Cancelled Before It Began: Earth Star Voyager (1988)

By | March 11, 2015

Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.

earth-star-voyagerIn 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation proved a huge hit in syndication and seemed to point to a hunger among audiences for space opera on television.  In 1988, Disney apparently sought to jump on that bandwagon with their pilot Earth Star Voyager which aired in two parts on ABC on The Wonderful World of Disney.  It took place in the year 2088 when Earth is on the verge of ecological collapse and preparations are being made to evacuate the human race to other planets in the galaxy.  The ship Earth*Star Voyager–manned by a young crew due to the length of the voyage–is sent to survey the planet Demeter to see if it is ripe for colonization.  But as things begin to go wrong during the journey, it becomes apparent that they are part of a conspiracy with very different plans for the ship and its crew.  This younger-skewing mini-series came long before the entertainment industry had discovered the cash cow of young adult franchises and how to make those appeal to the broader audience.  I remembered catching this when it first aired and finding it somewhat cheesy and hampered by exceptionally wooden acting along with poor dialogue.  But I also recall thinking that the special effects were decent for a television series (at that time) and that it had some potential if could rise above the juvenile audience it catered to.  It never got that chance, though, as it apparently didn’t pull decent enough ratings to get the greenlight to series.  However, since it first aired it has developed somewhat of a cult following that has lobbied Disney multiple times to release it on DVD.  But the mouse-house apparently has no interest in making money on that venture as nothing has made it to the shelves yet, nor does anything appear to be in the works.  You can track down bootleg copies on the internet and you can also catch it on YouTube from time to time (currently at this link) if you are interested.  I recently re-watched part of it and it lived down to expectations, though I still see where there was some potential with the story.  A revival could actually fit in well on The CW as that network has figured out the formula for success with genre entries populated by pretty young faces.  It’s unlikely it would ever appear there, though, seeing as Disney owns ABC and has no stake in the fifth place network.  And I don’t see the alphabet net mulling the possibility of adding Earth Star Voyager to their schedule anytime soon.  Still, you may find it worth checking out as a blast from the past when television was still trying to find its way with epic sci fi (we would see much better examples within a few years from Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space 9).

Aired: ABC, 1988, 2 Part Mini-Series

Starring: Duncan Regehr, Brian McNamara, Julia Montgomery, Jason Michas

Created By: Ed Spielman

4 thoughts on “Cancelled Before It Began: Earth Star Voyager (1988)

  1. Patricia H

    I yearn for a new space series. The #StarCrossed finale opened the door but The CW was too short sighted to exploit it. I wish a network with vision would pick it up and take it in that direction.

  2. Hawk

    Is it any surprise that the Big D won’t release this movie when they managed to acquire the rights to Star Wars, the number one grossing space series of all time?

  3. skipster61

    In its original plot, the Earth*Star Voyager ship would have already gotten back to Earth, since their original schedule would have brought them back 26 years later. So, lets see. The show was aired in 1988, meaning a “proper” sequel would have aired in 2014 … unless something happened. So maybe instead of crying that the original was never released on DVD, *real* fans could try to suggest a continuance of the story. Or maybe they could attempt a fan film.

  4. eric sanders

    in 1988 Disney did air the sci-fi miniseries call earth star voyager I never seen it before when they cancel it the miniseries so my idea is to resurrection the earth star voyager back as a remake like a reboot for Disney channel and Disney xd to bring back earth star voyager I just want that Disney and laugh production will develop the hit sci-fi miniseries into a tv series for four seasons starting with the two-part pilot movie episode in all the suspense the romance and some sci-fi action without cancellation please Disney bring back earth star voyager to be remade with all the from liv and maddie Austin and ally plus Jessie all in one hit sci-fi genre by 2018-2019 please earth star voyager must come home


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