Space: Above and Beyond

Tagged: TV

US tv series (1995-1996; vt Space 2063). Village Roadshow Pictures/Hard Eight Pictures/20th Century Fox Television for Fox Network. Created by James Wong and Glen Morgan. Produced by D Howard Grigsby, Tim McHugh, Herb Adelman. Directors included Thomas J Wright, Charles Martin Smith, Winrich Kolbe. Writers included Marilyn Osborn, Joe Reinkemeyer, Richard Whitley. Cast includes Lanei Chapman, Kristen Cloke, Joel de la Fuente, James Morrison, Rodney Rowland, Tucker Smallwood (occasional) and Morgan Weisser. 24 45-minute to 48-minute episodes. Colour.

2063. Humanity has begun the Colonization of Other Worlds. Earth's first extra-solar colony is attacked and destroyed, together with a colony Starship, by an Alien race known as the "Chigs", reptilian humanoids with some insect features. This begins a desperate war for the survival of the human race. The series primarily follows the Military SF adventures of the "Wild Cards" squadron: Lieutenant Nathan West (Weisser), Lieutenant Shane Vansen (Cloke), Lieutenant Paul Wang (de la Fuente) and their comrades in the US Space Marine Corps Space Aviation Cavalry, 58th Squadron. The story of the conflict unfolds as the season progresses. Humanity lacks any Faster Than Light technology, and relies on transient but predictable Wormholes to reach other planetary systems. The Chigs possess limited FTL travel but also use similar wormholes for transit between stars. Several years prior to the series opening, a War had been fought on and near Earth between humanity and human-appearing Androids called Silicates which were created by humanity and rebelled against human rule. Defeated with the aid of Genetically Engineered humans bred for combat – "In Vitroes", or derisively "tanks" – the Silicates fled into space with stolen military Spaceships, and became allies of the aliens, often as mercenaries. "In Vitroes" are "born" from artificial tank-like wombs at the physical age of eighteen, and have limited social abilities; their efforts to enter human society meet with mixed results. Considered inferior to naturally-born humans, they are subjected to prejudice, segregation and indentured servitude.

Earth had no unified space military forces prior to the Chig war; the Starships from which Lt West and the others operated were vessels of the US Navy. Their space fighters, called "Hammerheads", can operate within planetary atmospheres as well as in outer space. Commodore Glen van Ross (Smallwood) appears from time to time. Other nations such as the UK have built their own space carriers and fighter craft operated by the Royal Navy. In the final episode, most of the main cast is apparently killed or lost, with Lieutenant-Colonel McQueen (Morrison) badly injured. Only West and Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes (Rowland) clearly survive. Had the series continued, the fates of the others would have been revealed; rather than outright victory or defeat, negotiations with the aliens were to lead to a peace treaty. The producers stated that The Forever War (June 1972-January 1975 Analog; fixup 1974) by Joe Haldeman, was a major influence on the programme. Despite its short run, Tied merchandise including a Comics series appeared, as well as model kits of various space craft. Two novel Ties were published by Peter Telep: Space: Above and Beyond (1995), and Space: Above and Beyond 2: Demolition Winter (1997). The series retains a small but loyal fan base. [GSt]

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