The Sixties were a tumultuous decade to say the least.
The certainty of the rigid and often blatantly sexist and racist social mores of the ’50s and early ’60s were swept aside as the counter-culture “Flower Power” revolution gained momentum, a host of countries around the world gained independence, the Vietnam War began, the Beatles became the musical lingua franca of an entire generation … and President Kennedy sent a massive spaceship containing 600 colonists off into the far reaches of space …
Wait … WAIT! You missed that one?
Well that makes sense since it didn’t really happen except in the galaxy-spanning imagination of writer Philip Levens (Smallville) who has come up with a show, Ascension, debuting on syfy on November 24, in which the leadership of the USA, unnerved by the escalating tensions of the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and the possibility that humanity may be wiped off the face of the earth by zero sum warfare, sends a vast generational ark ship off to colonise a new distant world and thereby save our collective bacon.
It all sounds gloriously and wildly idealistic and optimistic and at the time, at least in Levens’ version of it, it most certainly would have been, as with most things in that era … but what about 50 years later when the spaceship is nearing the point of no return – is the rosy vision of the future still intact and will their mission succeed as planned?
Not really, no.
Humanity, which is often inspired by the same ideals it fundamentally fails to live up to, is alas up to its old tricks, with the murder of a young woman, the first homicide in the entire voyage, unleashing a tidal wave of uncertainty in the hermetically-sealed ’60s-styled community – who look for all the world exactly like we imagined the future would look like back in the middle of the 20th century – which begins to question why they are on the mission at all.
It looks and sounds like a gripping six hours of television, and if all goes well, this “limited series” (aka mini-series) as syfy are terming it, could well lead to a full blown series deal much like Battlestar Galactica did.
Till them strap on your jetpack and prepare to blast off into one of the most imaginative takes on dystopian sci-fi we’ve seen in quite a while.