In no small part because Amazon’s founder is a fan, “The Expanse” was snatched from the jaws of cancellation. Isn’t it great when a billionaire like Jeff Bezos uses his power for good instead of evil?
And a billionaire spending millions to produce a fourth season of “The Expanse” is a far better use of his money than, say, financing your own campaign for president. The show will make a lot of people happy for years to come. The campaigns … probably not so much. Just sayin’.
Despite being the best new outer-space show since the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot went off the air in 2009, “The Expanse” limped along in the ratings for three seasons on Syfy. So it wasn’t a big surprise it was canceled.
But the best thing that can happen to a canceled TV show is when one of its biggest fans has a fortune estimated at more than $100 billion — and when that guy just happens to own a streaming service.
The co-CEO of Alcon TV, Andrew Kosove, told the Los Angeles Times that “The Expanse” is “Jeff Bezos’ favorite TV show,” adding that Amazon’s picking up the series “was because of Jeff Bezos.”
Cool. Fans (like me) cheered the announcement. We couldn’t wait to see Season 4, which starts streaming Friday on Amazon.
However … if you’re a newcomer, wait. Go back and watch Seasons 1-3. Don’t try to just jump in and watch Episode 37, watch episodes 1-36 first. They’re all streaming on Amazon.
I tell you that partly because the first 36 episodes are really good, and I wouldn’t want you to miss them. And because, honestly, if you don’t, you’re going to be confused.
Set 200 years in the future, “The Expanse” takes place in a time when humans have colonized the solar system. There’s no faster-than-light travel, so journeys to other star systems are not possible. And the first three seasons not only encompassed war among Earth, Mars and the inhabitants of the asteroid belt, but massive conspiracies — and there are others that have still to play out.
(Yes, I’ve read all eight novels and the novellas on which “The Expanse” is based. And I can’t wait until the ninth and final novel by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck — writing under the pen name James S.A. Corey — is published in 2020.)
The catalyst through Seasons 1-3 was the protomolecule — sent to our solar system millions of years ago by extraterrestrials but trapped on an ice moon orbiting Jupiter. It transforms whatever living material it touches — including humans — creating [SPOILER ALERT] a gate that will allow ships to quickly travel from our solar system to 1,300 other systems across the galaxy.
The race that built the rings is dead; what killed them might not be. And Season 4 takes our heroes — James Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) and Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) to a new system that’s even more inhospitable than it first appears.
Even longtime fans of the show will have to give Season 4 some time to develop. It’s a bit of a slow start. But, if you’ve read the books, you know big things are coming.
Yes, there are differences between the books and the TV series, because they’re wildly different mediums. But I’m both obsessed with the books and delighted by the TV series.
The biggest differences as “The Expanse” transitions from Syfy to Amazon is that episode lengths vary a bit (all an hour-ish or less) and the characters get to swear a lot more. But other than that, it's the same show.
Thanks, Jeff Bezos! And thanks for ordering Season 5 already!