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Masters of Science Fiction – ‘A Clean Escape’

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picture-9.jpgABC’s Masters of Science Fiction premiered this Saturday, August 4th on the US, with the episode “A Clean Escape.” Click here for summaries and links for clips of the first six episodes. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed — I really expected something of a promising story and actors with the caliber of Judy Davis and Sam Waterston. If you don’t want spoilers, better go elsewhere.

The general idea for the episode is pretty good and could have led to a number of interesting developments. ABC’s official synopsis is:

A dying Dr. Deanna Evans refuses to believe that her patient, Robert Havelmann, cannot remember the last 25 years of his life. It remains unclear why she has been so obsessed with this particular patient until the final, shocking conclusion.

We gradually learn the conditions that have led to this predicament, from the point of view of Judy Davis, and it’s rather curious to watch Sam Waterston keeps coming back to his psychiatric sessions with no memory whatsoever of the previous scenes (or his life in the past 25 years in fact) as if someone had rebooted him. He has done something terrible and his mind has found a way to block it by having just a forty minute memory. Davis suspects that he might even be faking it, because then he doesn’t have to face the consequences. This is a good start and if the story had developed from there, it could’ve been great.

But it becomes clear that they’re not interested in the more psychological side of science fiction, but in the usual, clichéd and boring one. Waterston was in charge of a disastrous military move that led to a nuclear holocaust and everybody on the planet was killed. Only 870 of them remain in an underground bunker, which is where they are located. It feels like they added this apocalyptic backstory just for show, to appeal to the science fiction fans — which in itself is okay as background, but as soon as it is revealed, all psychological complexity that was briefly and slightly hinted at in the beginning just goes out the window.

To top things off, Davis has some unnecessary and goopy flashbacks about her kids, who have of course died, and some other scenes that are just filler. The acting by the pair of leads was good, until the end, when it goes over the top with the lame melodrama.

And oh, the “hosting” by Stephen Hawking is just his [computer’s] voice bookending the episode with the moral of the story so you won’t miss it.

Written by Joe

agosto 7, 2007 às 12:15 am

Publicado em reviews

8 Respostas

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  1. SO in agreement with your post! and so predictable you knew the shrink would blow her brains instead of the presidents…


    agosto 27, 2007 at 12:36 pm

  2. A typical review like I’ve read so many when it comes to this show.

    Somebody finally works on a Science Fiction show with intelligent scripting and good acting and what happens?

    The network buries it and the critics eat its corpse.

    This review makes little sense: The bottom line is that this episode could have been good science fiction if it didn’t have the science fiction element in it.

    So if there hadn’t been a nuclear holocaust in it it would’ve been good? But “of course they had to put a nuclear holocaust in it because otherwise the sci-fi fans would start to cry…stupid sci-fi fans…”

    My opinion: This episode works hard to carve a good story out of two actors and one room. And it works marvelously. It works both as a sci-fi tale of humanity rebuilding itself and as a psychological tale of a man living with enormous guilt (although Korsakoff syndrome is actually caused by alcoholism but that’s another story…).

    Its a gripping tale, the likes of which is rarely seen on TV…let alone ABC.

    And it was a first episode as well…

    This show has (or had) potential..lets cut it some slack.


    setembro 2, 2007 at 12:00 pm

  3. Your reviews is spot on!
    I was very annoyed and disappointed by this episode. It is nothing less than a liberal-type guilt trip. I can see how it might tickle the fantasies of those who are in this mind set and this would be the cutting edge fantasy for the, but to me it was nothing, just boring.
    A USA president sobs and breaks down over his hawkishness that destroyed the world. We are all so very very guilty and finally they see the error of their ways.
    Like who cares!
    That is not a story, the only story here is that we find out about it and ..the liberal response?
    ..why… blow your own brains out of course. It might cure the president!

    Liberals should take note: Blowing your brains out doesn’t solve anything and doesn’t “fix” things with other people (and yes I know she had cancer. Self hate is apointless “Liberal:” disease.

    I don’t know which is more boring, this tired old “Liberal Trope” or this story,

    I give this episode no slack. Another thing, I had to look up the writer’s name on Wikipedia and hunt with a microscope for it in the titling. The emphasis of this series was supposed to be on the “Masters”. (IE the writers). At least give them prominent screen creds,

    This is the first one I watched, I see some famous names coming up. I hype they were treated well.

    Marvin depression

    fevereiro 5, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    • Liberal Liberal Liberal Liberal.
      Liberal, liberal liberal.


      You’re a little obsessed with liberals. Or at least you were 8 years ago. I didn’t see any in this episodes. She’s sick and thinks that all the things happened because of the president. Then she point a gun at him, in a not at all liberal way then kill herself (massive spoiler) after he admitted his guilt.

      But no! Liberals!

      “Blowing your brains out doesn’t solve anything”
      Er, thanks Marvin Obvious.

      Sultan Rahi

      maio 28, 2016 at 6:11 pm

  4. Wow, the comments here are way old.
    Anyway, I happened to recently watch a rerun of this episode too, and feel not a little cheated. I thought they were going for some psycho-drama. But, as with most reveals in mysteries, it makes the story go flat. the psychiatrist taking her own life in the end when the President [Waterston] remembers, confesses and is contrite, that just makes no sense. She’s come this far and just offs herself.
    I also had a wtf moment when, at the end of the story, the second in command now poses as the psychiatrist, and the President is once again shown into the room with no recollection of what transpired just the day prior. I mean, yeah we got that he has short-term memory, but why keep up the charade the next day? Just lock him up for crimes against humanity already.


    julho 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  5. You dumb idiots do realize this was based on a short story/play, don’t you? They didn’t choose where to take the story, it was just an adaptation. And I’d like to know what exactly you think would have been better as the “horrible thing” he did and can’t remember? Everyone likes to think they’re so smart, but it’s not like you would have come up with anything better.


    agosto 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  6. I’d rather watch this than another reality show, but it’s super harsh critics like everyone here that get these shows canceled before they even get off the ground. Have fun watching the slot replacement called, “Kitchen Dog Dancing with Celebrity Weight Loss Survivors.”

    Not Bad

    dezembro 20, 2010 at 2:23 am

  7. so much potential and yet so much failure.
    The general gist of the movie is that psychiatrists are moral heros and right wingers are psychotic nuts who will kill us all. The villain is no right wing lunatic – decrying flag burning and promoting bibles in public schools. He is basically a guy who who wants to protect America. He becomes president and when the $%^& hits the fan he lets the nukes loose.
    The basic point of the script is actually very important and worth considering. We are constantly at risk that someone who is mentally unstable might take control of the nukes in the US, Russia or one of the second rate nuclear powers. They would not have to even be mentally ill. A bad decision maker could destroy all of civilization.
    For real. All life on earth is at risk, every moment of every day.
    This pitiful mistake of a movie doesn’t address the real threat. The fact is that while America is strong our threat of being attacked is minimal. When sissys are in office our enemies are emboldened. There is no better example of a sissy in office then Jimmy Carter. The Russians, the Islamists in Iran, the commies in South and Central America ALL grew stronger in the late seventies. Contrarily, when a neocon like Obama took charge and followed the Bush plan in Iraq, and redoubled the forces in Afaganistan and sent soldiers into Africa to kill Joseph Kony and fought an undeclared war in Libya, our enemies STFU and hide.
    The risk of a nuclear showdown is less when America is strong. Reagan knew this. Obama knows this. Even though his supporters are hippies and tree-huggers, Obama is as much of a warmonger as any of the last 5 presidents.


    abril 1, 2012 at 4:35 am

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