Monday, October 21, 2013

Semper FI... my friend

It does not have the cult following that Firefly does, but those who remember this series might recall it fondly. I know I do. From September of 1995 through May of 1996, Space: Above and Beyond aired on the Fox network. It was a unique science fiction series in that it was also a war series. Even thought it was nominated for two Emmy Awards, it shared the same fate as Firefly. It was canceled by Fox after one season.

In the year 2063 a previously unknown alien civilization attacks two earth outposts in deep space and initiated a war that the combined earth forces may not be able to survive. Members of the 58th Squadron, Wild Cards, of the United States Marine Corps Space Aviator Cavalry are on the front line.

Sometimes they fly their SA-43 fighters, called Hammerheads, and sometimes they carry on the fight in the ground when there is a lack of ground forces because every Marine is a rifleman.

Their enemy is known only by a nickname, Chigs. It was given to them by earth forces because of their insect like features and they have no other name to call them.

Although supporting characters come in and out of the group, most lost in action, the series focuses on five members of the 58th Squadron, 1st Lieutenant and then Captain Shane Vansen, 1st Lt. Nathan West, 1st Lt. Cooper Hawks, 1st Lt. Paul Wang, 1st Lt. Vanessa Damphousse, and their commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Tyrus Cassius “T.C.” McQueen. Most of the series takes place aboard the space carrier USS Saratoga when no in the cockpits of the SA-43s or on an alien world.

Compared to other space based shows, this one had plenty of references to contemporary culture. There was music from Johnny Cash and Ramones among other things. It also tackled drug addiction and racism through the existence of the In Vitros, humans created in gestation tanks and forced into servitude. The series also had X-Files type elements that could have been explored further had there been more than one season. (It was from the creators of The X-Flies)

It’s another great show that didn’t have a chance to grow. The finale is a cliffhanger that leaves things a little bleak. Ok, it leaves things really bleak. But it was a good short rise while it lasted and it lasted long enough to get to know the characters. It’s perhaps best that Vansens’s last words in the series are “Semper FI... my friend.” 

Search YouTube for clips and episodes.

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