Defying Gravity is a show that never really found an audience. ABC picked up the show a mere three weeks before the first episode aired, giving the network no time to market it properly. The network then pulled the plug on the show midway through the first season after only eight episodes aired. The show really began to assert itself as the season progressed, and it is unfortunate to see such a promising program be canceled prematurely. Thankfully, the option now exists for viewers to relive the first season in its entirety as it's now available on DVD, complete with the episodes that were not originally aired.
Defying Gravity takes place in the year 2052. Eight astronauts have been chosen to go on a six-year voyage through the galaxy in an unprecedented exploratory journey aboard the spaceship Antares. Don’t be put off by the very science fiction sounding premise, though—this show has a lot more to offer. The complex characters and relationships that make up this ensemble cast and the liberal use of flashbacks as narrative devices bring up appropriate comparisons to two other ABC staples: Grey’s Anatomy and Lost. Great use of the soundtrack also serves to enhance the emotional resonance of many key climactic scenes.
Ron Livingston (Office Space, Band of Brothers, Sex and the City) stars as Maddux Donner. Donner is a veteran astronaut who is haunted by a tragedy that occurred on a Mars mission from his past. Fans of Livingston will be pleased, as he gets to show off some range. From his unique comedic stylings to some dramatic moments, Livingston really owns the character. The rest of crew on the Antares are an international assortment of characters, each with interesting backgrounds. Laura Harris (Dead Like Me, The Faculty) plays Zoe Barnes. She is the ship’s geologist, and she serves as a romantic interest for Donner. Each crew member has secrets from their past that are slowly revealed as the show progresses.
The astronauts on board the Antares are unaware of the true nature of their mission. The cunning mission control flight director back on Earth knows more than he is letting on, and the crew of the Antares are subjected to hallucinations and odd physical effects due to some strange, confidential cargo on board their ship. This mystery serves as the primary storyline for most of the season, but viewers receive answers in the ninth episode.
The sets are really detailed, and the show often really looks as if it were shot aboard a huge spaceship. The set directors worked closely with NASA to create the most realistic possible layout for the ship, and they really did a fine job. The visual effects are good as well, as exterior shots of the Antares don’t look cheap or rushed.
For special features, this set doesn’t really offer that much. Twenty-nine deleted scenes are included but are rather forgettable. There are two featurettes that feature interviews with the cast and crew about the making of the show that are nice but rather short. Some photo slide shows feature some really neat concept art and sketches of the various sets and spacesuits and different promotional material. These offer a lot of insight into the attention to detail that went into the show. A really honest, in-depth look at why the show failed on network TV would have been nice. I suppose having the five episodes that never aired is a bit of a gigantic special feature in itself.
This show is entertaining, but if you have commitment issues then you deserve fair warning. Though many mysteries are solved, several are left without answers and the show does not wrap up nice and neat upon its conclusion. Answers to some of the looming questions from Defying Gravity have been made public by the series creator James Parriott through interviews. This definitely helps alleviate some of the pain, but instead of wallowing in sadness that the show is no more, instead enjoy the 13 episodes that are available.