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Chicago Sun-Times
November 6, 1994, Sunday News; Television; Pg. 51

'Earth 2' Set For Blastoff

By Lon Grahnke

Late in the 22nd century, there is no intelligent life on Earth. The last remaining human beings exist in the ordered, efficient confinement of sterile space stations.

Four generations earlier, Earthlings evacuated their ruined, toxic planet and established a rigid, high-tech society in orbit. Now children are dying from the Syndrome, a degenerative disease caused by the absence of fresh air, fresh water and sunlight -- the absence of Earth itself.

One industrious visionary, desperate to save her 8-year-old son, defies the totalitarian authorities and organizes an expedition to a distant planet suitable for colonization. This is the strange world of " Earth 2, " where humans are the alien space invaders.

Co-created by executive producers Michael Duggan ("Law & Order"), Carol Flint("China Beach") and Mark Levin ("The Wonder Years"), and developed by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television, NBC's bold new science-fiction drama is a weird Space Age blending of "Star Trek," "Wagon Train" and "The Twilight Zone." The exotic series, filmed in New Mexico, will premiere as a two-hour movie, starting at 6 tonight on Channel 5.

Debrah Farentino from "NYPD Blue" and "Equal Justice" establishes the forceful, rebellious character of decisive Devon Adair, leader of the renegade expedition. A satellite builder and devoted single parent, she will take any risk to give her dying boy (Joey Zimmerman as Ulysses) a chance to survive. "You're crazier than I'd heard," a crewman tells Adair.

The " Earth 2" pioneers include physician Julia Heller (Jessica Steen from "Homefront"), the trusty cyborg Yale (Sullivan Walker), pilot Alonzo Solace ("General Hospital" heartbreaker Antonio Sabato Jr.), mechanic John Danziger (Clancy Brown) and

his precocious preteen daughter, True (J. Madison Wright). Hampering their mission are deceitful bureaucrat Morgan Martin (John Gegenhuber) and his selfish wife, Bess (Rebecca Gayheart from "Loving").

After foiling an assassination plot and spending 22 years in "cold-sleep" storage, the adventurers crash-land on their target planet. They feel dirt for the first time and encounter native life forms -- cute little creatures and creepy subterranean kidnappers in "the dream plain" -- as they begin their long, dangerous journey to establish an outpost in the promised land. "It's our second chance," Yale says. "The odds are unbelievable."

And despite its impressive special effects and provocative premise, " Earth 2" faces tough odds on future Sundays from 6 to 7 p.m., airing against "60 Minutes."