Earth: Final Conflict (1997–2002)
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This part goes for the first season: E:FC was one of the most promising science fiction series I ve ever seen. The talons where so completely differnt from all the other alien races in other series. These were no humans with cheap makeup in the face (star trek anybody?), or the nasty nasty aliens from trash sci fi. This race were different. They had their goals, they had their owns definition of moral. But even though they have made "mistakes" in the first season too you always believed that they wanted to help the people. But not only the talons were good. The leading character (Boon), a spy working for the talons and the resistance at the same time. Wearing a alien life form as weapon, lost his wife due to the deeds of the talons, getting a good friend of Da'an. This character was really promising. So was Sandoval, who acted like he acted cause he had a working CVI. IMO the best story of the show was Sandovals freed from the CVI for a short time. Thats were you were able to see the real depth and tragedy of this character.
Now to the later seasons:
I hate them. They destroyed everything that was differnt about E:FC. Just take the new main character Liam. This guy got no past, no personality and he even loses his alien side! "Wheres your shakarawa liam? Oh, I lost it..." DOH!!! And on the top of this the talons became more and more the evil aliens we all know from thousand other science fiction stories...
I suggest you watch the first season of this series. Its really worth it. But then forget it. Dont watch the later seasons. They are destroying everything.
Instead of rehashing the same opinions and going where everybody's gone before, I will add a few of my own thoughts on the series. There are some spoilers ahead but since the series had run its course I will only give this sparse warning.
It's obvious Roddenberry's concept was fascinating as we can see in s1. What makes me wonder is just what WAS the original concept for the following seasons? What elements followed his concept and where did the show depart? It would seem that the concept of the Taelons' desire to use humanity to help them defend against the Jaridians was part of the original concept. So was the concept that humans had the potential to help but were not considered sufficiently evolved; the tension arising from the Taelons' differing views on what to do about it. It would also seem the ultimate resolution to this conflict was to be the joining of the Taelons and Jaridians with the help of the humans.
But what went awry? How detailed were Roddenberry's notes and where were the writers left on their own? What I noticed in general is that the series lacked CONTINUITY. One gets the feeling the writers were constantly changing their minds.
As has been noted, cast changes, starting with Boone's death, did not help keep the continuity. Liam's character was an example of this changing of direction and concept. First, his appearance was too "magical". He was too superhuman, in contrast to Boone's very human character. OK, fine. If you're going to have a superhuman character; then let him play the role and let the 'human' drama play around him. Yet suddenly we see Liam, this 'chosen being', acting more and more like an ordinary human. A change of direction. Then it's obvious the writers change their mind again and try to humanize him. They later even made him 'completely human', which completely contradicted his original concept. It became obvious the writers were changing their minds about what they wanted him to be. His character changes were symptomatic of the overall treatment of the series as it progressed.
Much of the overall concept and 'feel' seemed to keep changing as well. Most drastically in s5 when it's painfully obvious this was an ad hoc plot extension. Possibly because the show was supposed to end at the end of s4 but then they decided to stretch it out another season. Sorry - didn't work. s5 was an entirely different show from s1.
I don't believe I've ever seen a show decline quite the way this one did. I don't even consider s5 as part of the original concept... but even s1-s4 seemed to lose it after the original season. Which is too bad as it could have been one of the most interesting SciFi series ever.
Probably not enough of the mediocre typical TV viewing audience understood s1. One can only imagine that the forces of big-business media, which endlessly panders to the lowest common denominator, is the force which eroded what was initially an interesting concept.
What set EFC apart was it's amazing realism. The producers went to great lengths to fuse Taelon technology into earth's daily lives. The atmosphere alone is awesome. The characters are very human, even the Taelons. Despite their tranquil and sedated movements, they have their good and evil sides just like the rest of us. It is amazing how Gene Roddenberry was able to conceive that in a believable alien context. In the show, the Resistance is fighting as much against the Taelons as against humans. Every episode was filled with suspense. EFC is the prove that good story can win without huge SFX budgets. Mr. Roddenberry, YOU'RE THE BEST!
The consistent cast changes did hurt the show. But every thing was still in order: the Taelons with their hidden agendas, the humans still mixed with conflicting thoughts about their alien visitors. It's sad to see characters come and go, but the spirits were not lost. It is a little sad to see such a good show on a slow downward spiral. The realism is slowly taken over with special effects. Open land is replaced with Taelon-styled interiors, our heros' pistols are replaced with energy weapons, etc. But all were still in order......until the Atavus arrived.
That spelt the end of EFC (much like the marriage killed the Lois & Clark show). It took away a large part of what made the show interesting. The Taelons are gone, the humans no longer seem human, and the plot gets slower and slower by the episode. All the original characters are gone except Palmer. And the intelligence that was seen in earlier seasons are gone. I'm not going to get into details of why people didn't like season 5. It held together only long enough to give EFC a decent ending. I guess Mr. Roddenberry's notes were all used up by season 4. I bet this show would have excelled if he himself were here to steer it as it goes.
Despite its evident failure in season 5, EFC remained one of my favourites. It's a look into humans, and what we would have done if aliens do come. ("aliens" here refering to higher intelligence, not every other race of destructive monsters seen in other shows and movies)
Years 2-4: Mediocre, some nice short skirts from time-to-time but that's about all.
Year 5: Deus Ex Machina, and not in a good way. This season was a form of insanity. Watching the principles struggle through this silliness was very painful.
There are so many good TV shows today there's no point in watching this.
For older TV that blows away most of today's TV and movies check out:
The Prisoner (1967) The Singing Detective (1986) I, Claudius (1976)
I was a teenager (about 17-18) when I saw the first season on my local TV (back in '98) and I was immediately obsessed with this "alien" series! I do not recall that any TV show had such a strong impact on my poor little SciFi soul since I was a kid (hint: Star Trek - The Next Generation). This was something completely different, deep and exciting at the same time. I do not recall if any SciFi show took the challenge portraying a possible human-alien relationship in a deep social & philosophical way except EFC. Forget naive, mediocre, cheap plots served in most SciFi series (well, including famous The X-Files saga) with unexplored/unexplained "conspiracy" in the background. This show had had "something", I cannot define exactly what, some secret chemistry which filled every part of my heart & soul. Outstanding visual appearance, genuine alien make-up (& voice altering technique) created truly realistic in-depth portrait of the Taelons aliens in such a fashion unseen ever before. Every SciFi fan's dream almost became reality. Until recent months I was unable to see rest of the seasons and all this years I was really building a great expectation for it.
Where's Boone? First half of the season 2 had some serious problems, actors struggled with lack of continuity, Lisa Howard (Lili Marquette) and Richard Chevalleau (Augur) had a hard task to accept Richard Leeshock (Liam Kincaid) as their new "true" leader (so, Boone was just "warming us up"). Stories were predictable, with not enough philosophical depth. In fact, I think that entire 2nd season was a repetition of the very same stories (in mixed order) from the previous season - with the only one difference - main character was switched! Second half of season 2 finally landed on it's feet and succeeded to establish new order (deal with it - or leave). Liam and Lili became a "team" against the Taelons, with help of Augur, off course, great finale of season 2 was brilliant and unpredictable. Okay, I forgive "them" for the Boon's dead, just leave the main crew intact, OK?
Wait, now Lili's gone, too!? Season #3 - new shock! I thought that no one will ever leave this show (with great potential and initial story), but devil's never asleep. Again, stupid storyline, whenever a leading character "has to leave", writers incorporate that cheap moral stuff like: "This is my destiny" or "I have to leave now... I feel it was meant to be". Anyway, season #3 was interesting in some moments, but not in original fashion that season 1 introduced. Introduction of Renee Palmer (Jayne Heitmeyer), actress that really has a potential but def. not in SciFi series (rather in some action/love genre) gave a hard effort to look as realistic resistance fighter. Later, in season #3 she manages to grasp chemistry with Liam, but that will never be the same as Lili had with Boone. Kevin Kilner was great, his face had so many layers - it looked as he was serious & smiling at the same time, it was mystical, same as show. Liam's appearance was so much simpler, naive, how should I say... straight forward ("I am a good guy, you can trust me"). Reccuring role of Lisa Howard as Lili Marquette at the season #3 finale was very poor and disappointing for me. I expected much serious approach, there was no trace of old Lili I've used to know, she changed a lot somehow... a warrior, a temperament mystic girl evolved to a soft 'mother'. (Personal observation: Lisa Howard was pregnant during the season #2 and eventually became mother in real life (daughter Sofia), so this was maybe the intended "parallel" writers used in the show, but that was so off-the-original-course I actually expected - a much serious real Jaridian invasion was in order).
And so the 4th season began... guess who's missing now? Frustration about Lili left a bitter taste in my mouth, now Augur left the series from this point (appeared later in 3 episodes as a guest star) and was "replaced" with some neurotic funny girl named Street (Melinda Deines). Perhaps casting personnel really discovered Melinda on the street and that's how she got her name "Street" in the show. :) First half of season #4 was pretty much the same thing as major episodes in season #3, even worse 'cause Augur wasn't there; constant drifting around the same plot variations (e.g. Taelon conspiracy & experiments on humanity), simple, one-dimensional characters and plot layering almost burned out all the efforts incorporated before. But suddenly there comes a breakthrough: from the episode 4.13 "Dark Matter" series finally finds new way, almost sound like the writers decided to get back on original course and from that point new hope reveals on dark horizon. Unfortunately, not for long
And now for something completely different: No more Taelons, no more Da'an (great Leni Parker and yes, she's a woman!), no more Jaridians... only beasts and Pam Anderson :) I really wasn't strong enough to watch entire last season. Complete disaster of anything was told from the very beginning, a rip-off version other mediocre shows like Buffy, Angel, poor elements of Alien (Sigurney Weaver). New faces came out of nowhere brings the show to the dead end. Even Boone's Awakening was done intensionally, probably to boost poor TV rating... for viewer's sake, why didn't awakened him few years earlier???
Final words: Conclusion is impossible for such a multi-dimensional series (after all), there's always a hope (as Da'an used to say): some day humanity will evolve to a new level (maybe) where those mistakes seen in this TV series won't happen anymore. Maybe there will be a remake some day, even full feature movie (who knows), but for me now only exists 4 seasons of this great show and I imagined my own version of the end. ;-)
As for EFC's weaknesses: William Boone is somewhat monotone in his delivery, yet by the end of the series he still comes across as a likable character. Liam Kincaid is the stereotypically perfect, morally righteous character. While every other character undergoes moments where their moralistic nature fails, Liam comes across as a Jesus figure, which may be accepted by some while scorned by others. It's true that Season 5 completely destroyed the series. It felt like a complex battle of wits and treachery was suddenly transformed into an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That said, Season 1-4 presents a science fiction that is fresh and captivating.
Unfortunately, the loss of Kevin Kilner as Boone towards the end of the first season, signaled the beginning of a string of cast changes that disrupted the continuity of the series and the story line (to paraphrase a line from "The Outlaw Josey Wales": when I get to liking a character, they don't stay around very long). Robert Leeshock put in a fine performance as Liam Kincaid; but I felt Liam became less interesting the more "human" he became. As part alien, he straddled both sides of the fence and could bond with Da'an in ways that no human ever could; but as a human, he was just one more resistance fighter.
Another disturbing trend--and maybe it's my own imagination--was the tendency to cast women based on their brassiere sizes. I thought nothing of it with Lisa Howard--I thought her portrayal of Lili Marquette was first-rate--but then with the introduction, shortly after Lili's disappearance, of Jayne Heitmeyer as Renee Palmer, I became more suspicious. The final straw was Lori Alter's well-endowed and scantily-camisoled Ehrengraf wrestling with Liam in the final moments of "Emancipation". All we needed was the Jell-O. Were they TRYING for the adolescent male audience? I'm not criticizing the acting abilities of any of these women; I'm just saying that it was hard to take the series seriously after that.
Finally, would it have been rocket science to choose a less transparent name than Doors International? Jonathan DOORS--Bill GATES??? (Not to mention Microsoft WINDOWS(R)!)
I can't comment at all on the fifth season--once I saw the Atavus appear and started reading some of the story lines, it just became too painful to bear.
The aliens -- the Taelons -- were quite well-done, I thought, the best part of the series. The Taelons are an energy-based species, whose bodies are little more than a shell. They seem somewhat ephemeral, almost celestial and ageless. Everything about them is precise and measured, and the actors convey this well in their careful and exacting use of English and their restrained motion.
My only regret (shared with many) is the loss of Kilner as Boone. I understand that it helps the realism to actually have heros die (it's what many do before they ever became great heros, even), but the show wasn't quite as good after. Kincaid was okay, but Boone helped the show as a very believable, very human character, in a setting where everyone else is hardly a "normal" human at all anymore. Unflappable but competent and skilled, Boone was nothing special except he was in the right place at the right time. Instead, we ended up with a human/alien hybrid who grew up within a day's time; and then a filthy-rich (well, formerly, perhaps) woman with a lot of favors to call in, on a personal crusade.
I am in the middle of Season 3 and find it hard to stop watching one after another. I watched all five seasons of Andromeda two years ago, proclaiming it as my all time fav, but this series has knocked it out of first position. Earth Final Conflict is now my all time favorite and I HIGHLY recommend this series!
In reality, people move, move on, die, change, change their political affiliations, come into your life out of the blue...all without reasons told or motivations revealed. Yeah, that's reality. And, yeah, that's EFC.
Apparently some viewers expected to hold onto their "favorite characters" as if they were somehow the only thing going on.
The only thing going on here was a story. A story which had changing characters but whose underlying story line took us to unexpected tangents, thrilling twists and high points few expected - or frankly: were ready to experience.
Television series are usually made to please the "comfort levels" of its viewers. The comfort level of 'continuing characters' or 'straight lines' in real life is a myth. Why rehash that? Why continue on copying old methods?
What have been indicated and vehemently declared as plot holes and other inconsistencies are, in fact, very consistent with reality.
In EFC, what would have been the purpose of simply using old, tired, time-tested methods to present a story?
Why couldn't a new approach work? Why would the Roddenberry legacy and its teams want to watch an old approach again?
I thought SCI-FI fans like myself, expected...no... demanded...that our stories be as real and unusual as possible?
With EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT, all that seemed old was discarded...and the result was an apotheosis of storytelling and with the final episodes, the result was cathartic and culminating to the nth degree.
Any other analysis is lacking in depth and displays attitudes where true freedom of thought and story development are stifled by worn-out conventions.
EFC is, was, a fine series and I believe that careful, patient study of the entire product is what it deserves.
From the start it's just horrible. 1960s soap opera horrible. Wooden acting, but at least they have unconvincing dialogue to deliver badly. Comical effects and prosthetics, which no one can see so they leave in the part where everyone is impressed by the weak spaceships and tiny sets. Impossibly trite storylines. Stupid characters, who cannot see the obvious and argue because that is what is on the page.
I'll give low-budget SF a chance if it tries. Babylon 5 is watchable to me, as an example. Hell, I watched half of The Starlost, and it was badly butchered and is cheap as hell. But no, just no to Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict.