While derivative, this Canadian/South African production, currently airing on Space, makes for exciting viewing.


Title: “The Big Bang”

Cast and Crew:

Director: T.J. Scott
Writers: Sean Carley et al.

Jeffrey Pierce as Charlie Jade
Patricia McKenzie as Reena
Tyrone Benskin as Karl Lubinsky
Michelle Burgess as Essa Rompkin
Marie-Julie Rivest as Jasmine/Paula
Michael Filipowich as 01 Boxer
David Dennis as Sew Sew Tukarrs

Plot:

A private investigator with a history of hallucinations– in fact, glimpses he somehow gets into alternate universes, though he is only beginning to realize this– stumbles onto a conspiracy involving an evil corporation, three parallel universes, and plans to ravage a pristine, resource-rich version of earth.

High Points:

The plot may initially be confusing, but it comes together nicely, and the handling of parallel universes blows away anything Sliders ever managed. I also like the fact that not all our future band of heroes have formally met yet– one is running in fear of another– and that the show was willing, in the current political climate, to give us a sympatheic terrorist.

Initially, we likely watch with the assumption that the “alphaverse,” where the story begins and our hero lives, is our world, some time in the near future. In fact, it’s a parallel earth, and we soon realize that the initially odd-looking (because of our entry point) “betaverse” more closely approximates ours, and Charlie in fact inhabits an alternate, cyberpunkesque present.

Low Point:

When Reena escapes from Vexcorp security, the show treats us to the lame cliché of multiple trained guards with high-tech rifles who can’t hit a person who has only one direction in which to run. Also, she stops to touch her comrade, whom they somehow managed to kill. Short of sporting a jacket with a target on the back, she could not possibly have been an easier hit. Vexcorp clearly should’ve thought more carefully before they agreed to that employee exchange program with the Imperial Stormtroopers.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 It’s not just that stories involving parallel universes and gateways to alternate universes have been done before. This show pilfers many sources. The creators have acknowledged that the look of the alphaverse is a “tribute” to Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner– at what point does a tribute become a rip-off? Some of those skyline shots could be from Bladerunner, and the series also features the not-always-necessary narration of that film’s original release.

Beyond the Ridley Scott riffs, we have a gritty, pill-popping hero who gets his medication from an attractive mystery woman, drives around a film noir-influenced world, and must deal with corrupt officials and the sociopathic but untouchable spoiled-brat son of an influential person. There’s even an odd-looking villain who is a different colour than other human beings. It seems to me Frank Miller’s done something like this before. There’s even a touch of Tank Girl to the plot. (Wait a minute– we’ve never reviewed Tank Girl? Oh, that’s an oversight that shall be redressed soon).

Effects: 5/6.

Story: 5/6. The story can be confusing, but it comes together. The two narrators are as often intrusive as they are helpful, and I hope that future episodes limit the amount of voice-over to which we are subjected.

Acting: 5/6.

Emotional Response: 5/6.

Production: 6/6. The production is good, although some might find the excessive use of darkness and filters to conceal the fact that the cyberpunkeseque alphaverse is being filmed on a budget. The techniques go back to film noir (here, it’s more film vert).

Overall: 4/6 I wasn’t expecting to like this show, and my wife didn’t want to watch it at all. By the end of the two-hour premiere, we were looking forward to the remaining episodes.

In total, “The Big Bang” receives 31/42

Final Comments

The intial story works well; whether it can survive as a series remains to be seen.

A Charlie Jade trailer may be viewed here.

The Timeshredder’s reviews can be found here.