“Project Apollo cost 100 billion in adjusted dollars. The Panama Canal took 27,000
lives. On a project of this scale, setbacks are to be expected.”
—- Harris Enzmann
That quote pretty well sums up the attitudes that led to the Ascension Project, which is not what it appears to be. The true nature of ASCENSION is not revealed until the end of Episode One, and even at the end of the miniseries the goals of the project are only vaguely explained.
The ship began its journey in 1963, with 600 people on board. In fifty years of isolation from the rest of humanity, the on-board society has stratified. A working class has developed and is unofficially segregated from the rest of the population. We now know that it is highly questionable that a population that small could create a sustainable colony, but in the 60’s it would have been considered more than sufficient.
There are pigs on board. The notion of carrying actual pigs as food animals should have been as ridiculous then as now. In the closed environment, the diet would need to be vegetarian for efficiency’s sake. If animal protein was needed, it could come from farmed insects, or smaller mammals, possibly rodents, that breed quickly. One would think any Ascension biologist would have noticed the absurdity of the livestock, and become a bit suspicious.
ASCENSION was a CBC/SyFy collaboration, but (in contrast to many other SyFy shows) its future is not dystopian. Instead, it involves a wonky sort of utopia, run in absentia by a messianic madman sexually obsessed with Dr. Bryce to the point that he is married to her look-alike. (At one point he arranges to steal Juliet’s seahorse necklace, then gifts it to his wife and insists she wear it during sex.)
Passengers and crew are given to swimming in their underwear. Apparently many of them have lots of leisure time which they mostly use for political intrigue and sex. Only young Christa (Ellie O’Brien) has some notion of what’s really going on, and even she is not aware of her own importance and central role in the scheme of things.
The show is fast-paced and never dull. Harris Enzmann (Gil Bellows) is the spookiest, creepiest, ickiest character to be seen on television in a long while, and, since the ending of the miniseries is most unsatisfying, Ascension’s mission should definitely continue.
Lauren Lee Smith (Samantha Kruegen) will be Heather Mitchell in the next Jeremy Lalonde feature HOW TO PLAN AN ORGY IN A SMALL TOWN. She also stars as Samantha Davis, who inherits a possibly haunted country home in the film HUNTING SEASON (Also in the cast are Kris Holden-Ried and Shawn Doyle.) The film has only been released in Spain thus far.
Wendy Crewson (Katherine Warren) is Dr. Dana Kinney on SAVING HOPE. She is also Sheila in FALL, a film (released last October) about a Niagara Falls priest (Michael Murphy) who is accused of misconduct. The cast of FALL also features Katie Boland and Linda Kash, and the film has received five CANADIAN SCREEN AWARDS nominations.
Rachel Crawford (Ophelia) is also Sarrah in episode 4 of another CBC miniseries, THE BOOK OF NEGROES, which first aired 28 January. She was also Catherine in seven episodes of CONTINUUM.
ASCENSION PREMIERES IN CANADA 9 FEBRUARY AT 9pm EASTERN ON CBC