One of the problems with re-releasing old sci-fi TV series is that they don’t always stand the test of time, especially when trying to attract new audiences. Contemporary fans will invariably overlook the faults thanks to nostalgia distortion, but viewers brought up on modern TV shows find it hard to look past the outmoded costumes and the so-called future tech.
To a certain extent, the 1994 series Earth 2, which imagines a time 200 years in the future still works because of the storytelling and acting and not because of the technological realism. There are realistic cyborgs and less convincing androids, there are genetic enhancements but medicine seemingly hasn’t sufficiently advanced, and space craft look much the same as they do now. Even with Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment behind it, budgets (and technology) didn’t extend to big special effects, relying on good old-fashioned practicals, which were good enough for it to win an Emmy for Visual Effects. Even the planet our erstwhile astronauts are stranded on bears an uncanny resemblance to Earth, except for its native inhabitants. It does have a Swiss Family Robinson/Lost in Space feel about it, although with a larger central cast, mixed with elements of classic westerns such as Wagon Train.
Principally created by writer and sometime director Billy Ray (who recently did the screenplay for The Hunger Games), it features a good cast led by Deborah Farentino (Eureka) and Clancy Brown (Highlander and prolific voiceover artist), and featuring the likes of Tim Curry, Terry O’Quinn (Lost) and Roy Dotrice. It’s overriding theme is about the place of humans in cosmos and the fact that we are the invading aliens when we land on another planet.
It is slightly dated (it’s even in 4:3 format) but still intelligent sci-fi with something to say.
Earth 2 is out now in a five-disc DVD box set containing all 21 episodes and is available from Play and all good retailers.
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