"In space no one can hear you scream ...
...Unless it is the battle cry of the United States Marines!"
...Unless it is the battle cry of the United States Marines!"
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
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
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
Run Time: 1032 minutes
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)
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.
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 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.
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.
:4stars: 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.