The year is 2063 and the people of Earth now feel certain that they are alone in the universe but would soon find out otherwise in a rough awakening, as the Earth is embroiled in a desperate war against alien invaders.
The series ‘Space: Above and Beyond’ was released in 1995 and created by two X-Files writers; Glen Morgan and James Wong.
The show had a lot of promise in the show’s obvious inspirations: Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and other classic tales of realistic warfare in space.
It also had a strong base in five new-meat marines – a squadron of Marine pilots called the “Wildcards” – all cast in the multi-ethnic Captain Planet style with their commander, all caught up in mankind’s desperate struggle of survival in a massive interplanetary war against flea-like aliens called “Chigs”. The Wild Cards are members of the United States Marine Corps Space Aviator Cavalry, 58th Squadron, stationed on the space carrier USS Saratoga.
The show explores other well-established sci-fi concepts by bringing in some traitorous androids (‘the silicates’), vat-grown humans (“in vitro”, cool psychics and featuring almost every other science fiction cliché short of time travel.
In a lot of ways, Space: Above and Beyond was ahead of the game, at its better moments it could pass for scenes from the newer Battlestar Galactica series. But a lot of time, though, the show has more in common with Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers film, albeit on a much lower budget and is unintentionally much more shallow.
Originally planned for five seasons, it ran only for the single 1995–1996 season, due to low ratings. It was nominated for two Emmy Awards and one Saturn Award. It was ranked “50” in IGN’s top 50 Sci-Fi TV Shows, described as “yet another sci-fi show that went before its time”.
“Courage, Honour, Dedication, Sacrifice, these are just the words they used to get you here, now the only word that means a damn to you, is life. Yours, your buddies, the one certainty in war is that in an hour, maybe two, you’ll either still be alive or you’ll be dead.”
– Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius ‘T.C.’ McQueen
The show centers on Nathan West (Morgan Weisser), who’s improbably separated from his true love and must get out to space if he’s to have any hope of a reunion; Shane Vansen (Kristen Cloke), physically and psychologically scarred from an earlier war that left her orphaned; and Cooper Hawkes (Rodney Rowland), a bad-boy member of the parent-less “in-vitros.”
A personal favorite character is Tyrus Cassius “T.C.” McQueen (James Morrison), who while battling prejudice and bigotry (born an In Vitro), has advanced through the ranks, becoming a “lifer,” looking to the Corps as his family, all the while remaining a loner.
Cast: Morgan Weisser, Kristen Cloke, Rodney Rowland, Lanei Chapman, Joel de la Fuente, James Morrison, R. Lee Ermey, Bill Hunter, Colin Friels, Amanda Douge , Peter Kent, Theresa Wong, Anja Coleby, Darrin Klimek, Chris Kirby, Robert Coleby, Alan Dale, Michael Edward-Stevens, Charles Anthony, Bartholomew John, Gennie Nevinson, James Campbell, Melissa Bullock, Ric Anderson, Angus Grant, Colin Handley, Rebecca Riggs.