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We Dodged a Bullet with HIGH MOON

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I get it. A lot of people are crazy-ga-ga over Bryan Fuller because of Pushing Daisies. OK. Let’s set that aside and just look at the mess that is High Moon.

Because it’s a mess, folks.

Based very loosely on the 1969 book The Lotus Caves by John Christopher, High Moon basically takes a few basic elements of the book and mashes them up with a lot of realpolitik gobbledegook and conspiracy hanky-panky. I’ll admit I haven’t read the book, but if all of the general descriptions are accurate (and I don’t have any reason to doubt them), then High Moon actually isn’t The Lotus Caves.

I’m not going to get into a blow-by-blow review of the movie. Suffice it to say that it’s fitting this production was on Syfy. High Moon fits in perfectly with Sharknado, Anaconda, S.S. Doomtrooper, and all of the other low-budget fare that served to draw fan ire at Syfy’s lack of quality. Yes, some of those Saturday Night Originals were deliberately schlocky and bad, mostly as a tongue-in-cheek recognition of those “classic” drive-in B-movies we love to reminisce about.

But that begs the question: was High Moon intended to be a parody? Was it supposed to feel uber-schlocky and Uve Boll-ish? Because this movie was all over the map, almost as if it couldn’t decide whether to play it straight or wink at the camera.

And I lost count of how many times I shouted “Gravity!” at the screen. Something something spacesuits Earth-gravity whatever. The physics of this production — or rather, lack thereof — just had me popping out of the story at random times. I found myself at several points fighting the urge to just turn off the TV or change the channel. But no, dear reader. I stuck it out so I could write this missive and let you know: don’t lament the fact that High Moon didn’t get picked up as a series.

Now, it’s possible that Fuller & Company could have settled into a groove and decide to go completely over the top silly with the whole thing (mechanical dinosaurs on the moon, and all that), and that might have been fun to watch — we don’t have anywhere near enough comedy in science fiction. But the tone of the pilot just doesn’t speak to me and say “We know it’s silly. Be silly with us.”

It would be rude of me to pan the show without at least acknowledging a few good bits: Dana Davis is fun to watch as the “only one born on the Moon” Yama Winehart, and Chris Diamantopoulos and Jake Sandvig give credible performances as brothers.

But it was just too off-balance to work. Now, your mileage may vary. Rob Bricken (io9) wasn’t thrilled with it, but Ron Hogan (Den of Geek) thought highly of it. If you loved it, great. More power to ya. Science fiction fandom is a big tent.

Just sometimes, that tent is filled with substances that make you high. Which might have made this more fun to watch…

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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