Review: Another Life on Netflix
I definitely enjoy sci-fi on television, but I have to be honest… Before I decided to give Another Life a shot, a friend shared her thoughts on the show: “It’s not original, too many ideas from other shows, and comes off like a B-movie.” Not very flattering so I decided to put off checking it out.
Then, Twitter happened. A number of people I chat TV with started a thread about the show – They were excited and they had a lot of positive things to say. So, now what? What’s a guy to do?
Sit down and binge it, of course – and that’s what I did.
The show has a fairly good sized cast… Led by Niko (Katee Sackhoff –Battlestar Galactica) and her A.I. counterpart, William, played by Samuel Anderson (Doctor Who), they captain/lead the ship “Salvare” into space with crew members played by Tyler Hoechlin, A.J. Rivera, Blu Hunt, Jake Abel, JayR Tinaco, Alexander Eling, Alex Ozerov and more.
Our team on Earth is focused around our military, government, and scientists trying to get to the bottom of everything. Erik Wallace, Niko’s husband, (Justin Chatwin – Shameless) is our main guy on the ground trying to figure out how to connect with the aliens and their artifact. He’s forced to work around a pain-in-the-butt social media vlogger, Harper Glass (Selma Blair – Anger Management), and General Dubois (Barbara Williams – Flashforward) from the United States Interstellar Command.
Space exploration in the future – primarily because an alien “artifact” has landed on Earth. Our show is split between two parts… What’s happening on Earth as they try to figure out what this artifact is and/or does – and the mission in space to find the source and determine what needs to be done.
There’s drama EVERYWHERE in this show. Tough decisions being made across the board: the crew in space learning as they go with a lot of contention between various characters, and those on Earth not always agreeing about what needs to happen next.
If you took a little of Aliens, Star Trek, and even some 2010: The Year We Make Contact… and mashed it all together – you’d get a pretty good idea what this show is about. (And let’s face it – those are big names – so it must be good, right?)
So Many Shows Scoring 1-10: 5.5
High points: Even though a lot of the sci-fi aspects have been done before, the various storylines in this show are still pretty compelling and keep you entertained. Watching the characters adapt as their stories progress keeps you involved and wanting more. A credit to the entire cast – as I thought they all did a really good job – even when some scenes might be a little silly.
I also really enjoyed how the show seemingly makes fun of social media… Bragging about “250 million followers” with a certain character over and over… Sounds like follower count is an annoying status symbol in the future too!
Potential low points: Two things drove me a little crazy about this show… First, the CGI is random at best. Meaning sometimes it looked pretty good, other times it felt very novice. They landed on a moon – some of the effects were REALLY good. I believed what I saw, but then I saw Saturn. Which looked like someone just borrowed a basic artist’s rendition of the planet. There was no substance and instead of looking like the planet in the background – it looked like a poster on the wall.
My other sticking point was the bouncing around in the story – some scenes in the past, some in the present – and a few times I really had to struggle to figure out what was going on and why – and how it was relevant to the scene prior. It sometimes felt out of order, so instead of being able to enjoy some of the moments on screen, it was forced confusion and resigning myself to say “ok, maybe that will make sense later…”
Final thoughts: Not really knowing what to expect based on the initial thoughts from numerous TV friends, I tried to enter this series with an open mind. Is it the best sci-fi show anyone has ever seen? No. Is it worth someone spending the 8 hours it takes to get through the series? Yes.
While it had some missing pieces and perhaps even some “over done” bits, I felt compelled to find out what happens. I found myself engrossed enough in the show that I watched all ten episodes within 24 hours. So, while I gave it a fairly average rating overall, I think most viewers will enjoy the show. I’m not convinced I like how the season ends, but that might be because I still haven’t digested everything yet.
Give it a shot – because what do television critics/reviewers know anyway?
On a side note, and I’m guessing most will agree with me on this… William is my favorite character. Who is yours?
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