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January 13, 2010

Defying Gravity



Defying Gravity is a TV series about a space exploration mission, and about the astronauts life to get on that mission. A lot of the talk about the show focussed on how it was cancelled, however the BBC has now shown all thirteen episodes and I think it's worth forgetting about what could of been and thinking about what was.

Each of the episodes has two time-frames: the training of the astronauts and the actual space mission itself. It's easy to compare it to Lost in this respect but in Defying Gravity the "backstory" feels like a more significant portion, on par with the "present story". Also Defying Gravity had less of the shock reveal aspect than Lost, with the training plot being substantial enough to stand alone. The focus of all of the stories is the characters, their actions, their life, their feelings. It's not a thriller, or an action series, or a mystery series. It's about life as an astronaut, albeit an astronaut on the greatest space mission man has ever undertaken.

Only one aspect of the programme felt unnecessary: the voice-over. Each episode the voice-over would spell out the moral of the story, just in case you weren't paying attention. It was pandering to the lowest common denominator, just in case. I don't know whether it was added by the TV companies request, but I wish they had the guts to let the story speak for itself.

Eventually it is revealed that the true mission of the spaceship is not just a grand tour of the Solar System, but to pick up alien artefacts, one of which had been found on Earth. The artefacts cause hallucinations with humans in close contact. The device of the hallucinations to reveal moments about the characters worked well, although the show seemed to function better before the reveal. I liked the aspect of the crew in space alone, dealing with it, going slightly crazy.

It's an enjoyable TV show, one which kept me watching and made me care about the characters. Forget about the cancellation because each episode is enough of a story to enjoy. Another thirteen episodes may have been nice, or it may have been its ruin. We'll never know, but if you haven't seen this series I enthusiastically recommend watching it.

6 Comments

I really liked this show. There were aspects that annoyed me - the Jen character, for instance, the abortion subplot, and a couple episodes felt a bit padded out - but I'm not convinced I was *supposed* to like Jen, and I agree: the way they worked the backstory was obviously inspired by Lost, but it wasn't at all derivative of it, or immitating it.

I also have to applaud their (mostly) hard science approach to space, even if their ship was rather ludicrously designed. And the liftoff from Venus wouldn't have worked the way they depicted it, but still, they tried. (Love the sets, too. Beautiful.)

And the season/series finale was satisfying.

I'm with you that the show was awesome. I was really bummed that it was canned before it could explain so much of the mystery surrounding the main alien plot line. Any thoughts on what the alien or weird omnipotent power was?

Yeah, actually, I do. Check this out: http://www.republibot.com/content/if-defying-gravity-hadnt-been-cancelled-what-would-have-happened-next

Trevor,

I've got some fairly detailed information about what the second season would have been like, and a few details about stuff beyond that, but curiously there's no solid explanation of what Beta, Gamma, or the other objects were. There was a vague mention from the series creator that implied they had no intention of fully explaining them, and to be honest, I got the sense that the writers never really worked that out beyond "Plot device."

Do a search for "Republibot + Defying Gravity," to find our episode reviews, and the Tags will lead you to details about the abortive Season 2.

Yup. Benevolent God-like aliens from the planet MacGuffin, or whatever. I still feel a bit cheated that I don't get to see Rollie and Eve's mission to Mars in season 2. Oh well...