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So, on Saturday, March 10th, I discovered that the old Science Fiction show The Starlost had been re-made into a new Hulu series, titled Ark. Knowing that Ellison, the father of Starlost, had hated the show and wanted it to be entirely different, I was pretty excited.


Wikipedia lied to me. To say Ark is based on The Starlost is about the same as saying Tron is based on Gulliver’s Travels. Sure, there’s a little similarity – Both Tron and Gulliver’s Travels are about a man exploring worlds they aren’t from, populated by creatures with completely separate ways of living than their familiar world; but one is about computer programs engaging in a revolution against a totalitarian master program, and the other one is Tron. You may know by now that I have not read Gulliver’s Travels.


Ark takes place on a space ship carrying humans who don’t know that they are on a spaceship at the start of action. The similarities end there. These humans come from at least 2 different periods of human history (probably more, but there are a total of five or six characters in the show, with three never appearing on the ship and one not speaking English), and wake up from some form of long term sleep-storage. They discover that on Earth, they are officially dead. They find a number of actually dead people on the ship, and there are bombs in some parts of the walls. And that is about the extent of what we learn about what’s going on over the course of the ~55 minute web series.


I’m actually not bothered by this lack of completion; it’s fairly well executed, the show leaving us befuddled and confused. It was obviously meant to continue into a second season, which never materialized. A significant portion of me really does want a whole lot more; there is a lot of potential in the plot. But I just can’t get past the fact that it has absolutely NO connection to what Wikipedia claimed it is a remake of. There are not pocket worlds on this space ship, so far as presented! There is no Planet-Saving reason for these characters to have been loaded onto the same space ship, so far as presented. Perhaps had there been a second season, things would have been explained. As it is? It feels like it wants to be simultaneously The 4400, Riverworld, and LOST. No one knows what’s happening! At the end, the MYSTERIOUS VOICE says “everyone’s here”, implying “the entire human race” (which was not suggested at all by what had happened so far)! And mysterious, seemingly senseless abduction! And it’s in SPACE.


 I like all three of those shows. And, in fact, I would LOVE the place where all three of those met.  What a powerhouse of a fiction that would be. If it were executed well.


 I don’t hate this show altogether. Like I said, I’m mostly angry about watching it under false pretenses (screw you, Wikipedia), so I’m biased against it. It’s fairly well paced, once you get past the first episode, which is just drab, obvious, ‘what the hell is going on” set up. Only one of the actors, the male lead, is terrible. And gosh is he terrible. He is unconvincing, with delivery that is forcibly “loose”. His dialogue is agonizing too. He’s from the 50’s, and he constantly calls the female lead “babe”. It’s just annoying. Even if it’s period appropriate, which I’m not sure of, it would be incredibly annoying. The rest of the dialogue isn’t great, but at least isn’t agonized.  And the mystery and tension is pretty well executed and established.


The show’s biggest saving grace is the set design. It’s stunning as hell. It’s not just decrepit spaceship like it could have been; there is apparent thought put into the structure of things. In the last scene of the series, we get a pan of the ship. It’s magnificent. It kind of resembles a jelly fish tree flying through space. Uh, or something.


Don’t bother if you’re expecting to see The Starlost executed well. Do if you are not at all upset about The Starlost being butchered by everyone who didn’t know what was going on, and would like some decent, poorly acted, and incomplete sci-fi.


Er, so don’t bother, most likely.

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