Earth: Final Conflict – worth a remake?

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It’s been over seven years since Earth: Final Conflict ended its five year run.

Over that run, it produced some 110 episodes spread across five seasons.  It opened with strong critical acclaim, but after the departure of show lead Kevin Kilner, the series declined creatively to the point of depravity in its fifth and final year. 

The reasons for the decline of Earth: Final Conflict are complex.  After all, shows can survive the departures of their leads.  E:FC however became a shadow of itself; a mediocre show with a mediocre plot and over-arching story.   That’s because the original premise of Earth: Final Conflict was so intrinsically bound to the story and fate of William Boone (Kevin Kilner) that his departure was not just a loss, it was a completely different show.  The same approach and plot could not remain.

Kilner3For those of you unfamiliar, Earth: Final Conflict was set three years after the arrival on Earth of an alien race called the Companions.  Seemingly benevolent, these Taelon aliens were not universally trusted.  The Resistance movement, led by Jonathan Doors (David Hemblen) recruit Boone after his wife is killed in a car accident.  Doors suggests to Boone that his wife’s death was not an accident, but rather the doing of the Taelons after Boone rejected the North American Companion Da’an’s offer to become a Companion Protector.  That job came with prerequisites, however, one of which being the implantation of  Cyber Viral Implant (CVI) to boost mental acuity.  A consequence known to the Resistance however was that the CVI also rewrote the Protector’s motivational imperative, forcing the person to become devotedly loyal to their assigned Companion.

Boone, using the Resistance who have disabled this motivational imperative in a CVI, then accepts Da’an’s offer and becomes an undercover agent for the liberation movement.  His mission is to discover what the Companion’ real mission on Earth is.

As the years of the show went on, that “˜mission’ became less and less clear and increasingly clouded.  But not in a Lost-style layers-of-mystery way.  Rather a collection of unfinished plot lines and creative U-turns meant that the Taelon’s true mission was often suggested as one thing, but in the end turned out to be quite another. 

As such, the first season was rather tantalising.  Frequent glimpses into what appeared to be a well thought-out and deeply written mythology and suggestions of plots which could take us through for many seasons to come.  Kevin Kilner’s Boone was infinitely likable; the Taleon’s stunningly perplexing and magically portrayed by Leni Parker’s Da’an.  The characters were diverse and formed a magnificent ensemble.  The sinister Taelon agenda personified through Von Flores’ portrayal of FBI Agent Ronald Sandoval, and humanity’s diversity never overlooked through quirky technical wizardry of Augar, and the quintessentially feminist performance of Lisa Howard’s Lili Marquette. 

I remember being blown away by the quality of the early special effects (for 1997, that is).  They appeared unique ““ the novelty of television using high quality CGI had not yet worn off ““ and were complemented by a magnificently composed musical score from Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon.  The series fixated, inspired and triggered the imagination of its viewers in so many ways.  I personally don’t think I’ve ever had a repeat of waiting each week for a new episode of any show with such constant anticipation (on a personal note, it also produced one of the better American representations of rural Ireland in season one’s “˜Secret of Strandhill’). What’s more ““ such was the quality ““ I knew I was not going to be disappointed.

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The first season was made still more compelling by the inherent moral ambiguity of the set-up.  Whilst the show later degraded into good versus evil, the first season was very much Boone’s story; Boone the Victim.  Boone wasn’t instantly picking sides.  He didn’t trust the Resistance, but he trusted the Taelons even less.  He was the reluctant participant in a very complex set of events.  E:FC’s early success really hinged upon the humanity of Boone.  His loss at the end of the first year was irreparable.

With the recreation of V and Alien Nation, could there be space for a remake of Earth: Final Conflict: a version capturing the magic and aura of the early episodes whilst resetting the story back to its original premise ““ this time with the potential of completing its promise?

Such a decision would potentially mean erasing plenty of good work and characters established in later seasons of the show.   Characters such as Tate, whom I enjoyed greatly for his relationship with Sandoval, do not naturally fit into the early concepts of the show.  Reluctantly, he’d have to go. 

I for one would not like to see the Atavus, or Jaridians even though both were represented by talented actors on occasion.  The show should be about the Taelons at the forefront, and their relationship with humanity.  Not humanity’s participation in an interstellar conflict, because at that point we risk falling into the realm of the generic.   

Even Zo’or, brilliantly portrayed by Anita La Selva, could do with a complete reinterpretation.  Zo’or fell victim to the paradigm of ultimate power corrupting ““ a very human flaw.  The magnificence of the Taelons lay in the early episodes at being only part human ““ connective to us up to a point, but not entirely.  Zo’or’s downfall seems simply too human, and thus the role of the character in any reset would have to be reimagined.

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The other risk of a remake would be jeopardising in some way what I consider to be a rather fantastic pilot.  I wouldn’t touch that.  I would just reset from there and move on.  In my own dream world, I’d keep the same cast as their interactions were fantastic, particularly the Parker/Kilner rapport. 

Over course, I’ve jumped entirely into an idealistic world where exactly such a remake is possible.  It’s not.  For one thing, the show’s only been off the hair seven years.  Give it another eight or ten then we might be talking.

Obviously, and remake would also have to reshoot the pilot.  Such wishful thinking that it would be left untouched is completely unreasonable: I apologise.  And the wonderful cast they assembled would have to be replaced.

Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel that Gene Roddenberry’s world contained infinitely more potential than was ever realised by the show, especially after the first season.  There’s so much fantastic sci-fi drama in the concept as-of-yet unrealised. 

Do I think a remake is worth a go?  Absolutely. 

Do I see it happening?  Maybe in the far future.

One thing’s for sure, I want to hear this music again”¦

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