There's something sadly ironic about watching the space travelers in Earth 2 slip into a 22-year deep sleep while their ship heads for a new land.
Though the cast of the new NBC adventure is awakened after the next commercial, the audience isn't. And in two-hour late-season series debut, that sluggishness is a problem.
Earth 2, for those who haven't seen the promotions, is yet another attempt by Steven Spielberg (via his Amblin Productions company) to bring futuristic adventures to the small screen. Though tonight's opening episode has promise - due mostly to an intriguing storyline - the slow pace of the drama threatens to ground the show prematurely.
The premise is a fascinating one: Two hundred years in the future, well after the few remaining earthlings have been shepherded from the dying planet to giant, sterile orbiting stations, a group of renegades tires of the lifeless lifestyle that's killing them and their children. Like America's early pioneers, they set out for a new planet - one they hope to establish new traditions and a new human race.
But space travel will be space travel, and the mission is thwarted just before landing. Instead of paradise, they land in rugged, untraveled terrain. (The show is shot entirely in the Santa Fe, N.M., area.)
Like most adventure or sci-fi series, Earth 2 benefits from diverse casting, including not one, but two, single parents. Leading the crew is Debrah Farentino (most recently of NYPD Blue), an overly devoted mother willing to risk it all to save her young son.
She's joined by former General Hospital heartthrob Antonio Sabato Jr., Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) and Jessica Steen (Homefront), not to mention the requisite aliens.
But it will take more than a young, handsome cast to save this series. It's clear the journey across the vast planet to the paradise they seek will be long, and the path unknown.
Let's just hope the writers find a way to hasten the epic journey each week, or else viewers will zap the explorers before the aliens do.