In the’90s, there existed only two things: an awesome space opera by J. Michael Straczynski’s known as “Babylon 5” and a reality-bending movie entitled “The Matrix” by a pair of siblings known as the Wachowskis. Okay, realistically there was a lot more going on in the ‘90s besides those two things. There were pogs, light-up yoyos, and Goosebumps. We rocked the VHS tapes and other TV shows and were blissfully unaware of what the term ‘lag’ meant as we played Donkey Kong, Super Mario, and Final Fantasy on our SNES. Finally, there was the massive influx of beanie babies and Pokemon cards. Dear god, they were everywhere… Just everywhere.
(Sorry, I had a moment there. My apologies. I’m good now.)
Right! So, “Babylon 5”and “The Matrix.” Why do I bring these up? Because if you’ve heard anything about Netflix’s new original series “Sense8” then you would have heard that it’s helmed by both Straczynski and the Wachowski siblings. The series is about eight characters who share a telepathic connection that allows them to experience each other’s lives despite being separated by thousands of miles of land and sea. It’s a thrilling change for Netflix as it’s their first foray into the realm of science-fiction and, for me at least, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Afterwards, I read several reviews that thought the show was okay, but could’ve definitely done with a bit of oomph! Some outright said the show was horrible and I couldn’t let that stand, so I wanted to to take the time to address the eight reasons why I thought “Sense8” was a sensational spectacle of sci-fi. Without further adieu, here they are:
The music is absolutely intoxicating. From a dance number straight out of Bollywood to a MMA fight in Korea and straight on over to an elderly pianist playing classical music in the London Underground, the series’ 12 episodes are filled with an exceptional musical score that remains both pleasing to the ears and flows perfectly with what’s happening on-screen. To keep it spoiler-lite, there’s one point where one of them hears a song and they all begin to sing it in unison through their connection.
The locations are all real. Yes, that’s really Chicago and San Francisco. That’s London. And Mumbai and Nairobi and, y’know what, just take my word for it. They’re all real. The scenes were all shot in eight different countries with different directors responsible for different locales. That’s just impressive.
The opening credits are absolutely heart-warming. Despite being a sci-fi thriller/drama, the intro is reminiscent of a short film about love and other drugs. Honestly, if you watch nothing else about Sense8, at least watch this and the…
The big bad evil guys are mad scientists. Like for real. In a word, they’re scary. You don’t really see a whole lot of them throughout the first season, but they crop up every now and again and when they do, they’re nightmarish vivisectionists. Well, not nightmarish. They mostly look like doctors. But I’m scared! And if you don’t know what a vivisectionist does, it means they cut living people up for experimental purposes and these guys seem especially skilled at it.
The kickass fight scenes. Were you wondering whether or not the action in this series was going to be good? Why? You heard me mention the Wachowski siblings, right? Take a look at their track record (The Matrix, Ninja Assassin, Cloud Atlas) and never wonder again. Okay, sure, the siblings also had projects like Matrix 2 & 3 as well as Speed Racer, but they’re good when it comes to action, alright?
Because of how real the characters really are. Sense8 tackles all the issues we face today. From Nomi, a transgender woman trying to find her place in the world to Kala who faces an arranged marriage with someone she doesn’t love. There are also the topics of drugs, sexuality, violence, and prejudice. Everything is addressed in this series in some way, shape, or form.
The cast who plays those characters. We have Brian Smith (Stargate Universe) who plays Officer Will Gorski of the Chicago PD and Tuppence Middleton (Jupiter Ascending) as Riley Blue, an Icelandic DJ living in London. Aml Ameen (The Maze Runner), Tina Desai (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas), and several others all share the spotlight in Sense8. Despite the huge cast, not a one seems to take the spotlight away from the other.
The show is slow and confusing. If you’ve wandered the web already and looked up reviews for the series, then you will have already seen a dozen articles bashing on how slow and confusing “Sense8” is. The Wachowski siblings stated that they wanted to take all of Season One to just explore the different characters and their backgrounds and build things up for (hopefully) Season Two. In my eyes, this is a good thing. It gives the show a bit of breathing room to build more story and fill the plot out more.Who are these characters? We’re finding that out. What do these mad scientists cut-em-ups want with our characters? Okay, we kind of know.What’s going to happen? Well, now, that’s for later.
While “Sense8” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense right now, I imagine that Season One is there to simply bait the hook and wait for the right fish to come around and bite. For those of us who do get hooked, we’ll have to come back when Season Two floats on by and find out what’s going to happen to our intrepid sensates. Yeah, there have been a lot of hit-and-miss projects for the Wachowski siblings, but despite what other people might say, I don’t believe this is one of them.