and corrupt, it could never be in charge of the world politically and militarily in just eight generations which is why I find it a fantasy-breaking choice. Also completely colonize mars and it also becomes a military superpower in just eight generations? Really?

I guess the author just didn't want to invent a new organization. The hybrid USA/China mixing-pot Joss came up with feels believable, he also shows the 'verse churning in human chaos which "feels right" given our nature.

ps. I finally remembered what Expanse reminds me a tiny bit - Blakes 7 - overly advanced ship, ragtag "outlaw" crew, etc. But I guess a lot of scifi does that theme.

Expanse not an unwatchable series, don't get me wrong, but it is certainly not "the best space show since Firefly".

[ edited by TaraLivesOn on 2016-01-25 00:10 ]
But the UN is notoriously powerless, meaningless and corrupt, it could never be in charge of the world politically and militarily in just eight generations which is why I find it a fantasy-breaking choice.

Really? You say "just" eight generations, but the UN has existed for less than half that time. Think about where the world was and what the dominating forces were in 1815. The concept of anything like the UN was still 100 years away. I don't know that it's fair to deny categorically the (speculative) premise of the show based on your own lack of faith in the present-day UN.

That said, obviously if you're not connecting with the material, that's fine. I was so-so on the pilot, which is all I've seen.
"SyFy's 'The Expanse' is the best space show since Firefly"

It really isn't imo. I have just stopped watching the show after 6/7 episodes as I realised i really couldn't care less about what happened to anyone in it. It looks alright, and episode 4 was quite good, but I found it all rather dull otherwise.
If you want to give this show a shot, pick a night and watch episodes 1-4. Amazing. I thought the latest Star Wars had more Firefly references/inspiration than the Expanse. I would compare this more to Battlestar Galactica. Bleak, even more bleak, and visually stunning.
Um, no. I don't like kicking around a show but if you expect Firefly level of awesomeness, you aren't going to find it. The character's are far less layered and compelling. So far I only find Amos interesting. The plot is far more convoluted. The science is non-existent (a guy took off his helmet in space and held his breath, so yeah absolutely no understanding of science). It's not Firefly in really any way except people in space, but hopefully the pace of the writing will pick up and it will still be worth watching.
Tara, 200 years is actually a lot of time. Australia is only a little over 100 years old as a country.

Our technology progresses in leaps and bounds. How long ago were cars invented and revolutionized travel? Planes? Smartphones? I think 200 years is credible to colonize another planet. Travel to Mars is likely writhin next couple of decades. If we have a jump in technology as humans are prone to do, we could have very rapidly advancing space travel. Ie if the em drive turns into something really useful. If we crack FTL travel, anti gravity fields, etc etc.

That said I find the show quite dull. Only watching coz hubby does.
@corinna - I think largely they're just apples/oranges in terms of show type. The Expanse, if its related to anything is going to be more GoT-based than anything.

But Firefly being a for TV production really works on character in every episode. There's Mal/Zoe stories, Jayne stories, Kylee stories, etc. The Expanse basically has "The Story" with character work occurring in itty-bitty doses throughout it. It's not going to conform easily to Joss's style for seasons which is often theme based with a metaphor behind a specific story.

The one thing I think the Expanse might actually do better on would be something like GoT, which is realize when certain characters don't need to be in the show for an episode and maximize the most interesting elements of the primary story. Essentially, like an artificial Robert Baratheon/Cersei conversation, manufacture the most compelling TV character moments you can back into the the narrative. The plot is written and can take care of itself.

[ edited by azzers on 2016-01-25 19:46 ]
If anything on TV is trying to be the next Firefly, it's Dark Matter. While obviously not as well written as Firefly, it has moments where I genuinely get the same warm feeling I had watching Firefly. Particularly when the ragtag crew is laughing around the dinner table like a family. They are both action comedies that are oriented around various jobs, with a larger mystery arcing over the season.
I didn't watch Dark Matter, but Killjoys is actually pretty good and does feel close to Firefly in some respects.
The Expanse is Better in my opinion than Killjoys, but less close to Firefly in most things.

Tara, as was said before. think about the world of 1815 compared to todays world. Back then there were no Arab countries, no Germany or Italy as we know them today.
Or think about how much North America was colonized between 1600 and 1800.
Or think about how the state of Israel wasn't even dreamed of 5 generations ago.

Also - Star Trek: Enterprise was set only 150 years in the future.
I second the recommendation for Dark Matter. At first I thought it was a little cheesy and I'd get tired of it. Then my interest kept going up a little more each episode. It's like an ultimate case of taking the worst people in the universe and making them likable.
BSG is a better comparison than Firefly and since BSG came after Firefly it should be best show since BSG
Uh, wasn't everyone saying this same thing about Killjoys last year? Oh and many other shows before that?
It gives me a vibe somewhere in between the new Battlestar Galactica (post 9-11 sensibilities) and Babylon 5 (Earth/Mars/Station Politics) - which is no bad thing at all as far as I am concerned. It took me 3 episodes to really get into it but I'm liking it so far.

I agree with some of the earlier criticism here of feeling a bit plot-railroaded. I think part of the reason for that is only starting to get to know the characters (backstory etc.) 8 episodes in. It's a little like beginning in media res and not actually pausing to catch us up for weeks.

Definitely the most *potential* of any recent space show in my opinion though.
Instead of agreeing or denying Expanse is as good as Firefly (which is so ridiculously subjective as to be a complete waste of time), I'll just appreciate the fact that Firefly is still considered the gold standard for all scifi shows over 13 years later. Yay Team!
Just finished episode 3.

Overall? not too shabby. Best "space" show since Firefly? Don't know about that. Perhaps the most comprehensive faux-hard-sci-fi effort undertaken on television since then, but - three episodes in - I already have my doubts about how long that will last (all those cool little moments taken to acknowledge subtle environmental things like the need for magnetic boots to latch onto the floor when your ship looses inertia? Already disappearing half way through episode 2.)

Also - to somewhat echo what others have said - this show is a straight-up space opera, which is just another way of saying that the story has no sense of humor, which is most definitely not a Fireflyesque trait.

With all that said, it's managed to survive the Brinderwalt 3-Episode Pass/Fail Test, so I'll be sticking with it for the time being.

Ideally there's a stop-over at the Ceres Crossroads Bar and a dance contest somewhere in a near-future episode, but I'm not gonna hold my breath.

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