Friday, February 9, 2018

Pilot Review: Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon (Netflix)
Premiered February 2

Now here we have a noteworthy show. At first, I didn’t know who everyone was and why there was all this seemingly pointless shooting, and while I’d contend that was still the least engaging part of the episode, the rest is all pretty fascinating. The notion that memories can now be stored in stacks that can inserted into sleeves suggests the possibility for a much higher crime rate, and letting prisoners out of jail in new sleeves as part of the legal process should only add to the problem. This feels like a darker version of “Minority Report,” with targeted ads that include holographic prostitutes and strippers who can change their faces at the customer’s request. The effects are very cool in this futuristic universe, considerably more invested that I feel like is usually the case with television series. It’s good to see Joel Kinnaman in another TV role that’s suited for him after “The Killing” and “House of Cards,” and he’s surrounded by a number of familiar faces (who I assume could be replaced at any moment given this show’s plot). James Purefoy is more tolerable here than he was on “The Following,” and his occasional costar Renée Elise Goldsberry, better known as a Tony winner for “Hamilton,” is also here in a memorable role. Dichen Lachman from “Dollhouse” and Kristen Lehman, also from “The Killing,” round out this impressive cast. I liked this show more for its greater ideas than its insistence on scenes like the one with the “full guest amenities” that took out all of Kovacs’ hasslers. It’s intriguing but also a bit messy, and so I may give it another shot.

How will it work as a series? Solving Bancroft’s murder is clearly just the start of what’s planned for this show, as Kovacs has people after him and also quite a rap sheet from his past. My hope is that the subplots of people protesting against sleeves being used for people who should just get to die get more of a focus, creating a compelling universe in which this show is meant to be set.
How long will it last? Some reviews seem to be positive while others take issue with specific aspects of the show. Given that it’s on Netflix, it will be hard to tell how well it’s been received and how much it’s been viewed. I have to imagine that it’s extremely expensive to produce due to the visual effects and sets, so it’s going to have to be a home run with audiences for Netflix to want to bring it back.

Pilot grade: B

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