DVD REVIEW: Defying Gravity - The Complete First Season
ABC's canceled sci-fi TV series hits home video with unaired episodes...
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Defying Gravity was, for those who watched it, one of the few thrilling, dramatic, and exciting sci-fi series on network TV. Unfortunately, it never really found the audience it needed to deem it worth the investment, and ABC canned the series a mere 8 episodes into its first season.
Somewhat of a sensation in certain fan circles, the series - driven by its character-rich plot about 4 men and 4 women on a 6 year spaceflight through the solar system in the year 2052 - has found a bit of a reprieve thanks to DVD release in its entirety. With a total of 13 episodes made, Defying Gravity was hitting its stride when it was taken off the air after episode 8 and, unfortunately, for those who enjoyed the show, picking up this DVD set is the only way to find out what was in the shuttle pod 4 at the end of the final aired episode - Love, Honor, Obey.
What makes Defying Gravity so impressive is the brilliantly written and acted characters. Lead by film and TV actor Ron Livingston (Office Space), the cast features - like many impressive sci-fi series - a variety of character types, allowing viewers to pick and choose favorites while enjoying the ensemble as well.
The story reveals the recruitment, training of and eventual deployment of the 8 person crew of the Antares space station on a 6 year mission to tour the solar system. While the exact reasons for the mission remain hidden, the crew - which includes pilots, doctors, physicists, analysts, and more - suffer from not only the rigors and stresses of leaving family and friends behind, but also the everyday ins and outs of living life. It's this character-centric storyline and basis which allowed the series to appeal to a small, die-hard audience in such a short time period.
Unlike some sci-fi series, Defying Gravity also found itself grounded in at least some semblance of a reasonable future. Set in the year 2052, it's not impossible we could be ready and willing to explore the solar system in a mere 40 years. There are no flying cars, laser guns, or space fighter ships in Defying Gravity; something that allowed it to appeal to both sci-fi and non-sci-fi fans alike.
Special features are a bit light here, though considering there were only 8 episodes aired on ABC and all 13 episodes are included, that's saying something...
A load of deleted scenes (29 in all) are included as are interviews with cast and crew. A making-of featurette type documentary is also included and a couple of slide shows which include impressive concept and design art are worth a look. Overall, not a lot to enjoy, but - of course - the show's was only 13 episodes long.
While ABC's poor marketing of Defying Gravity is (at least partially) to blame for the show's poor reception, those who pick up this series will find a well-written, brilliantly acted and very impressive series which sadly never found its way to success. While it's not too early to completely write off Defying Gravity (as another network or SyFy could pick it up and make it a success), it's a safe bet to assume this will be the only 13 episodes ever made of Defying Gravity.
That said, if you've just got to know how the series will end, this may - or may not - be for you. While you'll find out how the first season ends, you - and the 2 million or so fans who tuned in each week for 2 months will sadly never find out the future of Defying Gravity. That said, it's still not a waste to pick up these 13 episodes and enjoy Defying Gravity for what it is: a brilliantly written, well acted TV series that was killed off before its time.
- Jess C. Horsley