Another Life (2019 Netflix series)

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Charles Phipps, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

    Sep 17, 2011


    This is a very difficult show to review and I don't often say that. I've done something like two thousand reviews total in my career as an author, reviewer, and internet commentator. It's very easy to review shows you like or dislike. It's harder to review shows you have mixed feelings about. How, exactly, do you review a show that is objectively terrible but you love? Another Life is a gloriously trashy program and one that I strongly recommend people watch but they should do so with the full awareness it's terrible. Terribly fun too! I should warn you that there's going to be some mild spoilers here because you can't really talk about this show without sharing some of its dumber moments. I really recommend watching it for them, though. You need the context for how off the wall events in this show can be.

    I like the Mobius Strip design of the alien artifact.

    The premise is that a mysterious alien object has landed on the Earth and proven that we are not alone in the universe. The United States assembles its best and brightest to send into space to contact this alien race using newly-developed faster-than-light technology. Simultaneously, experts attempt to communicate with the object below. Coincidentally, the heads of said teams are Captain Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff) and Eric Wallace (Justin Chatwin), a married couple. They will be parted for six months if all goes well on this journey and this is doubly hard because they have a young daughter.

    This is a perfectly fine hard-ish science fiction premise and a lot of people assumed that was what the series was going to be about. A bit 2001: A Space Odyssey perhaps but, ultimately, a solid premise about First Contact and dealing with something unknown. The thing is, that is not what this show is about. Not in the slightest. This is much closer to Jason X and Prometheus where a bunch of extremely pretty people are trapped on a starship before they die horribly every episode.

    Star Trek: Enterprise levels of fanservice without the pretext.

    One of the things that I commented on with Prometheus is that it is a movie with a profoundly stupid cast. They have nothing on the crew of the Salvare, though. For an example, none of the crew wear uniforms because they've been abolished and, instead, wear sexy leisure wear including thigh-high boots as well as tank tops. One character also doesn't trust the captain, Sackhoff, because anyone over twenty-seven is all-downhill professionally. There's are rules against fraternization but these get ignored as the crew hooks up repeatedly in a variety of combinations, including the A.I of the ship developing an obsession with the captain.

    The voyages of the Salvare consists of the crew having sex, getting high, and getting killed in roughly that order. Each episode shows another disaster that is caused by sabotage, mutiny, incompetence, or the vengeful hand of God that would take awhile to explain. Most of the crew are kept in stasis for the trip so whenever one of them dies, their replacement is promptly de-thawed. The comparisons to a slasher movie are not unjustified or lightly made but a completely serious comparison. As a fan of B-movie science fiction and slasher movies both, I have no problem with any of this. When someone's nervous system rips out of their back and crawls away, I was entertained not offended.

    The proper wear for outer space travel. Space Gap!

    I mean, I really can't underscore what a collection of morons this group of people are. Some examples are: they miss a moon, they mutiny against their captain because she won't take an 11% chance of their ship being destroyed to shave months off their trip, they get take samples of alien plants to get high off of, they refuse to explain basic facts about situations (like, "the guy I killed was coming at me with a screwdriver"), and remove their environmental suits repeatedly despite previous infections. I mean, at one point, a character kills another character then de-thaws the dead character's girlfriend to replace them. Did we mention said character was recruited from a cartel that kidnapped people for ransom? By said person who de-thaws her? Earth really sent its best and brightest here.

    The parts set on Earth are marginally less stupid but that's a matter of degrees rather than kind. Eric Wallace attempts to use pigeons to communicate with the artifact, leaks the details of the alien contact to the public at large through a Youtube celebrity, has a politician decide to invade the artifact's TARDIS-like interior, and decides whether or not he's going to leak based on a bar bet.

    Blaire has probably the most serious plotline.

    On the plus side, it also has Selma Blair as said Youtube celebrity and I appreciate anything she's in. The aliens are being surprisingly obtuse when they understand human speech, ideas, and concepts fine enough to communicate when they feel like it. Unfortunately, the "clues" that Eric decodes are surprisingly simple ones like communicating in binary or with music. They also screw that up because they choose one of the few things in binary that doesn't include any zeros.

    All ten episodes are one disaster after the other with an endless series of cliffhangers, melodrama, and twists. I had an enormous amount of fun binge-watching this collection of pretty people getting themselves in life-threatening situations or falling in love. However, if you're expecting a hard science and serious drama like the Expanse then run far-far away.

    Kitty Worrier likes this.