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post #1 of 7 Old 08-03-08, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series - DVD Review

"In space no one can hear you scream ...
...Unless it is the battle cry of the United States Marines!"



Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 5
Rating:
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
Run Time: 1032 minutes

Cast
58th Squadron aka Wildcards

Morgan Weisser — 1st Lt. Nathan West (USMC), callsign "King of Hearts"
Kristen Cloke — 1st Lt. Shane Vansen (USMC, promoted to Capt. in ep. 1.18), callsign "Queen of Diamonds"
Rodney Rowland — 1st Lt. Cooper Hawkes (USMC, InVitro), callsign "Jack of Spades"
Joel de la Fuente — 1st Lt. Paul Wang (USMC), callsign "Joker"
Lanei Chapman — 1st Lt. Vanessa Damphousse (USMC), callsign "Ace of Hearts"
James Morrison — Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius "T. C." McQueen (USMC, InVitro) callsign "Queen 6"

Notable One-time Characters

Coolio - The Host
David Duchovny (uncredited) — Alvin El 1543 aka "Handsome Alvin" (Silicate)[3]
Dale Dye, Capt., USMC (ret.) — Maj. Jack Colquitt (USMC)
R. Lee Ermey, GySgt., USMC (ret.) — Sgt Major Bogus(USMC)
Adam Goldberg — Sergeant Louie Fox
Richard Kind — Colonel Burke


The year is 2063. Mankind has been exploring space for over 100 years and have begun to extend their reach into deep space. The human race has yet to encounter any alien life forms, and based on that and perhaps our arrogance, we felt we were alone in the universe and free to lay claim to any hospitable planet we encounter.

This would soon change when a Tera forming expedition on the Vesta colony is annihilated in a seemingly unprovoked attack by a hostile alien race. Mankind finally knows we are not alone, and our new neighbors don't seem to like us very much at all.

Space was a TV series that came and went, blink and you missed it but this is something worth taking a look at. Glen Morgan and James Wong, both writers and producers on the X-Files, were given a chance to break away from the hit series and try something on their own. What they created was a unique, intertwined, and sometimes dirty and gritty series about our not to distant future.

Many things were addressed in Space Above and Beyond, one of which is our prejudices against others that are different. Not only do we immediately go to war with the aliens, there is an ongoing subtext about racial discrimination on our own planet. It seems that in 2063 mankind has eliminated its prejudices and discrimination towards other humans, however we still have a long way to go. The Invitros, or 'Tanks' as they are called in a derogatory manner know all about how we as a race can be very prejudice. The Invitros were 'born' in tanks, hence their nick name, to fight our wars and do our dirty work. Although they are very much a living being, they are treated as sub human and denied the same rights as natural born humans.



The story opens with Nathan West and Kylen (not a worthy enough character to have a last name), two young volunteers for the space Tera forming program who are also young lovers with dreams of building a new world together. Politics though put an end to that dream by passing new human rights laws in favor of the Invitros. The politicians decided that part of the Tera forming crew had to be made up of Invitros to show the government doesn't discriminate. Naturally our young couple is told only one can go and the other has to stay behind. Nathan enlists in the United States Marines in the hopes of somehow reuniting with his lost love.

The setup may sound sappy, but it works. Space ends up having a lot of influence in the making of Starship Troopers, but without the camp and satire. It also borrows from such classics as Full Metal Jacket as is seen when the newly enlisted marines arrive for boot camp. Their drill sergeant is no other than R. Lee Ermey, GySgt., USMC (ret.) who recreates his tough as nails character DI Gny Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket. Ermey was born to play these roles, mainly because he's the real deal and was a marine in the Vietnam war, and then a real boot camp drill sergeant- so he definitely knows the banter and routine.

The series is laced with many cameos by other big names such as David Duchovny and others, including Coolio, if anyone really remembers him. It is fun looking for and seeing some of the familiar and big names that show up now and then, but the regular cast provides strong performances and don't need the gimmick of star cameos. Still, it's fun and works, which is all that counts.

Productions values are quite good for a television show. Because of the nature of an episodic TV series things have to play out over a longer period of time than in a big screen movie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This give the writers and director more time to develop characters and story lines that go much deeper than any movie can go into.




The show revolves around the first year of the young fighter pilots in the Marine Corps’ 58th Space Aviator Calvary Squadron, better known as The Wildcards.

While in boot camp news reaches Earth about the attack on the Vesta Colony and the young marines have to quickly become seasoned fighters. When the ace squadron The Angry Angels are completely wiped out when they try to engage the alien aggressors, the Wildcards are called into action and their youth and innocence is lost in the horrors of war.

As I mentioned racism as well as other negative aspects of human behavior are dealt with. Even the series ending and why the aliens attacked us is an example of our arrogance and ignorance about life in general. To explain that would ruin the surprise if you missed this series so I'll just say let everything play out as you watch the series.

The show was canceled after one season, which was a shame, but when the word came that the series was being canceled, the writers and producers went out with a bang. It may not be a satisfying ending, but it is probably as realistic as life and war can be, even if it's Sci-Fi.










Another thing I liked was it wasn't total CGI. In fact the Hammerheads the Wildcards fly had full size cockpits built and there were even several full size mock-up planes built. The Hammerhead fighters used in the series were created in Australia at RAAF Base Williamtown. Being a full size fighter mock up they weren't easily transported around, and since they couldn't actually fly they had to be brought from Australia to the US. They got their travel plans alright, onboard a US aircraft carrier! The Hammerheads were so realistic looking that they drew interest from a Russian trowler, aka a spy ship, who even took pictures of the Hammerheads, thinking they were a new kind of advanced U.S. tactical fighter.




As the series episodes progress the character development continues to evolve and the story line and sub-plots are done very well. When the series ended I wanted to see more and I honestly cared about the characters and their sacrifices. All in all it was one of the better television series produced in my opinion and trimmed down it could have been a big screen movie, or two.

Video
Space Above and Beyond is presented in its televised aspect ratio of 1.33:1 for its release on DVD. The video transfer isn't perfect and shows some softness, but the grain indicated it was shot on film and not video like a lot of series are done. For a series done in 1995 it holds up well even with a sometimes less than perfect transfer. Still it looks good but I wish it was in wide screen, but back then that wasn't something television even considered doing.

Audio
Audio tracks include English, Spanish, and French Dolby Surround audio tracks with optional English and Spanish subtitles. Most of the sound takes place in the front channels because once again, we're talking about a series that is now 13 years old and not many television series were given the full treatment of Dolby surround. There are a few surround channel effects but nothing really worthy of noting. This is really what separates it from a full blown big screen production.

Extras
The extras and commentaries are also sparse, and could even be said to be none existent.
The only extras to be found are a few television commercials for the series, which become mundane rather quick. The menu system is pretty plain too but easy to navigate.

All in all this feels like a much more mature series than its single season suggests. Many TV series need a season, even two sometimes before they really find their groove and the characters really start to develop. This is one season, and I am sure they had hopes of more than that, but right out the gate they showed this was top notched and with fleshed out characters and story arcs.

It even fits in with Aliens and Starship Troopers (again minus the camp and satire) and even seems plausible. Like I mentioned earlier, it addresses the fact that we as a race are not perfect but also shows how we can also learn to accept even things we don't fully understand.

What makes this even more appealing to take a look at is... ready? The complete series for only $18. I just picked it up at Sams Club today. I couldn't pass it up at that price. I remember this series with fond memories and even though I haven't made it through the entire series on DVD as of yet, I am not disappointed and it stands up to the test of time.

With a declining economy and rising gas prices, high priced series are not exactly doing well, but for under twenty bucks you can get the entire series of 23 episodes, including the two part pilot episode as one full movie on five DVDs.

out of five. If the audio was true surround and the transfer was a bit better I would give it a 5 out of 5 even though the extras are lacking.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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post #2 of 7 Old 08-05-08, 09:27 PM
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Re: Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series

this looks pretty cool

is it just like on season or is it a mini series?
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post #3 of 7 Old 08-06-08, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series

It's one season, but I guess you could call it a mini-series because when they got word the show was going to be cancelled they wrapped up all the story arcs by the last episode.

I'm on the last disc now and I forgot how good this show really was. It is written extremely well and the FX don't take over the story line (are you listening George?!)

After watching this show again, this very well may be the best Sci-fi show to hit TV.

It has elements of the old TV series Combat, and in some ways ranks right up there with much newer and bigger budget fares like Band of Brothers.

Some may not like this because of how it ends, but if you keep in mind we are at war, it's probably more realistic than a sappy ending where everyone gets what they want.

Unlike Battlestar Galactica (old or new) this isn't just X-Wing style fighters dogfighting every week. There are ground missions, recon patrols, and even some special ops.

All the main characters are fully developed. One possible 'weak' link is the dreaded Star Trek 'red shirt' syndrom- meaning sometimes it's easy to tell who's going to die, but even then they do it so it's not over the top obvious.

No TV show is perfect, but this one comes close.

If you like combat flicks and Sci-Fi, for the $18.88 price for the entire series, you can't beat it. Oh, there are five discs, but they are double sided, so it's actually ten sides.

Except for the last disc, they kept it down to two episodes per side. For reasons unknown they put six episodes on the last disc, four on one side and two on the flip side. Video still looks good even with four one hour shows on one side.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

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post #4 of 7 Old 08-20-08, 01:33 PM
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Re: Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series

I remember that show! I liked it when it was out and I forgot all about it. It came out during the time when sci-fi shows were all the rage. There were like three flavors of Star Trek at the time and X-Files was just getting popular (I think). There was even a couple of other sci-fi shows... one is was just like Deep Space 9 but had nothing to do with Star Trek.

Those were some good shows thanks for reminding me of it. I'd definitely like to rent these and check 'em out incrimentally.

Wayde
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post #5 of 7 Old 08-20-08, 03:18 PM
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Re: Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series

I had just added the series to my NetFlix queu and the review peak my interest enough to move it to the top of the list. Thanks for posting it.

Bob

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post #6 of 7 Old 08-24-08, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series

Quote:
Wayde wrote: View Post
I remember that show! I liked it when it was out and I forgot all about it. It came out during the time when sci-fi shows were all the rage. There were like three flavors of Star Trek at the time and X-Files was just getting popular (I think). There was even a couple of other sci-fi shows... one is was just like Deep Space 9 but had nothing to do with Star Trek.

Those were some good shows thanks for reminding me of it. I'd definitely like to rent these and check 'em out incrimentally.
Same here Wayde, I remember this show and really liked it. When I saw it at Sam's for $18.88 for the entire series (if you can call one season a series) and there was no question about buying it.

Trek... I'm a huge Trek fan, but mainly of the original show and TNG early on. When Roddenberry died and Berman took over, Trek changed its feel and became a money cow that they milked every last drop out of. There were too many spinoffs and quite frankly, Roddenberry probably wouldn't have approved the spinoffs if here were alive (and still in control, after STMP they took creative control from Gene and made him more of an 'advisor') Roddenberry though always felt that even though the show focused on the three main characters of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy- the real star and centerpiece of the show was the Enterprise. Roddenberry often said without the Enterprise there would be no show. I tend to agree and I personally never got into the spinoff series.

Trek became bloated and victim of it's own success and started taking itself way too seriously.

Space Above and Beyond isn't camp by any means and definitely has drama, but it's done very well and the actors all turned in exceptional performances. Also and I can't say it enough that Space just has a very different 'feel' about it and even though it's Sci-Fi, it will entertain anyone that likes combat stories.

The Hammerheads are really cool too. I like the approach they took where the cockpits are seperate from the plane and the pilots get in the cockpit and then it's lowered into the Hammerhead. This was a brilliant idea. Not only was it original, but from a production stand point it was much cheaper to build cockpits and then the Hammerhead in CGI or model FX instead of a bunch of full scale planes.

This series caused me to pick up the newest Starship Troopers movie, which I am working on a review now of all three. The first movie was fun, but they went down hill from there fast. Production values and story line though, Starship Troopers pales in comparison to Space Above an Beyond.

If this show came out now, it probably wouldn't have gotten canceled and most likely would be the number 1 Sci-Fi show on TV.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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post #7 of 7 Old 08-24-08, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Space Above and Beyond: The Complete Series

Some other thoughts about Space...

Being ex-military myself, I can relate to some of the characters and conditions on board the Saratoga. I especially like the characters Col. TC McQueen (played by James Morrison) and Commodore Glen van Ross (played by Tucker Smallwood). These two are outstanding actors and they portrayed military commanders to a T. They both are tough as nails but also very human and care about their personnel, although like real military commanders they can never fully show that. One thing I learned in the military that I found applies in all walks of life is that you have to earn respect, you can't demand respect. Of course a person has to respect the position and rank, even in the civilian world, whether you like someone or not. But that doesn't mean you have to respect the person, just the position they hold.

These two earn the respect of their crew, and on occasion drop their guard and even let their humanity come through. In that sense they are not one dimensional cookie cutter characters like so many other shows would have done it.

I really like the scenes where Commodore Ross plays his guitar. It's just that little bit of character personality that makes all the difference in the world. Also finding out what McQueen loves to do on R&R showed a very different side of a very tough man.

As the series unfolds, each of the Wild Cards all have their own reasons for joining the military and they are all fleshed out as real and believable characters. By the end of the series I know some of you are going to be saying 'NO! They can't do that to them!' and that just proves that the actors and characters were ones we could identify with and care about.

Lt. Nathan West- His character matures from a naive boy to a battle hardened soldier. Never once though does he lose focus of why he joined, and after the attack and capture of the colony that Kylen was sent to build, his resolve to find and rescue her becomes his driving force.

Capt. Shane Vansen- She's not only eye candy and beautiful, but a natural born leader. Her parents were both marines and we find out what drives her and makes her the way she is as the series plays out. When her sister sends a communication that she is going to have a baby and tells Vansen the name, we get to see her reflect on a life that could have been and the sacrifices she made. Also seeing her time on the pleasure ship during R&R (Capitan and host of the R&R pleasure ship is none other than Coolio, and there is also a cameo in that episode by David Duchovny) is interesting as well.

Lt. Paul Wang- I don't know why, but I kinda liked his character a lot. He was a very likable character and just seemed like someone most of us would have as a friend. He seemed much more tangible and his love of baseball and sports was a nice touch. When he's captured by the A.I.'s and they 'break him', it has more impact than if he were just a run of the mill secondary character. Also the writers didn't just let it drop there- They explored how being a POW and torture has a more lasting effect on a person and it surfaces in future episodes as well.

Lt. Cooper Hawkes- Like McQueen he's an Invitro and has to deal with prejudice from the humans, but his crew makes see him as one of them. For the first time in his life he 'fits in'. Hawkes is a complex Character to play though. His character is around 22, but Invitro's are 'born' at the age of 18, so in essence he's only a kid as far as life experiences. Rodney Rowland has to play Hawkes on a fine line... a walk between a naive child, and also that of a cynical person that has been subjected to racial prejudice his entire life. Drug addiction even comes into play, and Hawkes finds out that without the support of his crew mates he probably never would be able to make it through it alone.

Lt. Vanessa Damphousse- Probably the weakest developed character on the show, but that's not saying much. Compared to other shows her character would be more developed than most. She is also very likable and can hold her own in combat. No weak links there, they all are first rate soldiers. Damphousse is kind of the 'Scotty' of the show, but it's not done in an obvious kind of way. She's an engineer grad from Cal Tech and that knowledge comes in handy on many missions.

Nothing I wrote will ruin anything or give away any of the big story lines. Also these characters are much more developed than anything I could even begin to write here. I really think that anyone that watches this series will agree that all the actors and characters are ones that we really like and care about as far as what happens to them.

Maybe it was best that this show was canceled. Often a series takes off and as solid as it is, by the fourth and fifth year things start to fall apart. Partly because the writers start to run out of fresh ideas, and partly because the studio bean counters insist on adding things that usually are not in character with the storyline and and feel of the show.

We'll never know though, but seeing they actually tried to base the feel and stories off such great shows as Combat, and when it comes to war, if they kept the realistic feel they had going it could have been a great show for a few seasons more.

"Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Albert Einstein

"If all else fails, spin the cat."- Grzboken
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