Starring: Debrah Farentino, Tim Curry, Virginia Madsen
Studio: Sci-Fi Channel/Universal 27803
Video: 1.33:1 full frame
Audio: DD stereo, English
Subtitles: Spanish; Captions: English
Extras: Deleted & Extended Scenes; Blooper Reel Outtakes; 1 Episode each from “Sliders” and “Cleopatra 2525”
Length: 17 hrs., 5 min. (21 episodes on 4 double-sided discs)
Yes, four stars, but keep in mind I’m a sci-fi nut. The recent explosion of TV series showing up on DVDs is a real boon to many of us who saw perhaps just a few episodes of a series and liked it, or even didn’t like it that much but wondered how it turned out. Now you can find out at your leisure, although it is simpler to purchase the series rather than try to seek out the individual DVDs at rental outlets.
One thing I found especially clever about this series is the way they must have saved bundles on sets and costumes. Most of it was shot outdoors or in tents in the American Southwest somewhere, making use of the spectacular scenery available. The characters are survivors of a space ship crash on the planet, so they mostly wear ordinary clothes and basically camp out for the whole series – though they did bring with them some sci-fi-ish gadgets that make roughing it in nature a bit easier.
In the year 2192 the Earth has evidently been made totally unhospitable, and mankind lives on space stations circling it. Devon’s son Ulysses has some sort of serious disease, as do many children on a hospital satellite. She puts together an expedition to start a new civilization on an Earth-like planet 22 light years away. The authorities don’t want the ship to go and attempt to blow it up as it leaves the space station. Something goes wrong in the landing on the new planet and the group which was to be the vanguard for later settlement by others crash-lands on the wrong side of the planet. There is already a settlement of some sort on the other side – New Pacifica. The colonists start on a trek to reach it.
They discover they are not the only inhabitants on this side of this world. Tall men looking like the mud men of Borneo rise up out of the ground and threaten the new settlers, but they also kidnap Ulysses and cure his disease. Then there are the Grendlers, slobbering ugly cow-like creatures who trade goods. There is also a small cute rodent who looks like a mini-E.T. but when upset can fling a poisoned toenail at people which puts them into a two-day coma which appears to be death. As the settlers move along on their trek they encounter various challenges from the Terrians, the Grendlers, and various humans such as the Tim Curry character. He claims to be a stranded astronaut but is actually the last man left alive from a group of criminals dropped there to make it a penal planet. The group’s nurse also turns out to be a spy for the Council on the space station who also want to populate the earth look-alike with their own people. The various episodes center on changing relationships between members of the party and with the humans and the Terrians and Grendlers. Acting is quite good and so are the special effects. The transfer to DVD is excellent, with much detail in the night scenes. The full frame image works fine when stretched to fill 16:9 format. The two episodes from the other series are a kick, but the rest of the extras are a bore. Altogether this is a great trip for any sci-fi fan though others may find it a bit repetitious partway thru the series.
– John Sunier