Space: Above and Beyond

In the fall of ’95 FOX introduced a new Science Fiction show, Space: Above and Beyond. This was a show unlike almost anything else on TV, a gritty, dark Science Fiction hour long drama. Sadly, the show was only around for one season, and after 24 episodes it ended.

Space Above and Beyond Logo

Unlike Babylon 5 which was on the air at the same time, Space: Above and Beyond was set in a much closer future, 2063. A year that some of the shows viewers may potentially live to see (of course I’ll be 93 then, but yeah, it’s possible). Humankind was still in its space faring youth, beginning to colonize other planets. Space travel was primitive compared to other space shows; there was no FTL travel, no machines to fold space. Space travel was made possible by the use of transient yet predictable wormholes that appeared naturally. All seemed to be going well when Earth’s first colony is destroyed by an alien enemy. They called them “Chigs” because they looked rather bug like. Thus, human kind was thrown into a war it wasn’t really prepared for.

Chig

A Chig

The Earth of Space: Above and Beyond is sort of unified under a United Nations, but the armies that fight the Chig War are the forces of various countries. The US Navy has their own interstellar starships, like the USS Saratoga, home to the US Marine Corps Space Aviator Cavalry the 58th Squadron, AKA The Wildcards. This group of undertrained and unproven soldiers is the focus of most of the shows drama. It is with these people we share the adventure with.

In addition to the humans and Chigs we have two other groups to contend with. We have the In Vitros, aka Tanks or Nipple Necks. These are artificially gestated humans. They are “grown” in a tank until they reach the equivalence of 18-years when they are decanted. Tanks are stronger then “natural” humans, and tougher. As such they are considered disposable by some, and treated as less than naturally born humans. Tanks were initially forced into indentured servitude, and even though they have since been freed from that there is still a lot of resentment by the natural born humans.  The Commander of the Wildcards is an In Vitro, as is another character, Cooper Hawkes. These two characters are on the opposite end of the spectrum in that one is an older and mature Tank who has lived through the servitude and risen through the ranks, while the other is still young and learning how to cope with who he is.

Space

The other group we meet is that of the Silicates. They are a race of AI that humans created. We learn through back-story that there had been a war with the Silicates. At the end of the war they stole military spacecraft and left the planet. As the Chig War unfolds we learn that the Silicates are collaborating with the Chigs.

The topics in Space: Above and Beyond explored all that you might expect from what is, essentially, a war drama. There is personal sacrifice, loss, betrayal and love. Politics reared its ugly head on many occasions. Fear, revenge, relationships, and of course battle.

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As I said early on, the show only lasted one season, and when it ended, it did so with a bang. In fact it ended with what you might think of as a “cliff hanger.” Characters we had grown to love were killed, some were lost, and the whole show ended leaving us to wonder “But what happened next? What happened to…?” This was intentional on the part of the writers. They wanted to keep a plan open for a possible continuation of the story. One thing I must observe on the abrupt ending of the show… it ended with loss, sacrifice and most of all, it ended with hope. The war had taken a turn in humanity’s favor, and Earth was beginning to think, finally, that we all just might survive this and even win it. With that the show was over. No, we don’t know what happened next, but we were left with that hope. I hope you take the time to find this show and watch it. You may well thank me for it. (It’s available on DVD.)

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