TV Review: Syfy’s ‘Ascension’

Syfy’s six-hour event series Ascension premieres Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET, and runs through Dec. 17. The space drama stars Tricia Helfer and Brandon P. Bell and is created and executive produced by Philip Levens. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Big, ambitious and more than a little weird, Syfy’s Ascension is being billed as a three-night limited-event series, which is misleading at best. That’s in part because this strange project ultimately feels more like a teaser for the hoped-for series to come, as its intriguing premise carries through the first two chapters before beginning to unravel in the third. Those who board the flight will likely be curious enough to want to see the trip through to its conclusion, but while there are strands of Battlestar Galactica in the project’s DNA, the idea never ascends to that level.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“The premise is interesting enough, the performances are top-notch and the plot trajectory’s actually going somewhere. For the moment, there isn’t a single negative thing that can be said about Syfy’s latest project, and the only thing there’s to hope for is that statement being able to remain true.”
—Merrill Barr, Forbes

“I like what I've seen, though there are more than a couple of moments where the only possible reaction is ‘Naaah.’ Still, whatever has been made or becomes of it, like the Bryan Fuller ‘failed’ pilot High Moon aired by Syfy this year, it has something a little different to show you.”
—Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

“The ship, a fantastic mod-futuro set, is part Titanic and part Pan Am jumbo jet, with a class-stratified society and flight-attendant escorts (madamed by Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer). But everything intriguing is nearly squandered by poor casting and clunky scripting. Still, I suspect the first night's climactic reveal, while clumsily foreshadowed, will make you return for the second.”
—Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly

“The main problem with Ascension is that its best feature — the promise of a succinct three-part story that ends — is something of a myth. There is already talk of making it a series. The opening installment is sharp over all but has squishy spots; that makes you wonder if the premise and the execution are up to the challenge of a series run.”
—Neil Genzlinger, New York Times