SyFy cancels “The Expanse,” and the grieving begins…

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I’ll admit; I’m a Johnny-come-lately to “The Expanse” party, and I’ve not read the books yet, either.  But I’m a sincere, devoted and passionate fan of this TV series, and it has filled the hole in my heart that’s existed ever since reimagined “Battlestar Galactica” ended its run in 2009…a hole that even BSG’s spinoff series “Caprica” couldn’t fill.

It took a while for me to warm up to the show.

“Tiptoeing into ‘The Expanse’…”

By Season 2 I was hooked.

“Wading deeper into ‘The Expanse’…”

I eagerly anticipated Season 3.

“‘The Expanse’ S3 premiere, ‘Fight or Flight’…

Now my dealer–er, pharmacists have cut me off, the bastards.

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^ Me, reading the news of “The Expanse”’s cancellation…

I cannot, for the life of me, understand the ‘wisdom’ of SyFy network’s decision.  Then again, save for the occasional prestige project (2000’s “Dune,” 2003’s “Battlestar Galactica,” 2015’s “Chidhood’s End”) SyFy is a network largely composed of “Sharknado” sequels, garbage reality shows like “Ghost Hunters”, and half-assed WB ripoffs (“Krypton”… surely to be followed by “Metropolis Cub Reporter, Perry White”).

^ “Sharknado 3”… this is more SyFy’s speed, I’m afraid.

Arguably “The Expanse” belonged on SyFy network about as much as a luxury yacht mooring at “Raging Waters” in San Dimas (see: “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”).

^  One of the brilliant makeups done on SyFy’s recently cancelled makeup competition series “Face Off.”   My wife and I love this show.

Now, that last bastion of solid, genuine science-fiction programming on SyFy has been given its hat and shown the door.   Shoddy treatment from a shoddy network.   Frankly, given SyFy’s reputation for killing off other quality programming (most recently the terrific makeup competition series “Face Off”), I shouldn’t be surprised; in fact, I’m not surprised…just deeply and profoundly disappointed.

Forgive the ranting, but I’m writing this post more to vent than anything else.

In addition to the gorgeous visuals, the fully-realized living universe and its various colonial cultures, the following is what I’m going to miss the most about the show:

The characters.

The Expanse - Season 1

The core characters on “The Expanse” are not always the most lovable people at times, but they definitely grow on you.  They’re a dysfunctional, complex, morally gray family and I’m going to miss the hell out of them.

Steven Strait in The Expanse (2015)

James Holden (Steven Strait) is probably the closest to an archetypal hero on the show, but he’s deeply flawed as well.  He’s in constant conflict between protecting his own and doing ‘the right thing’ (which is a variable within this universe), and sometimes he acts against his better angels.

Dominique Tipper in The Expanse (2015)

There’s also Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), the former Belter terrorist who is at least as morally righteous yet occasionally faltering as her lover Holden.   Tipper makes her so real and so lovable that you understand why even her dead-eyed sociopathic associate Amos would have a sort of fraternal affection for her (and maybe a bit more, at least at first).

Wes Chatham in The Expanse (2015)

Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) is utterly hilarious.  Dead-eyed soulless perfection.  At first seemingly freed of guilt or any other issues that plague ordinary humans with functional empathy, he’s slowly inching his way towards being a real boy, partly through his newfound ‘Odd Couple’ friendship with grieving father/scientist Dr. “Prax” Meng.

Terry Chen in The Expanse (2015)

Prax (Terry Chen) is another father with a ‘lost daughter’ who’s fallen victim to protomolecule exposure, much like the unethical businessman Jules-Pierre Mao (Francois Chau) who sought his own missing daughter Julie (Florence Faivre) during S1’s arc.   Unlike Mao, Meng is a decent, honest and intellectually curious man.  He also forms an unlikely friendship of sorts with Amos.  Prax’s bond with the wonderfully dead-eyed sociopathic Amos is like a house cat bonding with a great white shark.  But it works, as only it could on this show.

The Expanse (2015)

There’s also that other beloved member of the Rocinan–er, Pinus Contorta crew; ‘my favorite martian’ Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar).  Loved his evolution from naval bus driver to crack pilot over several seasons, and we see his progression.  His warm, slight Texan accent adds to a classic ‘flyboy’ persona that’s tempered with a left-behind family he still very much loves back on Mars.

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Anvar is the only actor in the cast that I’ve met in person, and I’m happy to say that he was a great guy.  He took our selfie above at this year’s WonderCon in Anaheim (he’s the good-looking fellow; I’m the big, goofy bastard in the “Stone Trek” cosplay).

I also enjoyed Anvar’s work in the brilliant online series “Star Trek Continues” final two episodes, “To Boldly Go” parts 1 and 2.

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I’m also enjoying Frankie Adams’ defected Martian marine, Bobbie Draper.   Her imposing physicality and manner mask the occasionally vulnerable, and I suspect, frightened girl within.

Draper’s circumstantial, mutually-beneficial partnership with Crisjen Avasarala takes on an almost mother-daughter aspect at times, with the two of them occasionally changing roles as they look out for each other.

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^ Crisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) looks like she’s preparing another one of her famous f-bombs…

 

Which brings me to my personal favorite character on the show, Crisjen Avasarala (played to perfection by the whiskey-voiced Shohreh Aghdashloo).  She’s evolved from a torturing, wonderfully foul-mouthed, vengeful politician into a… well, at least she doesn’t torture as much these days.  But goddammit, I love her all the same.  Much of that is due to the glimpses of her raw passion and humanity that seep into the character through the writing and through the earthy power of Aghdashloo’s performance.   She’s a marvel, both the character and the performer.   In the words of Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz”; “I think I’m going to miss (her) most of all.”  

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The other characters, villains and heroes, are all interesting to watch.   Most of them I’ve talked about at length in my other posts, so until my series recap, I’ll keep the rest of this post confined to the issue at hand; the cancellation of “The Expanse.”

 

The Future (?).

Aside from the 7 novels, with an 8th on the way, written under the nom de plume “James S.A. Corey” (nee: Daniel Abraham, Ty  Franck) what is the future (if any) for this series?

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Tahmoh Penikett, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)
^ “Battlestar Galactica” (2003-2009).  In many ways, a spiritual godfather of “The Expanse”…

There’s rumor and talk of the show being picked up by another network, and I would hope this is, in fact, the case.   Netflix, which used to stream SyFy’s “Battlestar Galactica” at one time, would be a natural fit for “The Expanse.”

As someone who fell in love with the show via rented DVDs (through Netflix’s offshoot, Discflix) it’d be nice to hear Crisjen’s curses uncensored again.    On SyFy channel, it’s still a bit odd to hear her throaty, perfectly placed f-bombs turned into freaking bombs instead (gotta love the arbitrary randomness of those US network censors…).

Since Netflix is so popular, the show would arguably be at least as accessible as it was on SyFy, if not more so.   Netflix is currently delivering the exciting new reboot of “Lost in Space” there as well, so another space series could make for a nice stable mate.

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^ Netflix’s “Lost in Space”; a slightly sunnier roommate for “The Expanse”?

Whatever happens to “The Expanse”?  I’m still grateful that I fell in love with the show, doomed or not;  just as I don’t regret falling in love with the ill-fated “Firefly” (though I fell in love with “Firefly” after its cancellation).

If it doesn’t get a new home?  There are always the books, and I could start reading them.  If nothing else, I’m driven by a desire to keep this story going.   Even if only in print…

^ For those who prefer a warmer, fuzzier universe?  There’s always “Star Trek”

The series, much like its spiritual predecessor “Battlestar Galactica” (2003-2009), paints a universe that it pretty much the upside-down to “Star Trek”’s sunny, utopian vision of an egalitarian Federation of Planets.   Both take place in the 23rd century, but they couldn’t be more different.  While “Star Trek” preaches that travel into the universe will somehow transform the human into a force for universal good, “The Expanse” shows us a more ugly truth… that as we reach out into the depths of space, we will be frightfully the same as we are now.   The primary difference is that we’ll have better, deadlier technology (including the dangerous race to appropriate the powerful alien “protomolecule”).

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While I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in “The Expanse”’s universe 24/7, I certainly enjoy spending an hour a week there, and losing myself in that darker vision of the future with its flawed, all-too-human characters.  Whatever fuel remains in the show (or the books), I want to go however far it takes me.

Long live the crew of the Rocinan–er, Pinus Contorta, and the morally gray, richly detailed universe of this fascinating space opera series.    It’s been a hell of a run, and with luck, it may not be over quite yet… I hope.

Wes Chatham and Steven Strait in The Expanse (2015)

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Matthew Russell says:

    Love this show
    Hope someone picks it up

    Liked by 1 person

    1. * repeats to self * “Netflix! Netflix! Netflix…”

      Like

  2. This is very fascinating, You are an excessively skilled blogger.
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    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing! 😊

      Like

  3. stucker2012 says:

    Love the books and show. Share your mourning. Think The Expanse is so good that Netflix or someone will pick it up. What an articulate guy you are. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading, as well as for affirming my hope that we’ve not yet seen the last of The Expanse. 😊👏

      Like

  4. I couldn’t really get into The Expanse myself, but I am all too familiar with what it’s like to lose a beloved show, so I feel your pain. I’m still sad about Dark Matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course just after I post this I find out that Lucifer’s been cancelled, too.

      At least iZombie got renewed…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My wife tried with Lucifer, but it didn’t stick. Then again, she’s a tougher critic than I am.

        Like

      2. It’s a bit of a dumb show, but it’s worth it just for how charismatic Tom Ellis is.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bill Doucette says:

    This is one of the more intelligent SciFi series to be created. The technology is based in actual limitations of space travel as well have known in reality. But even as they have avoided the techno fantasy future, the space flight and fight ship scenes are exciting.

    All the characters are compelling and the writing is excellent. To Cancel this show is ridiculous.

    Netflix would be making a wise decision to take over The Expanse. Its audience viewership will only continue to grow and there is so much possible new stories the show can explore. It will be a huge loss in the Eyes of Sci Fi loyal fans.

    Liked by 2 people

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