I recently started watching Syfy networks Dark Matter and after losing interest around the 5th episode, it became time to add a new science fiction show into the rotation. I read about The Expanse a few months ago and I remember a substantial amount of hype behind it. A friend of mine told me it was probably his most anticipated show, so after the usual fifteen minutes of searching Neflix, I downloaded the Syfy app onto my Xbox One and gave it a go. I ended up watching the first two episodes so this review will cover both.
The story thus far is still a little unclear. The general premise consists of a future where humans have moved beyond earth and colonized other portions of our solar system. There are three major factions in the colonized solar system. The belters are a society of space born humans who mine water from the asteroid belt. Earth is still seemingly rich with water and ample vegetation. Mars is a secretive, militaristic society that appears to be involved in some sort of cold war with earth. While the premise isn’t entirely original, it isn’t something that is regularly explored on television. I’ll give Syfy credit for going all in on a premise with limited appeal.
I know it’s early but character development is a little lacking. This is a show with an ensemble cast so I might have to accept that it will take some time to really delve into all the characters. The show opens with a mysterious Julie Mao floating inside a derelict ship. It’s a compelling introduction but we really don’t find out anything about this character. I am only two episodes in so hopefully that changes. Actor Thomas Jane plays space station detective Joe Miller; Steven Strait plays acting commanding officer Jim Holden and Shohreh Aghdashloo plays U.N. politician Chrisjen Avasarala. Avasarala is the more interesting character primarily because she breaks away from some of the more common science fiction tropes. Holden is your typical blue collar space commander type and Joe Miller is the stereotypical anti-hero bad boy detective. I can’t say that I am the biggest Thomas Jane fan(see Deep Blue Sea) but I am willing to give him a shot here.
Generally speaking, this show is comprised of a bunch of little know actors playing stereotypical characters.
There are a lot of less prominent characters that have potential. Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata could develop into an interesting character. She still falls into the typical strong independent woman stereotype but her interplay with Amos Burton (played by Wes Chatham) could get interesting.
Look and Feel
Where the show does shine is in its cinematography and special effects. You can tell that Syfy is going all out here. The scenes out in space are top notch and while the interior scenes can have a noticeable green screen effect, it is still respectable for a TV show and great for one on the Syfy channel. This show reminds me a little of an old film called Outlander with Sean Connery. I like the industrial space station feel mixed with pockets of lush greenery. The practical sets are also well done and are on par with some the better TV shows out there.
While I think they could do a better job with some characters, It’s still early. I am willing to give it a few more episodes to see how it develops. I commend Syfy for putting a lot of effort into the shows production values. Let’s hope Thomas Jane can make me forget he is in Deep Blue Sea.