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TV REVIEW: Borealis (Pilot Episode) – Watch a Fantastic 90 Minute SciFi Debut Right Here!

REVIEW SUMMARY: A fantastic hour and a half of SF television.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A body falls out of the sky in the Canadian Arctic and sparks an international firestorm in a post-oil world.

PROS: Fantastic plotting, acting and potential.
CONS: Never picked up for a series.

In the Canadian TV pilot Borealis, which aired back in January 2013 on the Space Channel, a body falls out of the sky in the Canadian arctic, and threatens to cause a major international incident. Taking place in the near-ish future, global energy supplies have declined, leaving many nations to look for new sources of oil. The Canadian arctic contains some untapped oil reserves, and the world wants a piece of it. The Russians are interested, and looking far into the past to see if there was a Russian presence (and thus some claim on the land), while environmentalists are out documenting abuses.

Into the middle of this complicated mess is Vic, a Canadian agent who owns a bar in the border town called Borealis. He caters to all types: the Russians, Environmentalists, folks looking for a job, Canadian military, and others. He simply wants to make a living and with the arrival of the body, he finds himself stuck in the middle of all the problems, while trying to figure out who killed the guy, and just why he’s got some ancient nails in his pocket.

There’s a lot to love in this short film / pilot. Vic, played by Ty Olssen (Battlestar Galactica / Arrow), is a solid center to the show, and his interactions with the wide range of side characters is both natural and generally hilarious – his sidekick, Taq (Patrick Gallagher), absolutely steals the show with his deadpan attitude towards everything.

This reminds me of a couple of things that I’ve seen on bookshelves lately – Tobias Buckell’s Arctic Rising and Margaret Atwood’s story Bearlift, and this seems like it could have been an early foray into climate-focused science fiction on the small screen, something that we’ve seen already in books in the couple of years.

What stood out for me is that Borealis was a surprisingly smart production: it’s plot was impeccable, both setting up a world and characters, all the while having a superior story to boot, making it better than most of the productions that make it to the television. It’s a bit of a shame that it wasn’t picked up for a full series, because if this was the starting point, where it ended up could be really interesting.

At the end of the day, Borealis is a great hour and a half that stands fairly well on its own. Hopefully, we’ll see something like it make the rounds again at some point.

About Andrew Liptak (180 Articles)
Andrew Liptak is a freelance writer and historian from Vermont. He is a 2014 graduate of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and has written for such places as Armchair General, io9, Kirkus Reviews, Lightspeed Magazine, and others. His first book, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction is now out from Apex Publications, and his next, The Future Machine: The Writers, Editors and Readers who Build Science Fiction is forthcoming from Jurassic London in 2015. He can be found over at and at @AndrewLiptak on Twitter.

4 Comments on TV REVIEW: Borealis (Pilot Episode) – Watch a Fantastic 90 Minute SciFi Debut Right Here!

  1. Rick York // April 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm //

    Is this Canada only?

    • The show was broadcast originally in Canada – I don’t know if there are plans to bring it to the US. This video should be viewable in the US.

  2. I watched this last night via the YouTube link above. I liked it but didn’t love it. Not enough SF or even a good ‘question’ premise. Way too much drama that could have been substituted in almost any other type of show.

  3. Debs Houston // April 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm //

    firstly this is not the first time i had seen the show & whole heartedly loved it. such a great pilot for any show. it had everything a show needs, a serious topic but with the added enjoyment of the bad guys V the good guys (even tho the dividing line is a bit blurry). Ty Olsson, Patrick Gallagher & Paulino Nunes were amazing. this has so much potential to be a worldwide hit as there is so many stories that can be told as the foundations are strong enought to carry it . I for one will be doing all i can to spread the word of the show & get all my friends watching.

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