ABC Cancels Defying Gravity

Okay, so just as I was getting into Defying Gravity, ABC cancels the show according to Ace Showbiz via I09. Obviously, I will be able to see the episodes that won’t air on ABC, but it really grinds my gears when a network pulls the plug on a show before it gets off the ground–well, they did, but you know what I’m saying.

I enjoy watching SF on television, but I’m beginning to develop a tick from good show cancellations. I have to ask myself, should I invest myself in a particular show, knowing that it could get canned half way through the season?

What does this mean for SF show producers? Is there a way to develop a cost effective, low budget, high concept SF show? As we know from reading SF, the science fictional aspect of a story need not be overwhelming–it can be subtle. Can this translate well into a visual media like television, or do we need something visually awesome to let us know that what we are watching is SF?

Defying Gravity Looks Promising

Screen shot 2009-09-05 at 5.17.57 PM

In the screen capture above, you can see the starship Antares streaming away from Earth in the second episode of the ABC show, Defying Gravity.

When I first heard about Defying Gravity, I was very afraid that it was going to be a disaster despite Ron Livingston’s lead in the show. However, I took some time off from my SFRA 2008 Proceedings chapter revision to watch the pilot on Hulu yesterday.

The premise of the show is to send a manned mission on a grand tour of the solar system after our successful (albeit with casualties) mission to Mars. The hook for the show is that there is a bit of mystery regarding the replacement of two crew members at the last moment due to an undiagnosed medical condition, and a whispered true purpose to the mission (sounds like 2001: A Space Odyssey without HAL).

I believe that the show deserves a shot based on the pilot, so I’m going to continue watching to see how it develops. However, I am going to take the show with a healthy pinch of salt, because there are narrative tropes (e.g., cocksure and subordinate astronauts/pilots and affect-lacking deceptive administrators that deserve to be laid to rest) and some not-so-sound science and engineering that are unavoidably endemic to much SF television. I will say that its use of flashback and dreams add to rather than detract from the show’s ability to tell its story.

You can catch episodes on ABC, Sunday nights at 10:00PM EST, and for a limited time on Hulu here.