Whereas the thematic focus of Star Trek, TV's outer space standard bearer, has always been the
exploration of new worlds and its main characters' attempts to make the universe a warm and
happy place, Fox Broadcasting's Space:Above and Beyond tells stores of violence, emotional
terror and desperate attempts to stay alive.
"This show is really the exploration of our characters in the crucible of war," says co-creator and
executive producer James Wong. "We put them into these incredible situation and see what
comes out of it, how they react to each other and how they react to fear. How will they have
changed when it's over? We want to deal with the characters more than we want to deal with
going through a wormhole. We want to see how these guys react when they're faced with death,
as well as the difficult personal decisions they have to make."
Space:Above and Beyond is set in the year 2063, a future in which humankind has begun to
colonize other worlds. A group of colonists plant themselves on an uninhabited planet many
light years away, but shortly after their arrival they're annihilated by a previously unknown alien
race. Before news of this attack can reach Earth, though, a second ship to is scheduled to depart.
Among the colonists-to-be are Nathan West and his girlfriend, Kylen. But in a future in which
affirmative action still has a foothold, West loses his spot to an "In Vitro," a race of test tube-created humanoids who were originally bred to serve in menial positions but are now fighting
for their rights as equals. So West remains behind--temporarily, he believes--while Kylen sets
off with the rest of the colony. Inevitably, they meet the same fate as their predecessors.
When word arrives of the tag-team slaughters, Earth mobilizes for war. West believes his only
hope of being reunited with Kylen--whom he vainly convinces himself is still alive out there--is
to join the marines. Among those in West's unit aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga (essentially a space
faring aircraft carrier) are Shane Vansen, a woman with a painful past, and Cooper Hawkes, an
In Vitro who has been unjustly sentenced to serve in the military. The exploits of this trio and
their unit dominate the series. At the same time, the war gradually reveals clues about the
merciless aliens and their aims.
We intentionally decided not to show too much of the aliens early on," says Wong. "We thought
it would be better to keep the audience wanting more rather than shooting our whole wad at the
beginning of the season."
Co-creator Glen Morgan explains that he and Wong have taken a lesson from the UFO-themed
episodes in the first season of The X-Files, on which they both served as producers. The first
such show had Agent Fox Mulder struck by the traditional blinding beam of light from an
overhead spacecraft. From that point on, each subsequent episode in the arc brought Mulder--and the audience--a little closer to actual contact.
"I think as we go to 22 shows we'll show more and more about the aliens," says Morgan.
"Although the toy [merchandisers] want us to do a whole thing about the aliens, I think we're
going to handle it a little more slowly. Our heroes come across strange things the aliens leave
behind after a battle, which provides a mystery element to it."