For anyone who enjoyed the Space Opera, Battlestar Galactica, then The Expanse is aimed directly at them. But does it live up to the glory of its predecessor?
Battlestar Galactica had me riveted from start to finish. The quest was clear and the stakes for humanity were high. The characterisations were developed at an early stage, and the director had clear visions as to how the characters would play out. I look back on them fondly. Edward James Olmos’ William Adama was a refreshing new type of captain – quietly intelligent, battle-hardened and reflective and comparatively older than his counterparts in previous space operas. His mature reflections and deep loyalty to humanity’s sole survivors rank him as my all-time favourite science fiction ship’s captain.
I have so far watched three episodes of The Expanse and therefore, you may argue, I’m not yet in a position to make a reasonable comparison between the series. However, the first three episodes are make-or-break for any viewers and is the most defining time as to whether the viewers will choose to invest hours of their free time watching it.
The Expanse is without a doubt ambitious. The effects are stunning. The premise is strong. We have an understanding of unrest between Earth and Mars, and there’s a space station on the asteroid belt where the nations of each planet derive their resources. The people who live there are called Belters and we develop an understanding that they are treated scornfully by the planet dwellers. A fedora-wearing detective is investigating the disappearance of a daughter from a wealthy family on Earth and at the same time seems to be involved in the space station politics, even, whilst in a bad mood, threatening a political demonstrator. I have had my hearing checked and it’s thankfully normal, but I’m finding the mumbling of this detective hard to follow.
In another arc, a space mission replete with crew with stereotypical space ship, high testosterone persona on a mission to retrieve ice from Saturn responds to a distress signal. They find a dead ship and send five crew in a shuttle to investigate it. Their mother ship is attacked leaving just the five crew on the shuttle as survivors.
In another arc, a terrorist is being investigated by the administration on Earth.
Without a doubt, the story is going to unfold and delight its fans with plot twists and great effects. Where I’m struggling with it, is in its failure to present the stakes in its early episodes, instead relying on world-building as the initial hook. The intense and macho acting of the male actors is a put off for me, but I’m sure there are many who appreciate it. I imagine if I knew The Expanse characters personally, I’d become exhausted in their presence within minutes. I know many soldiers, truly hardened from seeing action, who don’t exhibit such in-the-face personas. In my experience of many years of studying martial arts, the most deadly of its exponents are often humble people.
“….mumbling dialogue seems to be on the rise…”
Maybe it’s a modern phenomenon from Hollywood, but mumbling dialogue seems to be on the rise. It was never present on Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek or great space opera movies such as Star Wars or Alien. Maybe I’m just behind the times.
In essence, I’m finding The Expanse a struggle to watch, which is a great shame because I’m told it will unfold into something excellent.
Can somebody persuade me to carry on watching it?