Let’s talk about the new series Another Life on Netflix, without spoiler.
When the first trailer shows up, a lot of people were excited and saying that this would be a new amazing kind of sci-fi, somehow a mix between Stargate, Star-Trek and even X-Files, or whatever. Personally, what I got from the trailer was that the story would be confusing and a lot of moment did not seem to match the genre.
Well apparently I was right, but let’s get deeper.
What is Another Life?
The show starts in a near future, with an alien spaceship landing on earth, with the form of a giant crystal. And….. it does not do anything. So a group decides to study it, while another group of astronauts is sent to the planet of origin of that thing. This means that the show will be 30% of the time on earth and 70% in the spaceship. The point is trying to know if those aliens are dangerous or not. So the overall plot is very decent and I do understand why it went into production.
The special effects are pretty good, so there was definitely some budget and it could have been a very good show.
Reality TV in space
I think that the first problem is that all the crew seems to be the cast of a reality TV show. Honestly, sometimes I had the feeling to watch a new concept which could be “Space Story” with 10 people trapped in a spaceship and you just follow what they will (stupidly) do every day.
It is a very long and complicated mission, and you would think that they took the best of the best, but apparently not. That people would be well trained, physically and mentally, that they would be rigorous. They do claim it but all of them got some psychological disorder, they all have some dodgy past. Known for being violent, known for being a criminal, I mean, really? None of them also got rigorous army training. Talking about that, none of them seems to be from the army which is really strange considering that the idea of the mission is to see if the aliens are dangerous or not. Having a bit of a strategist and weapons would be useful.
So, as I say, were are following that group of adults acting like teenagers, falling love and sleeping with each other, making and taking drugs. Getting jealous and punching each other because of that, having to decide if they want to have a baby or not. Yes, that is not a joke. As a reminder, they are supposed to be on a mission to save Earth! Each episode is basically like that, a lot of base on love and hard breakup.
I understand that it could make them more interesting than having a group of well-trained people but … actually no, the problem is just that Another Life is written as a teenager one and really not for adults.
More luck than skills
During the whole season of Another Life , the spaceship will encounter problems and need to find a way to fix it. Most of the time it will be a ridiculous problem that one person from the crew will create because he/she did something stupid. And most of the time the solution will come with an incredible quantity of luck. No more oxygen? well, the captain found a planet with oxygen just nearby, let’s go there but without safety precaution, so there is another problem for the next episode. No water or food? Let’s do that again! I was waiting for the moment where they run out of fuel and find an asteroid with just a pump attached to it, because why not, right?
If you compare it to the Martian movie, you understand clearly the gap between the two. The technology of the ship is also fluctuating. Sometimes they do have some almost impossible technology and sometimes they do not have other things that we basically almost have nowadays. To go back the Reality TV thing, it once again looks like we give them a challenge, but also the answer at the same time because the only thing we want is just the team to do something instead of just sleeping all day long.
No character development/attachment
Yes, there is basically no character development. The only person that got that a bit is the captain of the ship, but that is also because a major part of the show is focused on her. And that is also where I see a problem. It is supposed to be a team, a whole crew, but the only person who finds solutions, who always know what to do, who always find the solution is the captain. She is also always right when someone else contradicts her. But as a reminder, most of their problem solving is just based on luck. So when you think about it she is not right, just extremely lucky. And at some point that makes you wonder why there is actually a crew and what are the other guys there for?
If you check at Stargate or Star-Trek, each character got its own area of expertise and each of them will find the solution of a different problem. That gives you no reason to be attached or to feel close to some of the character.
My conclusion is pretty obvious, despite being shown as a sci-fi show, Another Life is a teenager show. The equivalent of OC., Beverly Hills or any new show like that. What we see is people confronted with becoming adults, having to make decisions, having a strong break up with people they love and having to move forward. It is a genre, and I have nothing against it. However, it does not fit very well in that specific case, with that story. If the story was that we send the last people living on earth and tough luck they all have disorders and they make their own rules, then ok. But here that is not what we are told.
So my advice, do not watch Another Life. I really had to punish me in watching the end of the season to write this review.