I have watched a few new (well new to me) science-fiction shows over the past few months. A couple were excellent , two others will require more viewing to decide, and another had so many clichés in the first episode I was immediately sent looking for something slightly more original. I will start with the good ones.
Utopia is a six-part British mini-series. Set in a near future England where a group of comic book fans get their hands on the notes for a sequel to a cult comic book. Those notes contain hidden details of a plan to re-engineer the future of humanity, so the fans become the target of government spy agencies and other mysterious organisations. The series is full of tension, complications, and striking visuals. The characters are non-mainstream, especially a killer sent to hunt them down.
Orphan Black is a Canadian mini-series. A petty criminal watches a woman who could be her double jump in front of train. The suicide victim left her handbag on the platform, so the criminal grabs it and then assumes her identity. The suicide victim was a police detective investigating other people who looked exactly like her. This series has many slightly off-centre characters, especially a female assassin.
Real Humans is a Swedish mini-series that I have just started watching it. It is set in an alternative world where human like androids are as common as mobile phones. The first episode jumped straight in, with no explanation and had a number of different storylines, all involving people’s interaction with androids. One story suggests the androids might be about to revolt. Another asks what humans will do when androids are capable of doing nearly everything a human can do. A further story seems set to explore human/android sexual relationships. I look forward to watching more of the series on SBS2.
The Tomorrow People
The Tomorrow People is an American remake of two British series of the same name. A high school student hears voices in his head and continually wakes up in other nearby locations. The owner of the voice in his head appears and she informs him that he is a Tomorrow Person with special powers. The first episode was full of boring beautiful people and clichés. A jock bullies our hero, the beautiful female has an arrogant boyfriend, the hero’s father was a leader of the Tomorrow People, and bad government meanies want to capture all the Tomorrow People. Need I say more? I will probably watch the second episode and hope something unexpected happens. The writers of this show should watch AIphas, a show full of slightly off key characters.
Star Crossed is an American science-fiction romance series. An alien race lands on earth, and because Americans are so paranoid and have so many guns, they attack and kill most of them. A decade or so later the remaining aliens are kept in detention camps. Some of their kids are allowed out to attend high school. There’s no need for special toilets to be built or for the canteen to serve alien food, or for the aliens to wear special breathing apparatus to breathe our toxic atmosphere, because the aliens are exactly like us, only more beautiful than people outside of television land. To make the aliens stand out as something to be discriminated against they have some tatts on their neck. They also behave exactly like human kids do. A bit of makeup and who would know they are alien at all.
Of course, a human female and an alien male fall for each other. What’s that I hear you say, sounds a bit like Buffy and Angel (but with absolutely none of the wit or offbeat characters), or thousands of other stories of forbidden love between races or classes. This type of story has been done to death, leave it alone.
I hope that there are more science-fiction series in production that are like Orphan Black and Utopia: full of non-mainstream characters that force the story off cliché.