I wrote this on my personal blog about a year and a half ago but never shared it to the Observation Deck for some reason.
About a year ago I watched Earth 2. It was one of those shows on network television in the 90s that dared big along with seaQuest DSV and most of the shows in Fox’s Friday night death slot. Even when those shows’ reach exceeded their grasp, they were still generally good shows. Mild spoilers ahead.
The show has a rather complex backstory that that we learn more about as the show progresses. Most of humanity is living on space stations and only a few of the characters have ever been on a planet’s surface before they reach the titular world in a far star system. I liked that the writers remember that and show the colonists dealing with weather and such that we take for granted. There is a lot of political stuff going on – the folks running the stations didn’t want the expedition to go and have taken certain measures against them. There are also a lot of mysteries on the planet to deal with as well as not one but two alien races there. A lot is going on and I found myself really getting into the various plots.
The characters are interesting, too. Because of what happens in the pilot episode, the crew of the transport ship that brought the colonists is stuck on the planet with them. So several of the characters are not there voluntarily. But unlike SGU where two groups are at each other’s throats, the spacers and colonists are working together without too much friction.
The head spacer (Clancy Brown) and the head colonist (Debrah Farentino) clash but neither is going to leave the other for dead and move on. They’re both single parents (each with a child of the other gender) and the young boy figures prominently in the group’s dealings with one of the alien races.
My favorite character is Dr. Heller (Jessica Steen). At first I thought she was just there to do the “He’s dead, Jim” stuff and be a love interest for the dashing hot shot space pilot (Antonio Sabato Jr.). But something happens to make the doctor much more interesting and adds a lot of depth to her.
I was also pleasantly surprised by Rebecca Gayheart’s character, Bess Martin. Bess is the wife of the government official sent along with the colonists. At first it seemed she would be a Chloe Armstrong type with nothing useful to add besides looking pretty. But she’s one of the few who grew up on Earth and has practical skills. On the other hand, her husband the politician was my least favorite character. In general the Martin centric episodes were the weakest ones.
The show goes off the rails a few times (magic spider bites) but the world the show created is someplace I’d like to visit again.
Update: Earth 2 is still streaming on Netflix. The post has been slightly edited for format.