The Expanse (TV series)
|Based on||The Expanse series of novels|
by James S. A. Corey
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||36 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||Toronto, Canada|
|Running time||42–44 minutes|
|Original release||December 14, 2015 –|
The Expanse is an American science fiction television series developed by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on The Expanse novels by James S. A. Corey. The series is set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System and follows a disparate band of antiheroes – United Nations Security Councilwoman Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), ship's officer James Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew – as they unwittingly unravel and place themselves at the center of a conspiracy which threatens the system's fragile state of Cold War-like peace, the class balance, and the survival of humanity.
Critics have praised the show for its visuals, character development and political narrative. It received a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and three Saturn Award nominations for Best Science Fiction Television Series. Alcon Entertainment produces and finances the series. It sold three seasons to Syfy, which canceled the series in May 2018; Amazon Prime Video picked up a fourth season later that month.
Hundreds of years in the future, in a colonized Solar System, police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), born on Ceres in the asteroid belt, is sent to find a missing young woman, Juliette "Julie" Andromeda Mao (Florence Faivre). James Holden (Steven Strait), Executive Officer of the ice hauler Canterbury, is involved in a tragic incident that threatens to destabilize the uneasy peace between Earth, Mars and the Belt. On Earth, Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a United Nations executive, works to prevent war between Earth and Mars by any means necessary. Soon, the three find out that the missing woman and the ice hauler's fate are part of a conspiracy that threatens humanity.
Cast and characters
- Thomas Jane as Josephus "Joe" Aloisus Miller, a Belter detective on Ceres assigned to find Julie Mao (seasons 1–2; special guest season 3)
- Steven Strait as James "Jim" Holden, the Earther captain of the Rocinante, formerly the executive officer of the Canterbury
- Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal, the Martian pilot of the Rocinante, formerly the pilot of the Canterbury
- Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata, the Belter engineer of the Rocinante, formerly of the Canterbury
- Wes Chatham as Amos Burton, the Earther mechanic of the Rocinante, formerly a mechanic of the Canterbury
- Paulo Costanzo as Shed Garvey, the Canterbury's medical technician (season 1)
- Florence Faivre as Juliette "Julie" Andromeda Mao, the missing daughter of business tycoon Jules-Pierre Mao (seasons 1–2; special appearance season 3)
- Shawn Doyle as Sadavir Errinwright, UN Undersecretary of Executive Administration (seasons 1–3)
- Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, UN Deputy Undersecretary of Executive Administration
- Frankie Adams as Roberta "Bobbie" Draper, a Martian Marine gunnery sergeant (season 2–present)
- Chad L. Coleman as Frederick "Fred" Lucius Johnson, "The Butcher of Anderson Station", a former UNN colonel-turned-leader of the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance)
- Andrew Rotilio as Diogo Harari, a young Belter from Ceres
- Athena Karkanis as Octavia "Tavi" Muss, Miller's former partner (season 1)
- Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes, the OPA's Ceres liaison
- François Chau as Jules-Pierre Mao, the owner of Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile, its subsidiary Protogen and Julie's father
- Jay Hernandez as Dmitri Havelock, Miller's Earther partner with Star Helix Security (season 1)
- Lola Glaudini as Shaddid, the captain of Star Helix Security's Ceres detachment (season 1)
- Kevin Hanchard as "Semi" Sematimba, a detective on Eros and an old friend of Miller's (season 1)
- Martin Roach as Souther, UNN admiral, former UNN Fleet Commander, now commander of the UN's Jupiter fleet (seasons 1–3)
- Daniel Kash as Antony Dresden, Protogen's head of biological research (seasons 1–2)
- Brian George as Arjun Avasarala, Chrisjen's husband
- Greg Bryk as K. Lopez, a MCRN lieutenant assigned to the MCRN Donnager (season 1)
- Elias Toufexis as Kenzo Gabriel, a corporate spy on Tycho Station (season 1), and the Protomolecule Hybrids (seasons 2–3)
- Nick E. Tarabay as Cotyar Ghazi, a security professional working for Avasarala (seasons 2–3)
- Cara Gee as Camina Drummer, Johnson's Belter second-in-command and captain of the OPAS Behemoth (season 2–present)
- Mpho Koaho as Richard Travis, an Earth-born MMC private in Draper's squad (season 2)
- Sarah Allen as Hillman, a MMC private in Draper's squad (season 2)
- Dewshane Williams as Sa'id, a MMC corporal in Draper's squad (season 2)
- Peter Outerbridge as Martens, a MCRN captain assigned to the MCRN Scirocco (season 2)
- Conrad Pla as Janus, a UN colonel assigned to the UNS Arboghast (season 2)
- Byron Mann as Augusto Nguyễn, a UNN fleet admiral (season 2–3)
- Ted Whittall as Michael Iturbi, a UNN scientist assigned to the UNS Arboghast (season 2)
- Terry Chen as Praxideke "Prax" Meng, a Ganymedian botanist (season 2–present)
- Leah Jung as Mei Meng, Prax's daughter (season 2–present)
- Ted Atherton as Lawrence Strickland, a Protogen pediatrician on Ganymede (seasons 2–3)
- Jonathan Whittaker as Esteban Sorrento-Gillis, UN Secretary General (seasons 2–3)
- Elizabeth Mitchell as Rev. Dr. Annushka "Anna" Volovodov, a Europan Methodist pastor (season 3)
- David Strathairn as Klaes Ashford, a former Belter pirate and now the second-in-command of OPAS Behemoth (season 3)
- Anna Hopkins as Monica Stuart, a journalist from Earth filming a documentary on the crew of Rocinante (season 3)
- Brandon McGibbon as Cohen, a cameraman from Earth filming a documentary on Rocinante with Monica (season 3)
- Nadine Nicole as Melba Alzbeta Koh / Clarissa Mao, a mysterious new technician aboard UNN Thomas Prince (season 3)
- Genelle Williams as Tilly Fagan, a rich heiress who travels to The Ring seeking adventure and excitement and who befriends Anna (season 3)
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||10||December 14, 2015||February 2, 2016||Syfy|
|2||13||February 1, 2017||April 19, 2017|
|3||13||April 11, 2018||June 27, 2018|
|4||10||2019||TBA||Amazon Prime Video|
The Expanse is based on the novel series of the same name by James S. A. Corey, a pen name of the authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who also serve as writers and producers for the show. The first novel, Leviathan Wakes (2011), was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. On April 11, 2014, Syfy announced a straight-to-series commitment to a television adaptation of the book series, and ordered the production of 10 one-hour-long episodes for the first season. On that date Syfy President Dave Howe commented: "The Expanse is epic in scale and scope and promises to be Syfy's most ambitious series to date".
Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby wrote the pilot, directed by Terry McDonough, and serve as writers and showrunners alongside Naren Shankar. Produced by Alcon Television and The Sean Daniel Company, principal photography started on October 29, 2014, in Toronto. The pilot episode was screened at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2015.
Four digital comics based on the books and tying into the television series have been published by ComiXology. The first focuses on the origin of James Holden and was released February 1, 2017. The next three, highlighting the origins of other characters are: Naomi Nagata, released April 19, 2017; Alex Kamal, released May 24, 2017; and Amos Burton, released July 12, 2017.
The show's title sequence was animated and directed by Australian studio Breeder and its VFX team.
Cancellation and renewal
On May 11, 2018, Syfy did not purchase the rights for future seasons because of restrictive distribution arrangements, and announced it was cancelled. Alcon looked for other channels to distribute future seasons.
Fans protested the cancellation, gathering over 100,000 signatures for an online petition. They lobbied Amazon Studios and Netflix to pick the series up; a crowdfunding campaign paid for an airplane to fly a "#SaveTheExpanse" banner around Amazon Studios. Celebrities including Wil Wheaton, George R. R. Martin, Patton Oswalt and Andreas Mogensen supported the campaign.
On May 26, at the International Space Development Conference, Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon picked the series up for additional seasons. Production on the fourth season began in October 2018.
The show's soundtrack was composed by Clinton Shorter. The first season's soundtrack dubbed The Expanse Season 1 – The Original Television Soundtrack, consisting of nineteen tracks, was released by Lakeshore Records, on May 20, 2016 via iTunes, and on May 26, 2016 via Amazon.
In the United States, seasons 1 to 3 of The Expanse were broadcast by Syfy and streamed on Prime Video. In Canada, these seasons aired on Space and streamed on Crave. In New Zealand, these seasons aired on Sky. In all other countries where Netflix is available, seasons 1 and 2 were streamed until September 30, 2018. On February 8, 2019, Prime Video took over exclusive distribution of the first three seasons worldwide in preparation for its premiere of the fourth season later in the year.
The first season received a rating of 65 out of 100 on Metacritic based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a score of 77% with an average rating of 7.12 out of 10 based on 43 reviews, as of February 2019. The site's consensus states: "The Expanse blends sci-fi elements and detective noir into a visually compelling whole, though it takes a few episodes for the story to capture viewers' intrigue."
Reporting on the pilot screening, io9's Lauren Davis declared herself "blown away" by The Expanse, appreciating its "incredible sense of scale" and its "deeply thought out future world that reflects on our present one, with high production values and characters who speak and act like real people". Max Nicholson of IGN characterized the pilot as "grim and dramatic", and a "very dense hour of television", with the terminology and large cast sometimes difficult to follow for viewers unfamiliar with the novels, but highlighted the pilot's "gorgeous" visuals and effects reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica, Dune and Firefly.
Writing for Variety, Maureen Ryan was unimpressed by the first four episodes "awkwardly linking a series of somewhat muddled stories" and the series' stereotypical characters, but credited it with tackling "issues of class, representation and exploitation", and a convincing design. At Tor.com, Justin Landon highlighted The Expanse's "bold and unique cinematography" and its claustrophobic, discomforting set designs, as well as the "extremely faithful" characterization, but remarked that the patois spoken by the Belters, the natives of the asteroid belt, made the series difficult to follow.
On Metacritic, it has a score of 77 out of 100 based on 5 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season had a score of 95% with an average rating of 8.83 out of 10 based on 20 reviews, as of February 2019. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Expanse's second season offers more of the show's excellent signature production values while increasing character development and politically thrilling narratives."
Writing for io9, Katherine Trendacosta noted how the show had become "shockingly prescient", insofar as many of the issues and ideas explored by The Expanse mirrored contemporary trends in global politics. Brian Tallerico, in "Why The Expanse Is the Best Sci-FI TV Show You're Not Watching" for Rolling Stone, praised the show for its contemporary political relevance and called its willingness to mix tones, and its protagonists, laudable. He summarized that at its core, The Expanse was all about people responding to fear – fear of the other, fear of the new, fear of inequality, fear of death. Writing for NPR, astrophysicist Adam Frank praised the show and its writers for the scientific realism. He wrote that "more than any other TV space-themed show, it gets the science right".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the season had a score of 100% with an average rating of 8.75 out of 10 based on 22 reviews, as of February 2019. The site's critical consensus reads, "Building on earlier potential and extending character arcs throughout a solidly crafted third season, The Expanse continues to impress – and shows no signs of abating."
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||Avg. viewers
|1||Monday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Tuesday 10:00 pm
|10||December 14, 2015||1.19||February 2, 2016||0.555||0.703||0.22|
|2||Wednesday 10:00 pm||13||February 1, 2017||0.700||April 19, 2017||0.581||0.562||0.18|
|3||Wednesday 9:00 pm||13||April 11, 2018||0.653||June 27, 2018||0.606||0.606||0.18|
|2016||Directors Guild of Canada Awards||Best Sound Editing – Television Series||Nelson Ferriera, Nathan Robitaille, Dustin Harris, Tyler Whitham, Dashen Naidoo
(for "The Big Empty")
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Television Series||The Expanse||Nominated|||
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Robert Munroe, Clint Green, Kyle Menzies, Tom Turnbull
|2017||Directors Guild of Canada Awards||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series||Robert Lieberman (for "Rock Bottom")||Nominated|||
|Dragon Awards||Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series||The Expanse||Nominated|||
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form||Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Terry McDonough
(for "Leviathan Wakes")
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Television Series||The Expanse||Nominated|||
|2018||People's Choice Awards||The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show of 2018||The Expanse||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Television Series||The Expanse||Nominated|||
|2019||Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form||Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, Naren Shankar, & Simon Cellan Jones
(for "Abaddon’s Gate")
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