Science fiction has long suffered at the hands of poorly made media and the inability to convert fans to its polarizing material. Attempts have been made over the years to reinvigorate the genre but nothing has been successful as cult favorites like Star Wars and Star Trek. The biggest culprit in terms of misusing the genre is the SyFy channel. However, the last few years they have done their best to transcend the channel and bring back quality television.
The Expanse is another step in the right direction for both the channel and the genre.
The Expanse takes place far in the future. Earth has colonized, expanded to the stars and formed different cultures. These cultures have created tension, with Mars and Asteroid Belt colonies establishing themselves as standalone to Earth. Unfortunately, the tension has since elevated to near war like aggression from both territories.
While The Expanse features a rather large in scope story, the central narrative is more character driven. One thread has you following Detective Miller (the underrated Thomas Jane) a ‘Belter’ who is tasked with a missing person’s case. This case leads to him eventually meeting former space ship ice miner, James Holden (Steven Strait). Both of their story threads combine with a UN Executive, who is bent on keeping peace between the inevitable warring factions.
If The Expanse had one problem, it is the fact that there is a bit too much going on. While hard to fault a pilot for trying to set up several stories, the overall flow feels a bit bogged down. The biggest victim here is the United Nations story line, as it feels entirely unnecessary (at least at this time).
Thomas Jane has always been a severely underrated actor. Despite not having much time for his character (as he shares a pilot with two other main character), Jane is still lovable and easily distinguishable. It would not be surprising to see him become a fan favorite in this show. Strait and his character, Holden, feel a bit run of the mill so far.
One of the biggest note worthy elements of The Expanse is the scope. Thankfully, SyFy lent quite a bit to the budget here and for a new series pilot, product value is done well. The ships are well designed, featuring solid CG that might be a bar just below Battlestar Galactica. Not only that, but there is plenty of different, unique environments that keep the look fresh.
Sure, The Expanse might not be Star Wars or Star Trek, but it is a dynamic, intriguing premise that is well done. Not only that but the pilot is entertaining, constantly weaving multiple plot threads, that while encumbered are at least engaging.