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High Moon

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

They say there is a first time for everything. In this instance, it is that I have been disappointed by a TV production from Bryan Fuller. He has proved with NBC's Hannibal that he can handle a serious subject. Everything else he has done has been in the SF/Fantasy realm, with colorful, larger-that-life (or in some cases, larger-than-death) characters and exaggerated plots. This is not how he should have handled The Lotus Caves, but that's what we got. I'm not sure why I am bothering with this page, other than as a way to point out how not to adapt a book for film or TV.

To start with, High Moon features only two elements from the novel, the flower and the last name of one of the characters. In the opening scene we see Marty Thurgood (Jake Sandvig) discovering a flower on the Moon's surface, shortly before he and another explorer fall into a sinkhole caused by a "moonquake." In the novel, it was Andrew Thurgood who originally saw the flower, and young Marty (no last name given) who later discovers Thurgood in a cavern among exotic plants. From there, everything in High Moon is different from the book, many more characters and situations not even hinted at by John Christopher. This repurposed TV movie was intended as a pilot for a series, which Syfy passed on. If it had continued beyond this, it would have been much like "Pushing Daisies" transplanted to the Moon. Very colorful costumes and sets, eccentric characters and dialogue, more comical than serious as the story deserved. And by comical, I don't mean funny, just more comic-book like, although that in itself is an insult to comic books.

For example, an Air Force general (Peter Macon) constantly spouts the most cringe-worthy puns, which might have been hilarious coming from Daisies' Emerson Cod, but here are only good for an MST3K-like lampooning of the show, and that goes for every other scene as well. We also get a ninja warrior (inexplicably he's Indian rather than Japanese), a gay cyborg, a human(?) cephalopod, and a mechanical dinosaur built by a young Japanese girl. All through the movie I was wondering what the production team had been smoking, and if I might be able to get hold of some of it. Maybe if I had been stoned I would have appreciated it more.

This is not the first time Syfy has broadcast an unsold pilot. Last year there was Rewind, and in 2011 we got to see Three Inches. If I'm not mistaken, neither of those were ever repeated, although the former can be purchased on Amazon Instant Video at this time. I cannot find any source for the latter though. According to a recent post on IMDb from Jim Gray, who wrote High Moon's teleplay, it will be available on iTunes on 9/29/14. I don't know how much they will be asking, but whatever it is will be too much. I also don't know if we can ever expect a repeat of it, or if Amazon will offer it too, but it doesn't really matter. I have seen some positive comments from others, so if it's still unwatched on your DVR make up your own mind. I don't recommed it, but YMMV.

UPDATE: Just a couple of days after I posted this review, Amazon added this title to their site. See link in Overview column to the right.

There is at least one good thing about all of this. Since this film has so little to do with the novel, it is possible that someone else might get the chance to do a faithful adaptation in the future.

 

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Creator
Bryan Fuller

Director
Adam Kane

Teleplay
Jim D. Gray

Broadcast Date
September 15, 2014

Cast
Chris Diamantopoulos
Jake Sandvig
Charity Wakefield
Dana Davis
Jonathan Tucker
Peter Macon
Constance Wu
Kirby Morrow
Garry Chalk

Full Credits at IMDb

On Amazon Instant Video