Rewind: ‘Earth 2’ revisited

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‘We crashed on this planet two weeks ago and now, here we are… trapped.’


What’s it about?

In 2192, Planet Earth is in a dismal state, blighted by overpopulation and pollution, and the majority of its inhabitants have been forced to move off-world to orbiting space stations.

Due to a disease known only as ‘the syndrome’, many children born in these artificial environments don’t make it past the age of nine, and when young Uli Adair contracts the nameless illness, his scientist mother Devon puts together a team – the Eden Project – to investigate a distant planet named G889 with the intention of colonising this new world.

Inevitably, things go pear-shaped from the moment they crash-land, and after struggling against the corrupt ruling council on Earth, indigenous alien species with dubiously large packages, occasionally ropy ‘90s special effects and Tim Curry in a fright-wig, Devon and her team find out that G889 was once a prison world and that the generously-trousered Terrians are symbiotically linked to the planet’s fate.


Who was in it?

Of the principal cast Deborah Farentino and Joey Zimmerman are still best-known for playing Devon Adair and her son Uli respectively, while film fans will recognise Clancy Brown (John Danziger) as sadist prison warder Byron Hadley from The Shawshank Redemption.

More famous names amongst the guest stars include Terry O’Quinn (Lost’s Locke) as Reilly and Tim Curry (Frank ‘n’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pennywise in It and Wadsworth in one of our all-time favourite – and criminally underrated – comedy movies, Clue) as Gaal.

Best moment?

So much of Earth 2 is reminiscent of something else – the scene in which the Koba that sneaks up on Devon is almost identical to Wicket’s discovery of Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi, while the technology looks like it was nicked from Jean-Luc Picard’s Gadget Show prize-winnings – that there’s very little which can singled out as an instance of authentic greatness.

However, anything with Tim Curry in can’t be all bad (except Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, of course) and even his 1980s-MOR-bassist’s hairdon’t can’t spoil the early episodes. The show also looks pretty good when it’s not being all spacey; the sunsets over Santa Fe that double for dawn on G889 are spectacular.


Last seen?

Earth 2 was not renewed by NBC after the airing of its first and only season concluded in the summer of 1995. Although ratings had fallen off after a promising start, the network was initially keen to commission more episodes.

However, production company Universal inexplicably decided to sack all the executive producers in the belief that future series should be geared to a wider audience (i.e. dumbed down). After seeing Universal’s promo reel outlining plans for a second season, NBC were so unimpressed they decided to cancel the show instead.


The future?

While any remake of Earth 2 would obviously be produced to the standards demanded by a modern audience (the original visuals somewhere between Star Trek: The Next Generation and Red Dwarf VII) it’s to be hoped that any reprise of the parent show’s earnestness is counterbalanced with more humour and action.

A new version would also benefit from some more groundbreaking ideas; the notion of humanity’s future lying on other worlds away from our ruined-beyond-redemption home planet was hardly new in the 1990s, and the almost entirely negative response to last year’s BBC One series Outcasts – a colonisation serial which bore a number of similarities to Earth 2 – suggests viewers have grown tired of the concept.

Perhaps we don’t like to be reminded of the irreparable damage we’re doing to Earth 1, particularly as we don’t yet have a G889 of own to resettle upon.


> Buy the complete series DVD boxset on Amazon.

What are your memories of Earth 2? Let us know below…

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