Twist Me To The Sky
This is a show the channel – SyFy – obviously lost faith in before even airing a single episode. Ordered as a six-part miniseries for airing during November, later postponed until December when most tv channels switch over to air encore program because people are already on Christmas vacation or stressed by Christmas preparation and buying presents. The six episodes were merged to three with the first two apparently heavily cut by about 15 minutes. Announced as a big scifi event this rather shows the intention to get rid of Ascension real fast and without doing too much harm to the rest of the schedule. Question: Why?
Let’s start with the pilot episode’s ending – well the ending of the two episodes now merged to one pilot, though I suspect the ending was the original ending of the original episode one. This is the kind of twist you want two show at the end of a pilot to get the viewer hooked for further episodes and the whole story arc consist of so little scenes as they had to stretch it over nearly double length.
Especially with the considered possibility of this going into regular series production in the back of our minds the cliffhanger is just wtf? How can this work out in further episodes? They not even are on a real space ship! There is no space, there is no Proxima Centauri (okay, there is, but it’s as far away as 51 years before), there will never be a landing. Everything is fake. We are basically watching the space edition of The Truman Show. Can you do a scifi series with no real scifi at all? Will the viewer’s interest fade after this revelation? Are these the thought of the Syfy channel execs that led to crippling and hiding the show? I don’t know, but to be fair: This twist blow my mind and definitely enhanced the whole episode a lot.
As for the other 65 minutes: I think this is a very decent pilot episode. It has a distinct visual style with all the sixties tech and outfits and of course hair-styling on a spaceship. The touch of retro-scifi I personally really love. In fact I’ve wished for a long time now for a scifi show made in a way it what have been imagined a long time ago like the 20s. So this is pretty close. The sets are okay-ish with the central dome being both “wow, this looks great!” and “man, that’s a lot of wasted space on a space-ship – how did they even build this?” I liked the fake beach because it’s a wonderful example for how far these people have to reduce their life-standards versus what they know from the tv tapes.
Storywise there’s a lot going on: A murder, personal crises, love affairs and the mysterious little psycho girl that hears voices and is talking to the sky. And there’s the big mystery underneath of what’s going on. The tape, the people in the suits. Well, now we know so let’s go back to the ending.
I guess people will find out at the end of episode 3 what’s wrong with the mission. Hypothetical question (since I don’t think there will be any further episodes): What will come next? Some guys 50 years of age trying to cope with the fact the gouvernment stole their lives? Keeping all this a secret from the public? Maybe this is why Ascension should stay what it started off with: being a well-executed mini-series built around a fascinating idea of what could be.