12 July 2019

The Expanse

New sci-fi series don't come along that often, so I felt obliged to check out Amazon's The Expanse and offer my two cents.

It's unremittingly gritty, rather like a zombie movie without zombies. Nevertheless it holds the attention — though it lacks the pizzazz of, say, early Star Trek or the Alien movies. There is a hint of vintage Doctor Who, except the special effects are of course several notches higher.

There are other knowing references. At the dazzling secret centre of the plot (when we finally get there) there's an echo of one of the Star Trek movies — to avoid a spoiler I won't say which one. For rock fans there is even a possible link to an old Rush song, Cygnus X-1, though perhaps the writers were referencing Don Quixote directly in naming the starring ship Rocinante.

Inevitably perhaps, it's the female characters who are the interesting ones, rather than the men. British actress Dominique Tipper provides solid watchability — and cuteness, once we're allowed to see past her character's tough shell.

But it's Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo who is the real revelation. Oozing charm and psychological depth, she lights up the screen, providing the glamour without which the series might easily have sunk under the weight of its tattoo-sporting blokeyness.