High praise for COLONY, Season 2. In case you have not seen the first season, this review will contain a few spoilers for those first episodes, but none for season 2. You can read my review of Colony, Season 1 here

There is a third season of this show that will come to Netflix sometime this year (a few fan blogs predict as early as April 2019), having already aired on USA Network. Beware of going onto the USA Network site. You might stumble upon a few spoilers. USA Network features a number of still shots from season 3 in their promotion of COLONY.

Short Review…

The main reasons I recommend watching Season 2 is for the superb story and the characters. The writing is spot-on, a continuation of Season 1. Let me elaborate…

  1. The characters, whom the viewer has come to admire, love and/or mistrust in Season 1, develop and continue to feel real and relatable
  2. The mystery of the invasion is explained a bit more, but the story still holds plenty of tension
  3. The narrative continues to raise important moral questions around living under occupation…The moral conflict goes deep and is unique for each character. The show highlights this well.

Long Review…

I loved all of season 2, but found the early episodes incredibly fun to watch because they are a goldmine of backstory.

Season 1 of COLONY drops the viewer into an already occupied, alien-invaded planet. The viewer attaches to the characters first and then begins watching for clues to explain what is taking place. Even the characters living through the ordeal don’t know much. Some mysteries are explained, but many remain.

What is wonderful about season 2…Three key backstory events are provided.

  1. First contact with the aliens
  2. What took place on the actual day of the invasion
  3. How the invading aliens strategized with an early group of collaborating humans

Episode 1 of season 2 begins with another day in the life of the Bowman family, but in this case, it is the day of the invasion, hours before the wall comes down, isolating the LA Bloc from the rest of Southern California. (During season 1, the audience slowly learns that similar events have taken place in cities across the globe)

Packed into this episode is a window into how Snyder was chosen to rule over the masses.

Snyder: Proxy Governor of the LA Bloc for most of season 1

Two men in suits, collaborators who know that the invasion is imminent, recruit him. They recruit him because he has embezzled from an educational institute for which he works. They recruit him not in spite of, but because his integrity is compromised.

“Even great men make two or three mistakes in their lives,” Snyder says, when confronted.

The men in suits answer: “It’s the choices you make today that will determine your future. All you have to do is say yes.”

Snyder says yes to this Faustian bargain. We already know he is an important character. The audience has followed his career, his successes and failures and the ways he has and continues to intersect with the Bowmans. His presence is constantly a tension, but always interesting.

Episode 2 is delightful as it gives a few interesting point of view shifts via some clever cinematography

  1. A view of what the Raptor’s see, those are the robotic drones (if they are truly robotic) that rule the skies on occupied Earth.
  2. A view of what lies outside the LA Bloc, including Santa Monica, but also beyond, outside of the Urban landscape
  3. A peek into the alien mindset and culture…I can’t say more without a spoiler

I’m looking forward to season 3, which might come to Netflix as early as April, but sad because USA Network has confirmed its end. Three seasons of COLONY and no more. That’s the bad news…the good new is…

Season 3 of COLONY is being touted as outstanding and possibly better than both the first and second. I look forward to watching it and following my binge watching, I’ll be sure to post a review here.

 

 

 

 

A Danish star is born. Alba August as lead character, Simone

I recently binge-watched the final 5 episodes of the NETFLIX series THE RAIN…finishing the first season. Here is my take on the potent Danish production, dubbed for English-speaking viewers. By the way, I wasn’t annoyed by dubbing. I thought it was done well.

This series might earn an R rating if released on the big screen, so beware parents. This story contains some great characters and interesting ideas for discussion, but there are a few non-explicit sex scenes, some nudity and a lot of f-bombs…it is the end of the world, after all.

THE RAIN’s genre designation is probably more speculative fiction than science fiction. The story is driven by new science, so this is where the overlap lies…no aliens or spaceships (at least none so far), but there is a biological discovery that rests in the hands of a few and this technology is about to transform the world. The future tech is an element that would appeal to many science fiction fans…(Think TERMINATOR). And now for my review.

First, a short review without spoilers…

Season 1’s narrative follows a sister and brother pair, Simone and Rasmus Anderssen. They survive a deadly virus that infects the population through the rain. Their physician father is somehow in the know and connected to a biotech company called Apollon. They understand little about what is taking place, but they slowly discover the truth, as does the audience with them. Here are three reasons to consider watching THE RAIN.

  1. See the world’s end through the eyes of the Danes.  Sure, THE RAIN follows a well-worn storyline, but rather than the typical American/Canadian or British view on the apocalypse, but this time, we see survival through the eyes of Danish youth. I appreciated viewing their wanderings through cities, towns and topography I don’t typically see on the screen. Moreover, the survivors’ attitudes about who they will be in this new, empty world are also markedly more Scandinavian than American.
  2. The main players in the drama are well written and interesting. Similar to a few other speculative dramas, like The 100, the youth are smart, naive at times, attractive and slowly becoming a family.
  3. The overall plot makes sense, yet some mysteries are withheld in a good way. The narrative shows potential for a longer, more complicated drama, including the introduction of a sinister villain by the final episode.

And now for the longer review, with a few spoilers…

Martin, played by Mikkel Boe Følsgaard,

Simone (about 16 yrs) and Rasmus (about 10 yrs) enter the bunker having never seen its like before. Their father brings them on the first day of the rain, but then leaves, saying he can help with finding a cure. He promises to return to them, but never does. Their mother dies early as the rain touches her skin. This is the most dramatic reveal to Simone and the audience. The rain is absolutely toxic.  Simone watches as droplets fall from the sky, strike her mother’s skin and within moments, she convulses and dies.

For a short time, Simone is able to connect with a few individuals outside the bunker via the internet, but that contact comes to an end within hours as civilization breaks down. Simone and Rasmus are alone and know nothing of what is happening outside the bunker.

Simone raises her brother, holding onto the belief that her father will return for them at some point, but six years pass. When food begins to grow scarce and Rasmus shows signs of going berserk from being cooped up underground, Simone sneaks out of the bunker one night to explore a local town and figure out if there is safety outside. She finds decayed corpses and an abandoned town.

Without knowing someone has been watching her, she returns to the bunker. Three young men and two women follow her back. They sabotage the ventilation system forcing Simone and Rasmus to emerge. The sister brother pair face a group of strangers, all of whom are desperate for food.

The strangers seem bent on killing Simone and Rasmus, but a quick witted Simone convinces them that she knows where there are other bunkers and where there are bunkers…there is food.

The unlikely group sets out. Discovery takes place with each new bunker they find. In addition, episode by episode the audience becomes acquainted with the backstory of the various characters and so doing, the viewer learns some of what has transpired outside the bunker following the apocalyptic rains.

The backstories all come via flashbacks. This particular story-telling method has been utilized by many tv and film types, including the creators of LOST. However, I thought the short snippets of flashbacks in THE RAIN felt less heavy-handed than those in LOST and contributed to multiple layers of the plot, besides revealing character. So, if you’re not a fan of flashbacks…never fear, I don’t think they were overused.

Martin’s story (see photo) is presented in episode 2. Martin is the gruff leader of the survivors, former military and not afraid to kill anyone who endangers his group. He, along with Jean, Patrick, Lea and Beatrice and finally, the father to Simone and Rasmus, receive screen time that explains some of their history.

Specific spoilers included in paragraph below, but pay attention if you are a writer of speculative fiction

Regarding the writing of this series and typical tropes that populate end-of-the-world narratives, one can find many in THE RAIN. For most of us, we like them and don’t find them annoying. I also appreciated the little deviances around the various tropes.  For example: 1. the chosen child who will save humanity and must be protected at all costs, he’s actually the one who can also kill everyone 2. the evil corporation that sees its technology as a way to control humanity is seeding storm clouds with a virus…such a sophisticated weapon of mass destruction. 3. having sex just might just lead to your death…especially, if you’re even remotely slutty, but THE RAIN’s slut is a really sweet character and finds her way into our hearts before she is killed off 4. those seemingly happy survivors who are really a cult that practices cannibalism, they allow our young survivors to choose in or to leave freely…So humane! So Scandinavian!

Overall, I recommend THE RAIN. Add it to your Netflix queue and enjoy a wet winter!

Danger Will Robinson?

Let’s say you’re a single male/female scifi fan or no-kids couple and both of you are scifi fans. I say…YES, watch this. Let’s say you’re a family that likes scifi or even…you just like great stories, I say…ABSOLUTELY, YES! Watch LOST IN SPACE together. This series is totally fun and so far, it is blowing my socks off.

I couldn’t wait to give this review. I confess, I have not watched the entire first season of LOST IN SPACE, but I’ve watched enough  to give an initial review.

In particular, I want parents to see this review early in the summer. It’s fun to find a tv series that the entire family can watch together. Summer is the perfect time to take on such a community watching experience. I’ve seen five episodes of season one and feel confident this one is worthy of our attention. If you’re comfortable with a PG-13 rating, LOST IN SPACE is fantastic and here’s why…

This series contains:

  1. Action packed storylines, kid-centric in a good way, but still entertaining for adults.
  2. Deft story-telling, internal family tension, external forces that threaten the family and their survival…characters that are smart, but also clunky in their own ways and real-seeming (ok…those kids are all brainiacs, but they were chosen for the journey because of their intelligence).
  3. Perfect villains. Two main villains so far: Parker Posey as Dr. Smith and the robot(s). Posey plays a great devil within. Is she a time bomb waiting to go off, or is she on the road to becoming a more balanced human being? Stay tuned for that one. The great thing is, she creates tension in the system and has potential to draw out the best or worst of the characters around her.
  4. The robot character is wonderfully mysterious and yet lovable. Its relationship with Will is going to win over children of all ages not only because it is super cool, with the strength of a super hero and the loyalty of a dog, but she/he/it is also a mystery. The robot truly feels obliged to protect young Will…the relationship emerges in the pilot (first episode).
  5. Non-stop adventure. Thousands of potential storylines exploring a new world and learning how to survive…plus characters that have the potential to grow and in doing so, grow on us.

Congratulations to Netflix for re-imagining this beloved series in a way that honors the original and surprises us with the new. The stories are imaginative, the characters feel real and the special effects are soooo much better than the original!