Monday, June 13, 2016

Pilot Review: Cleverman


Cleverman (Sundance)
Premiered June 1 at 10pm

I wouldn’t have known about this show if not for a careful perusal of TV listings, and I made sure to check it out both because the honeymoon I talk to Australia has given me an enhanced interest in its cinematic culture and because the Sundance Channel has rarely disappointed me. The revered “Rectify” and shorter hits like “The Red Road” and “Babylon” have been well worth watching, and though I’m not quite as wowed by this show, I do think it has plenty of intrigue to offer. It reminds me quite a bit of sister network AMC’s “Humans,” another international collaboration which dealt with people who weren’t exactly human and how a modern society didn’t treat them nicely at all. This show is all about addressing the political, with talking heads explaining that they’re not violating human rights since the Hairypeople aren’t humans. It’s so interesting that this is connected to Aboriginal mythology, which does make it a fantastic companion piece to the similarly spooky “The Red Road,” which existed in a far less science fiction-assisted universe. The notion of one man who had previously turned in Hairypeople he had deceived into thinking that he was helping discovering that he is in fact one of the Hairypeople is familiar but cool, and it makes the idea of watching this show worthwhile. The main recognizable face is Iain Glen from “Game of Thrones” as the producer who isn’t going to let something like an embargo prevent him from getting to the truth. Six episodes isn’t a huge commitment, especially in summer, so I feel like I want to give this show another go and see how enthralling it proves.

How will it work as a series? This show is actually pretty brutal, sparing no horrors in its showcasing of how the Australian government treats those it perceives to be subhumans, branding them and torturing them as they see fit. I think it can certainly fill six episodes, and things are sure to get increasingly intense as the Hairypeople become more sympathetic and start revolting even more against their oppressors.
How long will it last? That’s the good news – this show was already renewed for a second season, immediately after it premiered in the United States almost two weeks ago. Airing concurrently here and in Australia gives it two audiences from which to benefit, and positive reviews all around are going to give this show a promising and successful future.

Pilot grade: B