'Greetings prisoners of gravity, this is Commander Rick...'
Prisoners of Gravity was perhaps one of the most intelligent and thought provoking TV shows ever created to explore the medium of speculative fiction and comics, not to mention creative and stylish on a limited budget. The brainchild of Mark Askwith, Daniel Richler and the host Rick Green (of The Frantics fame), the show ran 139 episodes over 5 seasons, produced by TV Ontario. During its run, the list of authors interviewed became more and more prestigious, including Neil Gaiman, Guy Gavriel Kay, Frederick Pohl, Clive Barker, David Brin, Charles de Lint, to name but a very, very few.
Trapped (as told through an introductory comic-strip like opening sequence drawn by Ty Templeton) aboard an orbiting (pressurized) TV satellite, Commander Rick was not to be daunted by this fate. Instead he took advantage of his unusual situation to hijack every week the broadcast of ‘Second Nature’ to discuss issues as seen through the eyes of authors and artists of speculative fiction (SF, Fantasy, Horror, etc), film and comic books, along with filmmakers, animators and the occasional futurist. Topics that were discussed ran the gamut: Censorship, Adaptations, Heros & Superheros, Humour, Alternate Histories, Mars, Cyberbooks, Sex... Each episode was a half hour long (a full half hour, being public television) and usually about 6-14 authors/etc were interviewed. 600 or so interviews were conducted and aired by the time the show’s run came to an end.
What really brought each episode alive was how it was fully wrapped in its quirky premise. The visuals, background sounds and onscreen graphics gave a good sense of ‘being there’, without being overblown, or chintzy looking. Rick’s smooth delivery helped a great deal as well. Its not quite possible to convey how it felt in words, but when Rick jammed an audio tape into a jurry-rigged video device, it didn’t seem forced nor phoney.
PoG was unfortunately cancelled in 1994 for reasons that aren’t quite known, and must defy all possible logic given the show’s growing success. Grrrr, I say, grrrr! Another show like it I have never seen.