Space: Above and Beyond

Lockdown 2020: Like many people I’ve spent a bit of time binge watching TV shows. Unlike some, I’m watching shows from the past that I enjoy. Much of modern TV doesn’t appeal to me.

I’ve just finished a complete re-watch of Space: Above and Beyond created by Glen Morgan and James Wong (both of X-Files fame) which ran for one season back in 1995-96.

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For the uninitiated, the show follows the exploits of the 58th Squadron, United States Marine Corps Space Aviator Cavalry also known as the “Wildcards” and their squadron commander Colonel TC McQueen. They are stationed on the space carrier USS Saratoga.

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The show follows a number of arcs which all crossover. The main arc is about the war against an alien race nicknamed ‘Chigs’. Two groups of colonists from Earth attempted to settle on planets far out in space. Unbeknown to them both planets were in Chig territory who saw this as an invasion and thus the war began.

Many years prior to the start of the show, humans had androids for servants. These androids eventually rebelled and the AI War began. The remaining AIs eventually set out into space and settled on various planets. It is implied in the story that the AI silicates had some involvement with the Chigs.

During the AI Wars, human scientists developed a race of artificially gestated humans known as ‘In-Vitroes’ or ‘Tanks’ which was a derogatory term due to them being grown in vats. These in-vitroes were bred for two purposes- the first to replace the AIs as a subservient underclass to humans and second to be soldiers in the war.

The final arc involved a tech company called Aero-Tech who had their own secret agenda when it came to the Chigs and their tech.

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Apart from Colonel “Queen 6” McQueen (James Morrison), the rest of the 58th were Capt. Shane “Queen of Diamonds” Vansen (Kristen Cloke), 1st Lt. Nathan “King of Hearts” West (Morgan Weisser), 1st Lt. Cooper “Jack of Spades” Hawkes (Rodney Rowland), 1st Lt. Paul “Joker” Wang (Joel de la Fuente) and finally 1st Lt. Vanessa “Ace of Hearts” Damphousse (Lanei Chapman).

At the start of the show the great R. Lee Ermey appears as Sergeant Major Bougus who whips the new recruits into shape!

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It’s an absolutely awesome show. I’d forgotten how much I like it. Both the story and the visuals still hold up very well today. Something I can’t say about other shows including Babylon 5 which I also love (sorry).

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Even though it only lasted one season, it had the most development I’ve ever seen for multiple characters over one season especially for in-vitro Cooper Hawkes, PTSD sufferer Shane Vansen, and Nathan West who was originally supposed to join a colony mission and only joined to search for his girlfriend. McQueen, also an in-vitro and veteran of the AI war and former leader of the 127th “Angry Angels” who were killed in the first major battle with the Chigs also changes over time.

I remember attending a con in Virginia in 1995 and one vendor had a number of tee shirts. I bought the Wildcards one (seen below on me with Gil Gerard and Erin Grey from Buck Rogers) and I wore it until it fell apart.

I really wish I could buy one again but I’m a big bloke and can’t get one in my size!

It really did end before its time. It ended on a cliffhanger- I’d love to know what Glen and James had in mind to finish the story off but I doubt it will ever happen unless I missed it in some form already….

I can see it being the sort of show being rebooted. Not sure how I’d feel about that!

Oh, and I wish folks would stop saying it stole from Starship Troopers. That’s very hard to do being that SAaB aired ’95-’96 whilst Troopers came out in late ’97 I believe!

If you have yet to see this show or you haven’t seen it for a while I’d recommend you go watch it. It’s worth every second!

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