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Syfy’s Ascension Recruits Its Captain

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VanHoltCommanding a starship puts you in an exclusive club. Aside from the sheer perks of getting to explore the galaxy, you get to hit up all the Starship Captain Conventions and rub elbows with the likes of Kirk, Solo, Adama, Reynolds, and…well, whichever member of the Moya crew you think was in charge. Now there’s a new member of the club, as Cougar Town actor Brian Van Holt has signed on to play the captain in Syfy’s space thriller mini-series Ascension. If he asks where the keys to the officer’s club are, tell him I left them with Tricia Helfer.

Ascension is the vanguard of a ton of promising new science fiction series in development from Syfy. It revolves around a starship launched in secret back in 1963. Now, 50 years into its voyage, the murder of a woman aboard spurs questions about the true nature of the mission. The six-hour “event series” was created by Philip Levens, a dude with a mixed bag of TV credits that include Smallville and the 2008 Knight Rider reboot.

In addition to Cougar Town, Van Holt has appeared in tons of stuff over the years, including Black Hawk Down and FX’s The Bridge. (He was also a regular on CBS’ short-lived sci-fi series Threshold, which starred Carla Gugino, Peter Dinklage, and Brent Spiner.) According to Entertainment Weekly, Van Holt will be playing William Denninger, captain of the ship and “a natural leader, a military man and politician … strong-willed and confident.” He didn’t start out the voyage as the man in charge, however. Apparently he landed the job thanks to “heroic actions” during a deadly fire early in the voyage. (It’s unclear if that means the previous captain was killed in that fire or not.) Denninger shares a “tortured marriage” with Viondra, played by Ascension’s other big star, Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer.

I love a good mystery, and Ascension also promises a unique setting, with the science fiction trappings blended with a pseudo-retro society that has evolved on board the ship during its decades away from Earth — a little bit Mad Men, a little big BSG. It’s also great to see Helfer back in the final frontier again, and hopefully her Ascension role will be different enough from her time as a Cylon some Cylons that it will avoid easy comparisons. Fingers crossed she’ll swap out the platinum blonde locks, as they were an instantly recognizable part of her role as Six. (And as much as I love her voice work as EDI in the Mass Effect games, let the lady play an organic already!)

You can check out the stylish trailer for Ascension below. It’ll premiere on Syfy this November.

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