TelevisionTalks: Another Life
As part of my Sci-Fi binging, I’ve checked out the first season of Another Life on Netflix. What drew my attention to it was the that it’s another first contact type of show, so kind of like Nightflyers that way, but with less in terms of the horror element, but let’s get to the story.
In Another Life, a mysterious alien artifact has flown to and then landed on Earth with no warning and no contact. No matter what people are doing, they haven’t been able to make contact with it, including the lead scientist, Erik Wallace. His wife, Niko Breckenridge, has been a spaceship commander but hasn’t been one for a while. Instead, after a series of unfortunate events in her life, she found Erik and they had a kid together. But when they figure out where the artifact is sending information to, she’s called back into her role as a commander on the Salvare to lead an expedition to where the signal is being sent. Meanwhile, Erik takes their daughter and continues to try and find a way to communicate with the artifact on Earth, but in neither case, do things go as they’d hope.
There’s a couple of interesting things about this show, first, I’ll say that the acting is solid on the show. Katee Sackhoff, possibly best known for playing Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica does a good job in this show and the crew of the ship is endearing and frustrating all at the same time. Justin Chatwin as Erik Wallace does a good job as well, in fact, probably the highlight for the show for me. I think that he gets down the role of a caring father but also the scientist who gets too wrapped up in his work at times really well, but he’s always a gentle soul, which is a juxtaposition to Sackhoff’s Breckenridge who is much of a harder person because of what she’s seen. There are other characters who are interesting as well and there is a good amount of character development that happens as well.
Another thing that is interesting, and another juxtaposition, is the two stories that are happening at the same time. On Earth with Erik Wallace, it’s about the frustration that can happen when things aren’t going well, about how you can get too wrapped up in science or in work and lose sight of the important things around you. And while you get some of that from Niko Breckenridge on the Salvare storyline as well, it’s definitely less of that, and more focused in on things going wrong and crew tensions on the spaceship. They both have their own tensions, but on Earth it’s more the question of when they will figure out what the artifact does and how to interact with it, more of an exploration tension versus a survival tension. It blends well and breaks what would basically just be stress from the Salvare storyline with what is happening on Earth. As I said, Erik is such a gentle soul that it just feels more relaxed throughout.
I will say that I think the Salvare storyline has some rough spots in it. While on Earth the story is fairly straight forward as you’re wondering about how they are going to create first contact with the artifact, the Salvare storyline can get into a lot of melodrama, and has parts of the story that feel rushed. Not going to spoil who ends up dying in the show, no surprise that some characters will, but some of those deaths seem a little bit rushed in the Salvare storyline, like they could have done some more character development to get you to the point where you really care. I think that you care a little bit for some of those characters who die, but not all that much, and it kind of retreads some story elements as well. When it’s done in parallel with what’s happening on Earth, it’s much more interesting, when it covers some of the same ground that they already did on the Salvare, it seems like they are trying to fill out stuff after having rushed other elements of the story.
In terms of the Sci-Fi elements to the show, I think that it does well. It offers some bigger questions about the universe, humanity, and what makes humans human, and I think that Sci-Fi at it’s best can ask those questions because they feel different than real life, so it’s easier to dig into them that way. That said, I don’t think that this is groundbreaking Sci-Fi by any means. It’s simply looking at a lot of concepts and ideas we’ve already seen in it’s own way. In some ways it’s like Nightflyers like that, where the Sci-Fi elements aren’t highly unique, but they aren’t done poorly either.
Overall, I think that this is a solid show. I think that both storylines can be a bit predictable, Earth and Salvare, and while there are meant to be some shocking or surprising moments, I don’t think that there are that many that are extremely well pulled off, again, because it’s fairly predictable. All of that said, it is a good show, the acting is good, and there are some interesting characters. One that I didn’t mention yet that I really like is William both he and Erik are probably the best parts of the show and areas where you can get some slightly less standard Sci-Fi, though, just slightly. If you’re a Sci-Fi, one to checkout, and I think it’s a solid introductory Sci-Fi show if you aren’t.
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