A barely noticeable eye twitch begins every time I speak positively about an upcoming Syfy project, and their upcoming miniseries Ascension is one of the most promising sci-fi shows of the year. (And no, I’m not winking when I say that. It’s the twitch.) In any case, a mankind-saving spaceship is only as good as its crew, and three more able bodies have signed up for the voyage. Brandon P. Bell (Hollywood Heights), Tiffany Lonsdale (The Golden Veil), and newcomer Jacqueline Byers join the previously announced Brian Van Holt (Cougar Town) and Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer.
The six-episode Ascension will hopefully be a return to form for Syfy, as it will tell a story that is nearly larger than life itself. The titular vessel is a starship that was secretly launched into space in the early 1960s, just as America was getting into the Space Race. The mission is simple and difficult all at once: a 100-year journey into the complete unknown, with a goal of finding a new planet to populate and extend humanity’s footprint on the universe. But things rarely go as planned in sci-fi, and halfway through the mission, a young girl’s murder on board the Ascension throws everyone and everything into question.
Bell will star as the confident First Officer Oren Gault, son of the ship’s lower-deck maintenance workers. (There are many hundreds of people on board, but somehow I didn’t expect there to be family lineages.) A definite good guy, Gault is tasked with investigating the young girl’s murder, but he soon finds himself far out of his element. As Chief Astronomer Emily Vanderhaus, Lonsdale plays the murder victim’s older sister, and this hard-hitting tragedy will come between Emily and her husband, Safety Officer Duke Vanderhaus.
Byers, meanwhile, plays Nora Bryce, who is supposed to follow in her mother’s footsteps in the ship’s medical center, but she is more interested in the process of building a new world through terraforming. She has a personal stake in finding the young girl’s killer, and refuses to give up the hunt. Van Holt and Helfer play Captain William and Viondra Denninger, respectively. They have their own power struggle going on behind-the-scenes, while retaining their respectable public images.
With a recurring role on Switched at Birth in his past, Bell was most recently seen on TV One’s Love That Girl! and in Justin Simien’s race-related satire Dear White People. Lonsdale, who starred in last year’s thriller Phobia, next has a role in Ryan Harper Gray’s extra-marital drama This is a Love Story. And Byers appears in the unaired pilot Scared Stiff.
Production is set to begin on Ascension at some point this summer, with a November premiere already set on Syfy’s calendar. Now let’s get some concept imagery of this spaceship and I’ll be happy.