#ThinkpieceThursday – CBS’ Salvation: It’s Never About The Asteroid

Thinkpiece Thursday

Despite a massively talented writing team, Salvation on CBS was mostly a ratings disappointment and earned just 56% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It’s a summer popcorn series that didn’t quite connect.  Why?

As I see it, some of the problem is that it is populated by stereotypes.

Eccentric maverick tech billionaire, Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera)
College wunderkind, Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe)
Earnest young sci-fi writer, Jillian Hayes (Jacqueline Byers)
Government Deputy of Defense (with a sensitive side), Harris Edwards (Ian Anthony Dale)
Pentagon Press Secretary, torn between her establishment lover and the romantic billionaire,  Grace Burrows (Jennifer Finnigan)

What happens is:

College wunderkind calculates an asteroid is six months from striking the earth and destroying all life. Wunderkind contacts eccentric billionaire, who knows (is in love with) the Pentagon Press Secretary. Because they don’t want to cause public panic, they agree to keep this information secret within the government. Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of Defense is already running the D.O.D.’s top-secret operation to deflect the asteroid. At the same time, eccentric billionaire is working with earnest young Sci-Fi writer, on a different approach to saving humanity.

What we care about are human relationships and how disaster, catastrophe, or dire threat reveals character. It’s never about the asteroid, the space aliens, the flood, the fire– it’s about how people show who they really are in meeting danger. We never see the inner conflict within the characters or their personal worldview shaping how they each

We never see the inner conflict within the characters or their personal worldview shaping how they each intereact with others and how they approach the problem of the approaching asteroid.

In Salvation, the characters never move much beyond stereotypes or agents to push the plot forward.  But we don’t care enough about the asteroid– we’ve seen it before.

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