The Ark opened with impressive effects but a tired story.
The Ark Season 1 Episode 1 told a familiar story of a crew in stasis being woken early unintentionally.
Sadly, the show didn’t add anything new to this overused plot device.
Going into the series, there was a sense of familiarity. Passengers waking up from their extended stasis before they’re supposed to? A mission to find a new world? A random stowaway? If these tropes feel familiar, it’s because they are.
Passengers (2016) is the *exact* plot, while many other forms of media (2014’s Interstellar, older Syfy series Dark Matter and Ascension, and even short films like Early to Rise) use similar tropes/stories. So, does The Ark add anything to this trope? Not really.
The Ark has a few things going for it concerning the solid female lead and the respectable special effects. It’s established early on that Christie Burke’s as Lt. Sharon Garnet took control.
Burke gives her all to the role and elevates a lot of the disappointing dialogue, but she can’t save it. The dialogue is choppy and underdeveloped and makes her character come off as whiny.
She decided she’d be in charge because she had the most experience. Which, in fairness, makes sense, but one of the other lieutenants (played by the dashing Richard Fleeshman) disagreed.
All the high-ranking officers died in the incident that woke everyone up, so they needed someone to take control.
Hopefully, she and the crew can step up their game because the crew already dealt with life support and oxygen issues.
The whiny dialogue doesn’t stick with one character sadly. Most of the characters on the show come off as whiny or know-it-alls. A few of the know-it-alls even made some near-deadly mistakes.
One crew member forgot to fill up some oxygen helmets, which almost caused upwards of 10 people to die. Another decided to hide oxygen tanks from the med bay for unknown reasons.
Many of these plot points are entirely forced and show no motivation other than to create drama. Speaking of no addition to the plot, there’s a random stowaway on board.
As if there weren’t enough issues for the sake of the problems, the stowaway plot got randomly thrown into the fray. He replaced an important science officer, and they eventually caught him and threw him in the brig.
They introduced this part of the story to end it quickly: Lt. Garnet and crew returned to the brig to find his throat slit. Did he kill himself? Highly unlikely; he got heavily chained up. So who killed him?
The story’s core plotline got wholly lost with all of the minor, weird aspects at once. The whole point of Ark One’s journey was to get to a new planet to colonize it, but the premiere episode revealed near-nothing to the audience about what the mission entailed.
Granted, they need to deal with the current issues (as there are many), but grounding it in the original mission would be helpful.
The story’s plot continued to get lost in the episode’s chaos, but there seems to be a bit of hope (for the characters and us viewers).
Despite the cacophony of voices involved in the new order on the ship, the three lead lieutenants (Garnet, Brice, and Lane) seem to have a good amount of knowledge that will be useful for the crew’s survival.
While that may be a convenient plot point, this crew got chosen for a reason (we hope): to find a new home for humankind. So why wouldn’t they be the smartest?
There’s a lot to improve, but it can be done. The three leads are strong, and even though they’re flawed like the rest of the crew, they seem intelligent enough to run the ship.
The show needs to organize itself. As it is now, a lot is going on. While it’s all related, we are getting too many points of view. There are too many cooks in the kitchen.
It’s also almost impossible to keep track of the characters’ names, as everyone is around the same age and going through the same motions of whiny panic.
Hopefully, some characters will branch off and get more of their personalities. Everyone experiences panic, and hopefully, once the panic settles, we get to see more of who these kids are as people.
The show also faces the possibility of falling into the “malfunction of the week” trope. By this, we mean: something going wrong and things getting solved JUST in the nick of time (as exampled in the first episode).
Dean Devlin and Jonathan Glassner are respected and accomplished science-fiction creators, so we have faith in their abilities.
Dean Devlin’s Independence Day (co-written with Rolan Emmerich) is often considered a Sci-fi classic.
Jonathan Glassner has had immense success since his executive producing and writing stint on Stargate SG-1.
These two creative minds working together should create some sci-fi magic, and the opportunity is there.
The show needs to organize itself structurally and not fall into typical, overused tropes (that it’s already started to overuse).
Despite the issues, many questions were raised in the episode for which we’d like answers.
Who offed the stowaway? What are the details of the main mission?
Will we ever get to know these characters beyond surface-level panic?
Will the crew survive the rest of their journey now that they’re awake? How will the makeshift leaders prove that they are good leaders?
Hopefully, these questions will get answered throughout the rest of The Ark Season 1.
So, Fanatics, what did you think of the series premiere of The Ark?
Will you be tuning into the rest of the season? Or will you voluntarily end your journey early?
Let us know in the comments below!
Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.