'The Expanse,' Season 1 - TV Review

A 10 episode first season produced by the Syfy Channel, based on the novels of James A. Corey (who turns out to be Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). The series is set two hundred years in the future (according to Wikipedia - I guess I wasn't paying attention), and humans have populated most of the Solar System. But tensions are running high between Earth, Mars, and the Belt. Not that this is anything new: Corey is just using the politics of Colonialism to create a higher tech political drama. Our main characters are Earth politician Chrisjen Avasarala (Shoreh Aghdashloo), a charming lady who will betray or torture anyone if she thinks it will prevent a war, Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), a drunken Belter police detective slowly finding purpose, James Holden (Steven Strait), an intelligent but responsibility-avoiding Earther who works as an ice miner in the Belt, and Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) who is Holden's very sharp Belter crew mate.

One of the first things that happens is that the mining ship Holden and Nagata are on is blown up while they're out on a rescue mission ... but the attacking ship doesn't blow up their shuttle. Why not takes several episodes to clear up. At the same time, Miller has been assigned to find Julie Mao (Florence Faivre) - a job that starts to straighten him out. She was flying on the ship Scopuli, which is the one that Holden and Nagata were trying to rescue when their ship was blown.

The characters are exceptionally good. They could be accused of being too broad, but I was amazed at how distinctive they were without (generally) being over-the-top. The story is ... well, just politics. It's quite well done, but this could as easily have been set as some form of colonial war between Europe, the U.S., and Africa (had such a thing happened). But they're also mostly getting the science fiction elements right (discussing military threats in the form of approaching ships that are two days away, flipping ships to thrust in the other direction ... are we finally going to lose swooping in space forever?!). An absorbing if somewhat dark piece of work, I'll check out the second season when I get the chance.