Review: Syfy's 'Ascension'

There’s trouble in paradise on the spaceship Ascension. Except it isn’t.

Ascension definitely isn’t paradise. We learn that within minutes of the opening episode of this three-night original drama (the only one reviewed). Instead, we hear from a beautiful young woman’s recorded testimony, Ascension is a trap. Fifty years into a multigenerational voyage of 600 souls headed toward a prospective new planetary home for humanity, young people are restless and disillusioned. Their parents signed on for this top-secret mission during the Kennedy administration, and the kids may or may not be alive when it all ends.

Civilization aboard Ascension is stratified. Upper deckers, nearer the astral observation areas, are the elite, while lower deckers, down in the water reclamation zone, are a caste below them. Crime is occurring. Betrayals are happening. Conspiracies are cooking.

It’s an intriguing concept: 1960s rocket and computer technology actually being capable of launching and sustaining a century-long flight between the stars. Back on Earth, at least one enterprising researcher believes he knows what’s happening, that the Ascension launch, long considered a mad scientist’s crazy dream, really took place, and wants to get the story out. But could the government really pull this off, in secret?

Something’s definitely happening on board the Ascension but it’s not necessarily what it appears to be.

The acting is solid and Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer is a welcome reminder of the space drama grandeur that once ruled on Syfy. The sets and computer-generated architecture are cool. I’m not sure it’s all pulled off in a fully compelling way, but that might change when I see where it all lands.

(Note: this review was published in Multichannel News with the incorrect air date. Ascension airs Dec. 15-17.)

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.