TL;DR – A campy schlocky mess at times, but also kind of endearing when it hits its groove
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
We have been living through an interesting time for Science Fiction on TV, with the rise of streaming services we have seen a plethora of new shows and ideas that both look to the future and reinterpret the past. Today we are getting a Sci-fi show that kind of does both, building upon very real concerns in the world but framing it in a style of Sci-Fi that we have not seen in a long time. With that in mind let’s jump in and explore the full first season.
So to set the scene, we open with a normal day on Earth in the not too distant future after the world has been devastated by a second great depression and the great flood. Things are starting to return to some sort of normalcy when an alien ship smashes through the atmosphere flies across the USA and crashes into a field transforming itself into a huge crystalline lattice. Months later, they are still no closer to finding out what the artefact is or wants, but they have picked up a transmission to the Pi Canis Majoris solar system. To work out what to do they send the USIC Salvare under the command of Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff) out to investigate. Niko had to leave her daughter Jana (Lina Renna) and her husband Erik (Justin Chatwin) behind as Erik is leading the scientific mission at the crash site. But before too long things start going wrong, and we still don’t know if the aliens are friends or foe. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
the show spends its time jumping from what is happening on the Salvare to what is going on back on
Earth. This thematically works because Niko and Erik are the two leaders of the
different parts of the mission. As well as this, it helps with the flow of the
show because it allows you to shift things up when you need to add to the
tension. This also flows into the tone of the show, which I think from perusing
through comments on Reddit is one that people are not as familiar with. It is
clear that Another Life is written in
the style of a more campy Sci-Fi show, as you would see in the 1960s but with a
veneer of modern sensibility put over the top. To be honest, this was a bit grating
at the start, like in the opening episode Across
the Universe where there is a lot of forced drama to get things going.
However, as the show went on and found its tonal groove, I found it really
compelling. Though, and this is coming from someone that does not care about
coarse language, you really could have dialled back on the cursing, because by
the second or third episode it had lost all its impact.
As far as the acting goes, it is a very particular style, so it is going to be something that is either going to gel with you or annoy you. For example, you have Jake Abel who plays Sasha Harrison, the sort of cowardly son of the Secretary of Defence that only got to where he is because of his father who then gets infected by the artefact. This means we have some almost Gollum/Smeagol like conversations, which I have not seen someone attempt seriously for a while. I think one of the standouts has to be Samuel Anderson who plays William, the ship’s AI holographic interface. Netflix has a real penchant for AI Characters that steal every scene that they are in, but hey it works. To add to this Katee Sackhoff does a really good job of being the emotional drive for the show, with a lot of the plot-driving weight put on her shoulders. Another place we see this style come in is in the shows need to focus on cliffhangers. Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, like Niko killing Ian (Tyler Hoechlin), which propels you forward, which is handy in a stream/binge scenario, however, once you notice it, it does get a bit predictable.
far as the overarching story goes, it was a bit hit and miss at times, but
mostly I think it did everything it needed to do. There was an interesting
blend of ‘danger-of-the-week’ episodes with the more serialised story. This
gives the show a chance to explore some things like having an episode that more
than delves into some body-horror, and to allow some character development. I
did also like that you could not be entirely sure if the aliens are evil or not
for most of the season. Even when they did start to turn evil, it was played as
a self-defence mechanism which added to the grey nature of it. Also, I am here
for future worldbuilding so I did like all the little bits of information about
the history of Earth that is brought up. However, looking back, this first
season feels like a prologue, which is fine but I think we could have gotten
from the start to the finish of the season’s story a lot quicker if this was
just a setup to propel the story further in the second season.
In the end, do we recommend Another Life? Well, I think that is going to depend on the person. The show is being presented in a very particular style, and you will probably know by the third episode if that style is for you or not. I found myself enjoying the more pulpy tone even though at times it didn’t quite work. The production design is interesting, the effects are fine for TV, and some of the characters really grew on me. I think it is a good sign that I would like to see where they go now that all the cards have been revealed, and I hope we see that in Season Two.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you seen Another Life yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Another Life
Directed by – Omar Madha, Metin Hüseyin, Mairzee Almas, Allan Arkush & Sheree Folkson
Written by – Aaron Martin, Naledi Jackson, Alex Levine, Amanda Fahey, Romeo Candido, Lauren Gosnell, Alejandro Alcoba, Lucie Pagé, Sean Reycraft & Jackie May
Created by – Aaron Martin
Production/Distribution Companies – Halfire Entertainment & Netflix
Starring – Katee Sackhoff, Justin Chatwin, Samuel Anderson, Blu Hunt, A.J. Rivera, Jake Abel, Alex Ozerov, Alexander Eling, JayR Tinaco, Lina Renna & Selma Blair with Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Ludlow, Jessica Camacho, Barbara Williams, Helen King, Parveen Dosanjh, Chanelle Peloso & Greg Hovanessian.
Episodes Covered – Across the Universe, Through the Valley of Shadows, Nervous Breakdown, Guilt Trip, A Mind of its Own, I Think We’re Alone Now, Living the Dream, How the Light Gets Lost, Heart and Soul & Hello