Review: ‘The Expanse’ Is A Show That Unfortunately Exists On Television
I have been looking forward to The Expanse on the SYFY channel ever since it was announced. The books are entertaining, the story is close enough to Earth to make it seem somewhat realistic, and even the genius of George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) described the books as a “kickass space opera.” Much to my surprise after watching the Detroit Lions crap the bed did I see that the first episode of The Expanse was available 2 weeks before the premiere.
And then I turned it on…
It was boring, badly directed, badly written, badly acted, and pretty much awful from beginning to end. Sure, there’s cable nudity that had shadows in the spots that made you look closer to see anything but leave disappointed, but like porn, you don’t tune in for the plot. And unlike porn, or even NYPD Blue 20 years ago, you see less to even remember. Let me give you the premise of the series which will excite you… until you watch the show.
Premise: Two hundred years in the future, in a fully colonized Solar System, police detective Miller (Thomas Jane), born in the asteroid belt, is given the assignment to find a missing young woman, Julie Mao. Joining his task is James Holden (Steven Strait), formerly first officer of an ice freighter who is involved in an incident caused by the tense relationship between Earth, Mars and the Belt. Soon the two find out that the missing woman is connected to a vast conspiracy.
The most interesting part of the show was the beginning where the opening credits tell you about the story leading up to where it begins. Earth has spread out to the Mars and the Asteroid Belt. The vast difference in location leads to a possible war over differing opinions, and the normal stuff you see in shows like Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and pretty much every other show that deals with humans expanding beyond the Moon. Where it falls apart is when the show starts. I mean, it falls apart the moment the first scene starts! The blue filter over the camera, the poor editing, the lack of understanding of what’s going on, the quick cut to other people talking about crap you have no idea about, and more! It was like walking into a conversation of drunk people mid-conversation when you arrived to a party late. They drunkenly try to explain what’s going on, you look at them confused, and then someone’s girlfriend falls down the stairs.
It starts with a girl floating around in trouble. She doesn’t know what’s going on, the audience doesn’t know what’s going on, and then more awful things happen for 30 minutes into the hour pilot of the show. It becomes so convoluted that you don’t even know if there is a main character. Sure, there’s Thomas Jane being a detective, but then he disappears for a good part of the show. Everyone is wandering around seemingly not knowing what they are doing. It felt like I gave a scientific journal to someone that believes the Earth is 6,000 years old and expected him to read it convincingly… for an hour. The first book was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2012, but if I was someone that never read the book, I would’ve changed the channel within the first ten minutes.
The purpose of a pilot is to establish tone, context, and most of all the point of the show. At the end of the first episode, I just checked my remote to see if my TV screwed up. I was waiting for an end that made me want to tune in to the next episode, but that never happened. It ended with me not caring who anyone was, not remembering anyone’s name, wondering why Thomas Jane had half his head shaved and wears a fedora, and pretty much why I got excited for an adaptation of Leviathan Wakes.
The Expanse will premiere on December 14-15 at 10 PM. The Expanse then airs in its regular Tuesday 10 PM time slot for the remainder of its 10-episode season.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.