Tuesday, May 09, 2017

TV: NETFLIX's finest series returns

In 2016, we praised SENSE8 without reservation but we did question NETFLIX's decision to dump all the episodes at once.

This go round, we don't question the opportunity to binge.


That's not just because season two is even stronger but also because our attachment to the characters is now firmly established.

As strong as season one was, season two is stronger.

The action scenes are more intense, the character motivation is clearer, the storylines more sure.

Toby Onwumere steps into the character of Van Damme with a surefooted naturalness.  Aml Ameen had done a good job playng the role in season one but Onwumere brings a maturity to the role that makes his decision to run for public office completely believable.

Jamie Clayton remains the heart of the show in many ways and the chemistry between her Nomi and Freema Agyeman's Neets has only grown stronger.  You don't just want Nomi to escape the authorities, you want her and Neets to find happiness.

The chemistry between Max Riemelt's Wolfie and Tina Desai's Kala has also strengthened.

If any couple loses out, it's Tuppence Middleton's Riley and Brian J. Smith's Will.  Will's pulled to the overarching story of tracking the villain Whispers (Terrence Mann) which is logical plot wise but surprising since Will (and the others) risked so much for Riley as season one drew to a close.

That said, the show's themes are stronger this season: Acceptance and hope.

As dystopia has overtaken most sci-fi, SENSE8 stands out as a show, like the original STAR TREK, that sees the future as something we don't need to fear.

In scene after scene, we're reminded that differences can be embraced or feared and that the latter route can lead to violence.

This message shines through -- the way Daryl Hannah's Angelica does when she shows up in flashbacks.

Miguel Angel Silvestre's Lito remains with his boyfriend Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) and their friend Daniela (Erendira Ibarra) -- a family of three.  They link together in a similar manner to the way the 8 sensates are both part of a cluster and their own unique family.

It's rare that a show can be seen as life affirming -- STAR TREK and THE BIONIC WOMAN are two examples.

That's because fear not only sells, it's such an obvious emotion, as Shirley MacLaine has often pointed out.  For example, from Shirley's WHAT IF . . . A LIFETIME OF QUESTIONS, SPECULATIONS, REASONABLE GUESSES, AND A FEW THINGS I KNOW FOR SURE:

Audiences might like being entertained by war, but they don't like participating in it.
The theaters of war and terror in the world are literally financed by our fears.  Fear makes money.
[. . .]
One of the most disturbing truths about show business and the effect is has on public consciousness is the development deals in place to portray extraterrestrials as evil and something to be afraid of.  According to the current rules in the entertainment business, alien invasion is in the works, and that necessitates increased military protection, which is also in the works.  The militarization of space will become necessary, according to the "new" entertainment. 

SENSE8 is challenging fair that draws together instead of dividing.

It manages to excite and hold the interest while painting on a large canvas.

Season two was a question mark according to the media last year.

And there was talk that, if season two did come off, it would be the last.

SENSE8, even more than STRANGER THINGS, is the reason NETFLIX exists.

Doona Bae's Sun, for example, could exist on another TV series.  She could even be strong on another TV series.  But on any other TV series, she'd be surrounded by men -- a victim of what we long ago identified as The Deanna Durbin Syndrome: 100 MEN AND A GIRL.

It's a syndrome ABC has long trafficked in -- from ALIAS to Maggie Q's one-woman squad on DESIGNATED SURVIVOR (we're not insulting Maggie Q, she's doing a wonderful job, we are noting that she's the only woman doing anything -- especially now that the Speaker of the House has become the Secretary of Education).

It's what NETFLIX could carry us away from, could and should.

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