Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sense8 TV Season 1 Review: Another Home Run for Netflix


Sense8 is excellent. For an extremely complex show’s first season it doesn’t get any simpler than just saying it’s excellent. The Wachowski’s created wonderful characters and the actors brought them to life. As far as casting and directing there are no misses. Each of the main characters are spectacular and I enjoyed every one. They are complex each with failings and strengths, but together they can become unstoppable. The story was intriguing, and I binged the first season in just three days. It helped being on vacation, but I’m not sure I could have resisted tearing through the series during a normal week. I’m going to keep this review spoiler free, because even if just 50 people read this blog post, I want all 50 to watch the show. I want another season, and the more people who watch, the greater a chance for the second season happeningJ. Selfish, you bet your ass.
This is my one stipulation to Sense8 excellence. Get through the first 3 episodes. They are a tad slow. Still intriguing and a good introduction to the world our characters live in, but the pace could have been a bit faster. Once you hit episode six though, buckle your seat belt. I watched the last six episodes in close to one sitting. You know, fatherly duties did come into play a bit during the day. This is one you don’t want to watch with the kiddos. It has some extremely explicit sex scenes. Enough that the show may be classified NC-17 if it were released in theater. They don’t detract from the show, are tastefully done and true to life, and add to the overall story. 
Sense8 follows the lives of our eight main characters. They suddenly have the ability to interact with each other regardless of where they are in the world. They can experience what each other is doing and communicate with each other. They can even take over the other person’s body, giving all eight people their combined experiences. It’s a great concept, and it makes each person in a sense a superhero. Each character brings something unique to the bond. I enjoyed each and every one, the only one I didn’t relate to at first was Lito, played by Miguel Angel Silvestre. He had the biggest story growth of the season, and by the end I liked where they left him. It didn’t seem like he would add much to the overall connection of the others. In fact he probably had the least interaction with any of the other characters.  He, however, proved his worth to the main story, and was integral in the last episode.
Sun Bak, played by Doona Bae, was probably my favorite character. It’s a tossup between her or Capheus, played by Aml Ameen. Sun is a Korean women working for her father’s business. She has a tremendous amount of pent up rage, which she takes out by fighting in what seems to be unsanctioned UFC type fights. She is a very downtrodden character. I wouldn’t say depressed, but just unhappy the hand she has been dealt in life. She’s extremely tough, and it’s her inner strength that I was drawn to.  Yeah I know, how do you see inner strength? It just there ok, watch the dang show.  Capheus is the polar opposite of Sun. He is upbeat and always looking for the positives in life. It is his childlike exuberance and acceptance of his new found abilities that helps cement the believability of everything that happens. I loved the scene where he joins Riley on an airplane and is entranced. He is just ecstatic to have the experience. The same when he comes along to see fireworks with Will. Each time he visits another character or they visit him his joy is infectious. His situation may be the direst of any, but he is able to find positivity in all aspects of life.
I really liked the other characters, but I won’t go into an in-depth analysis of each. (Many, ok the few, who are reading shout for joy).  Regardless if you are a science fiction fan, you can get behind the character drama. Nomi Marks, played by Jamie Clayton, is a great example. Struggling to be accepted by her family as a transgender women. Every character has their flaws and warts that they have to overcome. There was decent growth for each character, some more than others, but each fought through some issue or demon.
Then there is the science fiction element. People are hunting humans with the Sense8 abilities. Once they are found they are lobotomized. The main bad is played by Terrence Mann, who has what every great villain has, a British accent. We don’t see a ton of him, but from what we do he seems uber-dangerous.  I worry he may be too powerful. I’m not sure where they will take the show if we get a second season (PLEASE LET THERE BE A SECOND SEASON). He may become the main focus with the Sense8 on the run from him. This would still make for a good season, but they may have to curtail the personal drama many of the characters dealt with this season.
The action is top notch. There isn’t a ton of action, but when it goes down it is extremely satisfying. A few episodes in particular deliver some spectacular action sequences. It is gritty and intense. Way more gritty than what I have seen previously from the Wachowski’s. It works well for the show and there was a few, O YEAH moments. In fact almost every action sequence was an O YEAH moment. Once you get passed the first few episodes the show is really well paced. One other minor complaint is the cliffhanger each episode seemed to end on. It feeds perfectly into the binge mentality, but each cliffhanger is almost brushed off in the next moments of the show. Not every time, but enough that I wanted them to stop using it as a ploy for me to continue watching. I was hooked without needing the cliffhanger.
One last thing, then I’ll stop. The soundtrack of the show is great. I liked the main theme, but also appreciate the pop and rock songs used throughout the season. I thought they greatly added to the weight of the episodes.  Who doesn’t like a little random 4 Non Blondes thrown into a current show?
Watch Sense8, it is a great show for those who aren’t even science fiction fans. The drama of the characters will suck you in, and you will suspend your disbelief of the impossible. I think the show is worth owning, even with it being streamed on Netflix. The drama and characters are up there with House of Cards, completely different show, but I thought the first season was on par with how good House of Cards is. I know Netflix is churning out their original content, and I haven’t watched all of it, but this is a show everyone should get behind now.

My Rating: Must Bing Watch

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