Eyes is perhaps the most ambitious that Space: Above and Beyond has been to this point in the season.
Eyes develops scraps hinted at in The Pilot and The Farthest Man From Home into a complex web of intrigue, with an assassination plot playing out against all sorts of institutionalised prejudice and suggesting sinister conspiracies at work behind the horrific war that drives the show. The last episode of Space: Above and Beyondcredited to Glen Morgan and James Wong in 1996, the episode feels like it is solidifying the series. Six episodes in, enough foundations have been laid that development can begin.
Eyes is rather epic in scale, and massive in scope. It is a story about politics and scheming, unfolding quite far away from the front lines. In episodes like The Pilot, The Farthest Man From Home and even Ray Butts, it often felt like our lead characters were quite divorced from the big decisions. It seemed like the show was very much preoccupied with a day in the life of a space marine, rather with the larger forces at play seen only in glimpses and shadows.
Eyes is a show that does a lot to build the world of Space: Above and Beyond, doing a much better job than The Dark Side of the Sun or Mutiny at giving a sense of this dark future. While the script is perhaps a little too cluttered for its own good, it is a very well-constructed paranoid conspiracy thriller.
I re-capped the Pilot because the old ones had some deinterlacing artifacts left and I have since found a better filter to do deinterlacing. I’ll going through the other eps too over time as a side project.
The usual rules apply – credit, don’t hotlink, don’t ask for zips/rars!
Ray Butts is a collection of familiar war movie clichés.
Space: Above and Beyond is effectively a gigantic Second World War movie in space, and Ray Butts allows creators Glen Morgan and James Wong to roll two of the most instantly recognisable war movie archetypes into a single character. The eponymous officer is at once a soldier traumatised by his past experiences and a tough new commander for a young unit. He is a source of friction on the show, kept ambiguous and mysterious for most of the episode’s runtime.
Ray Butts piles on the questions. The show doesn’t reveal his orders for quite a while, asking the audience to decide whether they trust the orders – let alone the man assigned to carry them out. The show also plays up questions around Butts himself; is Butts a man trying work through his own issues in his own way, or simply a risk-taking and borderline incompetent commanding officer? Ray Butts doesn’t have too many surprises, but it works because Morgan and Wong know how to structure an episode of television.
After the misfiring ambition of The Dark Side of the Sun, it feels almost like Ray Butts puts Morgan and Wong back in their element.
Continue reading “Review – Ray Butts”
We have fabulous new themes here on the main site, and in the gallery. It’s designed by Sin21 🙂
Nothing says “this is a militaristic science-fiction show!” quite like a mutiny episode.
When producing a show like Space: Above and Beyond, doing a show based around a mutiny in wartime is a given. It’s no surprise that Mutiny is the third regular episode of the show. Indeed, when Battlestar Galactica – a show that owes a sizeable debt to Space: Above and Beyond – wanted to establish its own militaristic science-fiction credentials, it produced Bastille Day as the third episode of its first season – another story about an uprising on a spaceship in a time of crisis.
Mutiny is also notable as the first episode of the season not credited to the creative team of Glen Morgan and James Wong. Of course, as executive producers, Morgan and Wong would have had a massive impact on the development and the writing of Mutiny. Stephen Zito is credited as the writer on the show. Zito is a veteran television writer and producer, working in the industry since the late eighties. He departed Space: Above and Beyond halfway through the first season, moving on to a long run on J.A.G.
Mutiny is far from perfect – indeed, it is often quite clunky in places. At the same time, it is a lot more comfortable in its skin than The Dark Side of the Sun was.