The Expanse - Reviewed

13 days ago
It's been a long time between drinks for some international audiences for this show but finally both seasons of The Expanse are now on Netflix. Why should you ...

English subtitle

The Expanse has been hailed by some as the
best science fiction series since the reimagined
Battlestar Galactica, which, for this Battlestar
Galactica fan, means it has immensely huge
shoes to fill.
However like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica,
it would seem that the people behind the Expanse
have a plan, which hopefully will ensure the
series continues and improves, because it
has a lot of potential.
Based on the novels by James S.A. Corey the
Expanse series, looks to at least have a solid
direction, a beginning middle and end.
Of course it all depends on how the writer’s
continue to handle the source material when
they adapt it for TV.
But because it already has a timeline at least
it’s not at the mercy of a weekly production
meeting to determine where our heroes will
travel to for their next round of zany adventures.
Maybe, I mean what do I know about putting
together a TV show?
The best I can do is sit on my fat arse, consume
and criticise.
Also, here’s a fun fact, author James S.A.
Corey is not one but two people.
It’s a pen name for authors Daniel Abraham
and Ty Franck who have collaborated to bring
this story to life.
Interestingly Ty Franck started developing
the world where the Expanse is set as part
of an idea for what was to be a massively
multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG.
Daniel Abraham was impressed by how much work
went into this and how deep the world was
and pitched the idea to Franck to write a
book series instead.
And the rest, is history.
And I can tell you, I’m six books deep into
the Expanse and completely invested in this
story.
But none of this information is really that
important if the TV series of The Expanse
is a steaming pile of shit right?
Right.
Science fiction is probably my favourite genre,
because of the sheer escapism of it.
Good sci-fi done right can put you into a
completely different world.
But if you can’t relate to the characters
(and the themes are too far out of this world)
it breaks and ends up being firmly wedged
in the far corner of a niche reserved only
for really hard core geeks who speak Klingon
or Ferenghi as a second language…
That’s right, I’m looking directly at
you Babylon 5 fans.
This is a game of pretend and you guys are
pretending to be the wrong thing.
The Mickies have been know to disguise their
attack ships when they have been doing covert
ops, they use a special set of codes to tell
other Martian ships that they’re out there,
they’re doing the nasty and to get lost.
How do you know all this?
I’m a good spy.
Which is why I don’t want to mess with the
MIckies any more than you guys do, they have
a few grudges against me.
Donkey Balls.
Did you just say donkey balls?
The Expanse is set in a distant but plausible
future, within our solar system.
Mars has been colonised as has the main asteroid
belt between Mars and Jupiter where they do
all their mining.
There’s no interstellar, warp driven travel
and there’s no aliens; there’s just humans
divided up into Earthlings, Martians and Belters.
The result of this colonisation has given
rise to three political factions Earth, Mars
and the Outer Planets Alliance.
I can already hear the casual television viewers
switching off in droves.
They’re all saying, “dude you lost me
back when you were talking about MMORPGs or
some shit.”
Good, fuck off back to watching the Bachelor
or the Kardashians while the adults talk about
real TV with creativity, good writing, tangible
plots and people actually trying to apply
their craft.
You know directors, actors, writers.
It’s not that they’re lazy you know, it’s
just that we can’t give them enough opportunities,
inthis building it’s easy to forget-
With all due respect madam, where are you
going with all this?
Wherever I goddamn like!
The world of the Expanse is tied together
by some really relatable characters, all from
various parts of the solar system, but all
undeniably human, and this is the strong point
of this series and something that may appeal
to the more casual viewer who is not a science
fiction nerd.
The cast is full of relative unknowns to me
with the exception of a few, Thomas Jane plays
detective Miller, a sort of science fiction
gumshoe you may remember him from the Punisher,
The Mist or TV series Hung.
Chad L. Coleman plays Fred Johnson, a leader
within the Outer Planets Alliance, he played
Tyrese in the Walking Dead.
And Shohreh Agdashloo who you might recognise
from the House of Sand and Fog (where she
was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting
actress) she plays Krisjen Avasarala, one
of the key political figures among the Earthers.
These guys are all fantastic in this series
and in many ways their presence pulls it together.
I’m not your enemy.
We’re out of time.
If they get the asteroid between our ships
we’ll lose our jamming signal and they’ll
be able to broadcast everything they saw inside
Eros.
Alex get a missile lock, release fire control
to me.
Are you Serious?
JUST DO IT!
You’ve got less than a minute.
The Expanse gets a lot of things right.
I’m no science major but I feel like the
science in this series is entirely plausible
and the physics behind things like zero gravity,
surviving in the vacuum of space and the effects
being in this environment (particularly under
thrust in a spacecraft) have on the body all
seem really spot on to me.
The other thing they nail are the characters,
there’s such a broad mix from the boy scout
Jim Holden who sits at the centre of the story
to the corrupt detective Miller who is caught
in a battle between his conscience, his allegiance
to the belt and his employers.
They also get the screenplay spot on, they’ve
managed to chop out a lot of the fat from
the books and adapt it for the screen incredibly
well while still remaining loyal to the source
material.
I really don’t want to get too far into
the plot because I don’t want to give too
much away, but it starts with Detective Miller
searching for an extremely wealthy client’s
missing daughter and an incident involving
a civilian mining ship being destroyed.
Political drama with an underlying detective
story plays out and all of the character’s
paths intertwine over time and move towards
something much, much bigger.
It all sounds wonderful, but the show is let
down in a few places.
Some of the acting is incredibly wooden.
For the most part you can almost forgive that
but for me it really breaks up what is otherwise
an exceptionally well-paced story.
This could have something to do with the fact
that I have read ahead though.
I have a pretty clear idea in my head as to
how some characters should look and even sound.
Obviously I don’t expect an exact match
but when they contradict really obvious traits.
For example by casting someone who, as a belter,
should be tall pale and lanky with straight
black hair with an actress who is around five
feet tall with tanned skin and curly hair
then I have something to get over before I
can really enjoy it.
That’s kind of unnecessary because with
all the science and stuff they’re getting
so spot on, they end up breaking the story
by casting someone who doesn’t match the
character type.
It sounds petty, but when this is someone
you could be stuck with for a lot of episodes,
you’ve got to find your way around it.
And if you compare it to say, American Gods,
for the most part the casting in that show
is absolutely on point.
The Expanse has people raving though, and
if you can make it through season one, which
is still very good you’ll really be excited
for season two, which is even better.
But it continues to suffer from a same but
different casting issue in that a particular
character is an exact match for the type but
their acting is shocking.
If you’re a sci-fi nut and you can get over
some of these minor issues and sink your teeth
into the story you’ll love it, and if you’re
new to the genre but want a practical series
that doesn’t have little green men running
around this is a great place to start.
It’s no Battlestar Galactica though, at
least not yet.
The Expanse gets four out of five.
My sister Athena was touched by the hand of
God.
The most beautiful child in all the Belt.
The smartest, but she was fragile.
Her bones were like chalk from spending a
lifetime in zero g.
She was never going to recover, an impossible
burden for a dirt poor family of rock hoppers
and when she became too ill, even to travel,
I had three other sisters to think about.
Our family was starving.
So you killed her.
And that makes me a monster.
If you want more straight shooting reviews,
head over to thewatchman.com.au