For several weeks now I’ve watched, riveted, as the new show The Expanse unfolded on the TV screen. However, as a fan of the book series, I couldn’t tell if the show is good or if I was just enjoying seeing the characters and world come to life on television.
I’ve had the nagging feeling, though, that I was watching something special. I just couldn’t put my finger on it…until now. As the title suggests, I think The Expanse is The Wire–the acclaimed HBO show that made every other crime procedural look silly–but in outer space.
Hear me out.
The key feature of The Wire that made it different than every other cop show ever (other than great, flawed characters) was that each episode wasn’t self-contained. And not just in a Game of Thrones way where there are some ongoing story arcs. As in, it’s like they filmed a 10-hour movie and chopped it up into ten 1-hour segments. There was often no arc within each episode at all–it was just part of the greater whole.
The Expanse didn’t start off that way. The first episode had a mystery for one of the characters to solve, and he solved it. But we’re now 3 or 4 episodes in, and the remaining episodes have gone full Wire. Which is a very bold move to make.
In terms of the feel of the show, the closest comparison is Battlestar Galactica, except that show was highly episode, sometimes wrought with mysticism, and it included hyperdrives. There are no hyperdrives in The Expanse–everything is a slow burn. Things are far away from one another.
But it’s highly entertaining. It’s also a legitimate look at what our solar system might be in 500 years (maybe sooner).
I’m really curious to hear what people think of The Expanse if they haven’t read the book. If you can tell by my comparison to The Wire–one of my favorite shows ever–I certainly think it’s worth checking out.