Earth 2 was a short-lived primetime family sci-fi series that debuted in 1994 on NBC. It is set in 2192, during a time when the Earth has become almost completely uninhabitable (I’m guessing because of the continued production of Tyler Perry movies). Most human beings live aboard space stations that orbit the Earth.
Not only are things on Earth generally crappy, but a condition known as “the syndrome” affects many of the children born on the space stations. It makes them all pale and skinny and forces them to wear weird grey cyborg jumpsuit things. The uber-rich Devon Adair, who has the distinction of being TV’s first female sci-fi commander and who is also completely forgettable, has an annoying son afflicted by this condition and decides to throw together a ragtag team of people to strike out for greener pastures. In this case, the pasture is a hospitable planet 22 light years away.
And so begins many of the shows nebulous and unexplained plot points. You see, the Earth government doesn’t officially recognize “the syndrome” as being a thing, for some reason. Devon knows it is and decides that it would be better for her son to go to another planet, because being non-earthbound might cause the syndrome, somehow.
On their way out of port, the crew discovers a bomb aboard their ship, but thankfully they get rid of it before it ends the show during the pilot. The bombers were revealed later in the series to my complete indifference.
After a 22 year cryosleep, the crew crash lands on a brand spanking new planet and our adventures begin as the crew crawls their way towards a site called New Pacifica, their intended permanent home.
The show has eight main players.
The aforementioned Devon Adair and her super annoying son feature heavily.
There is no nonsense working man John Danziger (played by Clancy brown) and his daughter Tru.
Pre-manslaughter conviction Noxema girl Rebecca Gayheart and her husband Morgan, played by the worst actor ever in the history of television, John Gegenhuber, bring down every scene they’re in. Though Rebecca’s breasts remain always perfectly framed and presented through her choice of completely practical survival wear.
There’s a doctor with a cool medical hand scanner.
There’s Antonio Sabato Jr., a guy who pouts and complains a lot.
And lastly, there’s Yale, a former violent criminal who has been turned into a nanny thanks to a government chip being implanted in his head.
Oh, and there’s a robot who just kind of carries stuff, and more settlers that we neither meet nor care about, and Lost’s Terry O’Quinn shows up occasionally, too.
There’s also a lot of the usual generic science fiction gadgetry like big impractical-looking guns, virtual reality headsets, and one very unimaginative, giant Hummer vehicle. Quite the optimistic view that Hummer would be around in 2192.
Our settlers quickly find out that they are not alone in their new locale. The planet is home to a species known as Grendlers. They are large hunchback things that just wander around and steal stuff from the settlers. And even more menacing than them are the Terrians, a race of desiccated sand people that tunnel underground and communicate through telepathy on the dream plane. I guess I should have mentioned there’s a dream plane. The Terrians really only talk to Antonio Sabato Jr., for reasons unexplained. They were probably fans of General Hospital. But they do take an interest in Devon’s son and seemingly cure him of the syndrome, for reasons unexplained. Sadly, his annoyingness is never cured.
The Grendlers and Terrians generally provide most of the episodes’ plot points save for the occasional treachery or unexpected discovery or overarching evil conspiracy.
I love the idea behind the series, and I love that it was a primetime family sci-fi show on a major network, but overall the show is not so great.
The acting ranges from decent (Clancy Brown) to laughable (John Gegenhuber), and I never really cared about any of the characters.
The show’s high point comes early in the season with a multi-episode arc featuring Tim Curry at his Tim Curry-est. It’s great to watch him chew the scenery and spit it out with his usual flare. Once his story concluded, I quickly lost interest and found the rest of the show a chore.
The season ends on a cliffhanger leaving almost every plot point unexplained. Usually I’d find that frustrating, but at that point, I was just glad it was over. Actually, thanks to the geniuses at NBC and Netflix, the cliffhanger season finale was followed by two random episodes that should have been inserted into the middle of the show’s run. Thanks.
Earth 2 is an ok watch if you can stomach it. It’s pretty saccharine and oftentimes cheesy, but I give it credit for trying. With a few minor tweaks, like a whole new cast, better writing, and better direction, this show could work.
It has taken me over a year to get through the entirety of Earth 2 and there are only 22 episodes. That probably says the most about the show. If you’re going for wholesome sci-fi from this era, skip Earth 2 and just watch seaQuest DSV. It’s got a talking dolphin.