Monday, August 13, 2007

Masters of Science Fiction: The Awakening

Having missed the premiere episode, I did catch ABC's Masters of Science Fiction this past weekend. "The Awakening", based on a story by Howard Fast, starts out with a downed helicopter in Iraq and quickly segues into a possibly angelic, definitely extraterrestrial visitation demanding that the world disarm or else. I didn't love-love it, but I've got to give it points for trying to do smart, literary SF, and I was impressed both with the cleverness of some of the dialogue and the headiness of some of the philosophical discussions tossed around between stars Terry O'Quinn and Elisabeth Röhm. In fact, it was a good deal smarter than I was expecting, and both my wife and I were impressed enough to keep watching (despite her laughing at the Hong Kong accent coming out of the mouth of the mainland Chinese leader).

An article in the Associated Press by Jerry Schwartz sums up our feelings pretty well when it says, speaking of the premiere episode "A Clean Escape," that "they talk in the way that people don't on television anymore. Words flow the way they did in the medium's early days." And it's that effort, to do something a cut above, that I have to respect. Though, thankfully, there seems to be a lot of quality to go around all of a sudden. And as "A Clean Escape" star Sam Waterston told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "There's an awful lot of science fiction entertainment now, so I don't know if it's as separate a genre as it used to be."

7 comments:

Ian Randal Strock said...

I think the first episode was better than the second, if only because the ending was clear, and not a sudden deus ex machina. I also have to wonder about "The Awakening": if it really was god sending a message, why'd he have to be cryptic? (On the other hand, I wondered what happened to Sam Waterston when he wasn't in that room in the first ep.)

I'll definitely tune in this weekend ("Jerry Was a Man", I do like Heinlein).

Lou Anders said...

I've got episode one on the TiVo but haven't seen it yet. I caught "The Awakening" live, as it were. I agree with you about god - if they were angels, why the SF trappings? If they were aliens, why the god trappings? They hint at it when they drop that the aliens are speaking through assembled human scriptures, so maybe their appearance is another mash-up as well?

Shara Saunsaucie said...

I liked this second episode a lot better than the first. The first was good, but something about it felt forced, and the ending pissed me off. You haven't seen it yet, so I won't ruin it for you, but the very, very end pissed me off. One more character should've died, that's all I gotta say.

As far as the second one goes, it felt much more natural. Plus, I'm quite partial to Terry O'Quinn, so that might be it too. :) I'd like to catch the other episodes though, if I don't forget. :)

Lou Anders said...

I will say that both actors impressed me, though making the resolution about the big three - China, US, Russia - seemed a little awkward after introducing the world of post-911 terrorism. Is it really about nuclear disarmament now, or getting every disparate little group to disarm....

Tim Akers said...

That's what I forgot to do this weekend. Ah well. I have thoughts about the first episode, but they're spoilerish so I'll leave off until you've seen it.

Ian Randal Strock said...

I have to disagree with Shara, but... man, keeping away from spoilers for Lou. Now I understand why my friends are less than happy talking with me until I read the damned Harry Potter book. (g)

Anonymous said...

After watching the first two installments of MOSF, I find myself hoping, that ABC and the other networks, will see that there is a market out there, for intelligently written scripts that don't feature the usual Dad-as-dope/Mom-as-hero, dim blonde with 44D's, sex starved yuppie sitcoms, and that not everyone is enamored of "reality" tv.
I thought that Sam Waterston and Judy Davis were outstanding (as they are in anything they do) in the first episode, and Terry O'Quinn and Elisabeth Rohm may just be the two most under rated and under utilized actors around.
The scripts were though provoking, although I thought the climaxes a bit apparent. Still, where else does one see such high quality writing and acting? OH-I remember! Twilight Zone in syndication! Rod Serling, you must be grinning.