Defying Gravity's Reality

I've enjoyed the first three episodes of ABC's Defying Gravity, a show about a multi-year mission to visit strange new worlds...errr...sorry...all seven other planets in the solar system. It takes place after 2050, and the show gets the tone of near future without crazy bullcrap just right. Things have advanced, especially rocket technology, but there's still garbage, drinking, infrequent public transportation, and bureaucracy.

The show has its holes, however. (Update at bottom!) The spaceship has a few minor rotating rings, but also zero G. They get around the special effects budget for zero G by explaining in episode 1 that the astronauts wear nanotech suits that provide an electromagnetic attraction to an artificial down.

Of course, that doesn't explain why Ron Livingston is tossing his baseball in a perfect arc in his quarters. Or why this is demonstrated with a tomato being floated through space in the vivarium, but plants are growing with a down orientation, producing normal fruit, and a handheld misting sprayer (an insane idea in zero G) produces mist instead of propelled tiny globules. And unless there's a static hair thing, their hair should be all over the place, too.

They could have made the whole damn thing rotate for micro-gravity, or introduced a typical device like a dense material (made of neutrons or something) that was balanced by inertia with minimal tidal forces. There are about 1,000 methods in sci-fi to "solve" this problem. (In Star Trek, they just said, we've got gravity plates on each deck. End of story, but not very realistic. On the other hand, it's 500 years in the future, and they have anti-matter engines.)

Also odd, no delay in communications. Perhaps they have an ansible, but it's a major bummer (not a character on the show). It would make more sense to either integrate the notion of superluminal communications in passing -- "it's remarkable how this mission wouldn't have been possible without the Swiss tachyon acceleration breakthroug"..."Yes, isn't it" -- or use the time delay as a significant plot point.

There's also a major plot point -- potential SPOILER for those who haven't seen the show at all -- involving a pregnancy, a vasectomy, and an abortion that they're being all coy about in some ways. Livingston's Donner has a one-night stand with Zoe Barnes (played by Laura Harris), and when she asks about protection, he says he had a vasectomy. She believes him. This becomes a whole ugly thing, mostly revealed in the first episode, and trickling out through subsequent ones.

But Zoe, like everyone else, would know that Donner was sterilized before he went to Mars 10 years earlier. It's part of the protocol. In the show, abortion is illegal (although seen as a temporary thing). So Zoe's most reasonable response would have been, it's not his fault: the vasectomy didn't take or reversed spontaneously (which can happen), and, damn. Instead, it's "oh, the guy is lying about it" deal. Or so it seems. In the show, it's pretty clear that an alien is responsible for anything weird.

Update! Just watched episode 4, and they explained several of the above points. A little cute in some cases, but it works. The astronauts use a nanoparticle magnetic hairspray to avoid problems in zero G, which actually makes perfect sense. The living quarters do rotate to provide microgravity, which then explains Livingston tossing his ball. The tomato is still inexplicable.