Reviews

INTERGALACTIC – Season 1 (spoiler-free review)

When the Sky platform announced the arrival of this new SF series, to be released starting from May 31st, I was very intrigued by the details revealed in the promotional trailers, particularly by the protagonists, a group of women convicts who steal a ship and make a run for the planet Arcadia, possibly the last place in the known universe where Earth’s oppressive regime does not reach.  The echoes of Farscape and Firefly in the plot represented the main attraction for me, and I was eager to see where this new SF adventure would take my imagination.

In the year 2143 Earth has undergone some devastating changes of an unspecified nature, although it would be easy to imagine something related to climate: political power now resides with the Commonworld, whose goal to preserve what’s left of our planet is pursued with an iron fist and a totalitarian bent that add a dystopic layer to the overall background. The first sequences of the pilot episode show us a new and futuristic city of London built on the crumbling ruins of the old one, where the destitute and the criminals still eke out a life of sorts.  Ash Harper, a young and on-the-rise pilot/police officer and the daughter of a powerful woman, just concluded the chase of an elusive thief and is celebrating her future prospects when she is suddenly arrested on the charge of having stolen some precious substance: summarily tried, she is placed on a transport ship, the Hemlock, together with other convicts destined to off-world deportation – including the one she caught just a few hours prior.  Once Ash’s mother manages to discover that the evidence against her was forged, it’s too late: the Hemlock is underway and the prisoners have staged a rebellion that left them in control of the ship and of a very useful hostage…

What follows is a madcap chase through the galaxy, with stopovers on various alien planets, as the group searches for the coordinates to Arcadia, where they will be free: for Ash, who finds herself in a very dangerous situation given her company, the adventure will also turn into an eye-opening journey where she will learn about the Commonworld’s dark side and will get to know her traveling companions, some of whom are not truly criminals but rather victims of the government’s ruthless strategies.

With such intriguing premises I frankly expected something more, but was somewhat disappointed: this first season is mildly enjoyable and each episode holds enough twists and character reveals to prove engaging, but I could not shake the feeling that both creators and cast did not give their best here.  More than once, moving from one episode to the next, I wondered if I had not missed some other narrative segment, because the story felt uneven, missing some vital connection that would make the current situation more clear: while I don’t enjoy long, drawn-out info dumps – in any medium – much of what was presented on screen seemed to suggest a kind of background knowledge that was never offered to the viewers, which gave the narrative flow an uneven quality that inflicted a serious handicap to the show’s overall quality.

Characterization suffers its own troubles as well: what could have been a refreshing, all-female crew (there are also two men on board, but they mostly remain on the margins of the story), squandered its potential by turning these women into merely aggressive stereotypes, once again reinforcing the notion that strength in a woman has to express itself into belligerence and outright hostility.  This less than original choice was compounded in some instances by over-the-top acting that felt far too excessive to be credible, and by several lines of dialogue that went from unsubtle to cringe-worthy.  Feeling a connection with these characters proved quite difficult, if not impossible, and even when some revelations about their individual pasts hinted at the possibility of seeing the real person behind the mask, their return to the previous, wildly hostile behavior obliterated any chance for real character growth.

Still, there is some potential in this story, whose short run of only 8 episodes probably penalized its possibilities for a more organic development: from the middle of the season, several elements seem to point out toward a wider narrative scope, and for this reason I will give the next season of this series a chance, to see if it possesses the “courage” to evolve beyond the stereotypes it leans on and to find a better-defined identity. First seasons tend to suffer from growing pains, and I’m curious to see if Intergalactic can go beyond these pains and turn into a story worth following.

My Rating:

24 thoughts on “INTERGALACTIC – Season 1 (spoiler-free review)

  1. This is the first I’ve heard of this, and it’s too bad it was only average. The premise sounds like every other sci-fi premise out there, to be honest. But you never know if you don’t try it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is one thing that worked in its favor: it was not gloomy and hopeless as many new SF offerings tend to be these days, so even if it was not exactly what I expected, at least it did not dampen my spirits, and that’s something! 😉

      Like

  2. Thanks for the review. I’ve only vaguely heard of this, so it’s so far only been on the edge of my radar. I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to check it out any time soon, since my tv time is limited and there’s so much choice out there in terms of sci fi!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Umm I think I’ll steer clear. Not much time or even inclination lately for series (I abandoned Umbrella Academy before the end of S01 ;)), and you make a clear case of this being a very average (even if not gloomy ;)) series. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I tried watching this one – and got halfway through the second episode, but by then I found the whole setup far too annoying. The stupidly violent behaviour of the prisoners… the ludicriously careless behaviour of the prison wardens… the wide-eyed shock of Ash (which frankly had me wishing she’d been gunned down in the first episode) meant that I didn’t want to bother getting any further.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ash is the character I liked less (just to be nice about it): for a trained police officer she showed far too little spine IMHO. I kept watching in the hope that the story would take flight, and from mid-season there was some improvement, but only the second season will help me decide whether to continue watching or not…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I’m glad you pointed that out. For a highly training, high-achieving police officer, she appeared to be utterly hopeless!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it improves for you during Season 2 – and go on watching Friends and The Big Bang Theory…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think your excellent review is spot on – and probably a lot fairer than my rather jaundiced take on this series. Unfortunately, I run out of patience VERY quickly with the mediocre sci fi fare we’re generally treated to on TV:)).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here, but at least in this case there was none of the hopelessness and dark despair of many contemporary series or movies – just to quote two I saw on Netflix: Stowaway (which I stopped watching midway through) and Oxygene (which I refused to watch).
      SIGH… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh there is that! I started watching The Expanse, but quickly stopped as I couldn’t face all the misery unfolding in that, either… I also stopped halfway through Stowaway and couldn’t face the bleak dynamic, either!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In defense of The Expanse (biased as I confess to being…) it does soon evolve from the misery of the Belters’ situation to a high-adrenaline adventure mixed with ruthless politics, so I would encourage you to try again when your mood allows it…. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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