Spielberg's team set about recreating the Wild West in space.
Studio: Amblin, via MediumRare Entertainment
Time: 21 Episodes, 1056 minutes
Region: Region 2 (others not known)
In the near future, the Earth can no longer support life and the human race lives in orbiting space stations, but the artificial air weakens billionaire station designer Devon Adair’s young son. Like many children on space stations, he is suffering from The Syndrome, which means he is likely to die before he reaches nine years old. Adair (Deborah Farentino) sets off with a brave band to colonize G889, a planet very much like Earth, in the hope that real air will save him.
However, their craft crash-lands thousands of miles from their target of New Pacifica. As several hundred more colonists are on their way, arriving within a year, Devon’s team has to cross that terrain by foot in time to set up the Eden Project ready for their arrival.
That premise offered a virtually blank canvas for drawing plotlines when NBC aired this series in the mid-nineties.
It is easy to see how this series appealed to America, with its re-telling of the Wild West story and creatures that owe much to Spielberg (whose Amblin Entertainment produced the show, but without his direct input).
The two-part pilot episode boasts all the effects needed get a series aired, but struggles to build interest, as it has so much background to set.
However, once the pilot is out of the way, things move faster, and the first major story features Tim Curry at his most manipulative and creepy as Gaal. It turns out that these explorers were not the first humans to invade the planet – and why did they crash land? Are there shades of Lost?
It takes quite a while to get to know many of the characters and there are hints of a Hollywood approach to family-friendly sentimentality at times, but this series has several things in its favour.
Unlike Star Trek, the heroes are not all on one mission, with one aim. When their transport crashed it took with it the hired crew as well as those who signed up for the trip, so tensions soon surface between different characters with their various motivations. Also, some people reveal earlier deceptions as the series progresses.
Helping us to get to understand the personalities, diverse characters narrate the start and end of each episode, so we begin to understand how they think.
Reminding us that these people never really experienced Earth as we do, we see their delight when they get rained on for the first time, as if something mythological has come to life.
The native species include the Terrians, creatures from a Dr. Who knackers yard, who can only communicate by dreams; Grendlers, who are like a cross between humans and rhinos; and little ET-like creatures, who are not as cuddly as they look.
The series was clearly developed to progress to a second season and it is a shame that this investment was not honoured, as it plainly had so much potential. Earth 2 should appeal to an audience wider than just sci-fi geeks.