The series was offered to the Sci-Fi Channel for U.S. broadcast in late 1998. The network picked up the series for 66 episodes before they had aired even one. First Wave premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in March of 1999. Due to disappointing ratings, the series was cancelled after the three-season contract ended in 2001.
First of all, this is a new challenge for me when it comes to reviews. Normally, I review a film, which means that I have watched something that is about 90-120 (maybe 180) minutes long. Reviewing a television show presents a new set of issues. In this case, I am choosing to review season one of First Wave, and there are 22 episodes. Thus, I have watched roughly seventeen hours of programming, and each episode has to have some kind of cohesive story in itself while still embodied in a larger work. But never let it be said, dear reader, that I ever back down from a challenge.
Secondly, and most signficantly, I have never considered myself a science fiction fan. As stated in other reviews, science fiction has been that particular genre that I avoided like the plague. So, of course, it makes sense that I would become friends with an actor who has affinity for the science fiction genre, wouldn’t it? Thankfully, I have kept an open mind while examining as many of his works as possible, and I was so ecstatic to finally find a copy of this series (trust me, that is easier said than done). After all, this is the work of his that undeniably holds a special place in his heart.
I will admit that I had my reservations about this series. After all, I was not a fan of science fiction, and the premise of the show sounded a bit strange to me–almost a sci-fi version of The Fugitive. But because my good friend Sebastian Spence was in it, I figured I would give it a try. I had made up my mind that no matter what, I was going to keep an open mind. Thankfully, I had watched other science fiction films starring him, and so I had begun to have a passing interest in science fiction.
From the pilot episode, I found myself intrigued. I absolutely adore the opening sequence (shown above). The way in which he delivers the lines combined with the images and music is masterful in producing the desired eerie effect. In fact, my 11-year-old daughter, Martha, told me that the first time she heard that opening sequence, it “freaked her out.”
I had the privilege of watching the pilot episode three times. Martha and I watched it, and then my mom insisted on watching it (she had to know what all the hype was). Martha loves it, and my mom is indifferent (actually that’s a compliment from her). I must admit that it took me three viewings to discover all the intricacies of the pilot–I was a bit slow at the outset but not so any more. Actually I was informed that was not a problem as I was not a “science fiction geek.” (I will let you figure out who may have said that to me.)
After the pilot, there was no doubt in my mind that I was compelled to keep watching. And by the time I got to about episode seven, I was so immersed in the series that there was no turning back. I had come to cherish the characters, and almost without exception, each episode only got better. In fact, before long, it replaced what had become a nightly television tradition for me. I had grown accustomed to watching The Tonight Show, but I gladly gave that up for this show. To put it the way one of my friends did, I had a nightly “date with Cade Foster.”
First of all, please note the content advisory. There is some profanity (most of it is very mild, and depending on the episode, there may be more or less), and there are some bedroom scenes. I will tell you that the bedroom scenes are mainly in the early shows of this season. I could have sometimes done without those, but I understand there were varied reasons for placing these scenes within the show. I found that previewing the show for my daughter was a sensible idea, but the fast-forward button was also employed at times. The violence within the show can be a bit graphic at times, but compared to what is seen in films and on television today, it is fairly mild.
Secondly, the writing of the show is exceptional. After the first few episodes, once the character and direction were truly established, I discovered that every episode built on the last one. The scripts were so cohesive, and the characters evolved so much that I genuinely cared about them. In fact, Episode 7 the Lungfish was the first episode where my emotions nearly got the better of me. And it wasn’t the last time that happened.
Additionally, this is not a show for the faint of heart. I typically watched these shows at night when all was still in the house (except for my cat who resented the fact that she did not get the attention she felt she deserved during these episodes). Sometimes I was rather fatigued, but it is practically impossible to sleep through these intensive episodes. In fact, Martha and I jumped more than once during the viewing of this show. There were other times when going to bed was a problematic chore due to the unsettling nature of the episode. To the show’s credit, there was generally a glimmer of hope at the end of each episode (provided by Sebastian AKA Cade Foster).
Finally, the finale of season one was one of the finest season finales I have ever seen. It was told mostly through flashbacks (my mom and daughter watched it too, and they were able to caught up as they had not seen all the other episodes), but the way in which everything was woven together was utterly ideal. And when I say that season one ended with a cliffhanger, know that is an understatement! Thankfully, I don’t have to wait since season two is awaiting my viewing even as I write this.
Now to the actors themselves. It was immeasurably fun to watch the show and notice the names of guest stars that I recognized from other movies/television. Some notables were even from Cedar Cove. One episode features Brennan Elliot (Warren Saget), and another features William DeVry (Dick Turnbull). Brennan plays a science geek, and William plays an alien. I won’t ruin either one for you, but William’s character is responsible for the cliffhanger in episode 22. It was a veritable treat to see these familiar actors, and neither had changed all that much in looks (still as handsome as ever).
This is indeed one of my favorite episodes (second only to episode 21 Aftertime). This was the episode that was the turning point for me, and it featured an actress who worked with Sebastian later on Cerberus.
This was the first time that my emotions got involved, and this also aided that process..
Every time I see Sebastian perform with a child, I suppose my heart goes a bit soft. Some actors just seem to work well with children, and it seems like he always does this with ease. He never upstages the children, and he always meets them where they are. For me, it is always a delight, and both he and the child always capture my heart.
Now to the three main characters. I’ll start with Roger R. Cross who plays Joshua.
From the first time I saw his character, I was completely captivated by him. I knew that he was going to be an important character, but I wasn’t sure what direction he would head. As he became a more prominent character, I began to hope that maybe he would be a “good guy” instead of a “bad guy.” At this point, it is inconclusive, and I don’t want to spoil it for you. What I will say is that Roger is an imposing force on the screen and he fits the part impressively well. I have never seen him in anything else, and I suppose I would struggle to see him as anything or anyone else. There is no other actor who could have played the role of the somewhat confused but mighty Gua (alien)!
Now to the character of “Crazy Eddie.” Again, I was not familiar with Rob LaBelle, and I have not seen him in anything else. Notwithstanding, he plays this role of Crazy Eddie with such precision and skill that at times I found myself anticipating his role on the screen more so than any other character. His character provides a bit of comedic relief (trust me, these episodes are so intense that you will appreciate the humor), and yet his character is also the “brains” of the operation. True science geek who also suffers from paranoia. He plays his role effortlessly opposite Sebastian’s Cade Foster, and their chemistry is sheer delectation in the extreme. He is definitely a massive part of the reason this show works so well.
And last but not least, my dear friend Sebastian in the role of Cade Foster. To attempt to even put into words the way in which this character has infiltrated my heart would be far too difficult. From the first episode, his character drew me in and only enchanted me further as the series advanced. As a former thief who turned his life around only to have it nearly destroyed by the aliens, his character struck a chord within my soul that vibrates more with each passing episode. If there is a character of Sebastian’s that I could say I’m smitten with, this would be definitely be the one. Yes, possibly even more so than Cowboy Cliff Harting, and that is saying something.
There is so much about Cade Foster that is noteworthy and alluring. Yes, he is quite handsome (but Sebastian always is anyway), and his physical prowess is certainly a feast in which to indulge. Regardless, the character of Cade Foster transcends the physical. Time and again what drew me in was his sense of right and wrong especially in a world that was ruled by evil and base desires. His strength of character so resonated with my own that I was reminded time and again how one person can make a difference. His morality in spite of utter wickedness ensured my undying loyalty to this character. Quite honestly, if I had the time, I would sit down and watch multiple episodes without a single complaint.
On a lighter note, whenever my daughter watches this show, she is so engrossed that she can often quote the show word for word after just one viewing. It is one of the few shows in which she will set her electronics aside and fully concentrate for the duration of the episode.
To be quite forthright, I could expand upon this review, but the nice thing is that there are still two more seasons to go. I cannot comprehend for a minute why this show did not receive the ratings it was due, but all too often the excellent shows get cancelled and the garbage remains. I am forever grateful that there are sixty-six episodes, and even more ecstatic that I have forty-four more to go! If you ever get an opportunity to view any episode from this series, drop everything immediately and watch it. Even as a biased reviewer, I can see the genius of this show. Thoroughly worth watching and highly recommended.
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