Since a few days Netflix has released a new show – the Sci-Fi drama Another Life. The show stars Katee Sackhoff as captain Niko Breckinridge of the interstellar ship The Salvare. Set about a 100 years into the future her crew if tasked with travelling to the origin of an alien artifact that has recently landed on earth.
Another Life is a not a difficult show to describe. It is a show that wants to be both Arrival and Star Trek at once. It tries to pack in a lot in just 10 episode, on a low budget. Arguably it tries to do too much. It feels like the show was specifically designed by an algorithm to try to appeal to as large an audience as possible.
The good and the bad of Another Life
The show is all over the map. When the lead character on Earth Erik Wallace (Niko’s husband) tries to communicate with the alien crystalline artifact it feels underwhelming. Scenes in which science should explain how he and his team decode the alien transmission come off as melodramatic and campy. The similarities to The Arrival are in fact so uncanny I fear the producers might get sued.
On board The Salvare things are usually better. However, its desire to be like Star Trek makes it feel as if the producers were ticking boxes on a extremely long checklist. Each episode has at least several familiar Sci-fi tropes. Crewmembers in tight underwear a la Enterprise (T’Pol, Tucker and Sato)? Check! Alien take-over that ends up being just a hallucination? Check! Crewmembers infected by an alien virus? Check! and so on.
Toned Katee Sackhoff
A lot of it is bad, some of it is quite good. First off Katee Sackhoff is toned like crazy – just like T’Pol from enterprise and the alien invasion and virus allow for a significant amount of gore. In fact, the understated horror elements are the show’s best features.
Sadly, the familiar plot points also drag the show down. Crew members make a lot of bad decisions, certainly in the first bunch of episodes and their interpersonal relationship feel forced. Yet the series also has a high attrition rate. As most of the ships compliment are in deep sleep there is pool of replacements. In fact, in one episode the crew that is awake decide the best way to kill the virus and sterilize the ship is to flush themselves out of the airlock.
At the time I thought it would be best if they had actually seen that through. You see there is also plenty that is bad about Another Life. The low budget eats into some of the special effects, the forced plots, melodramatic character development and overly present conspiracies do cause a drain on the viewer’s attention span. Speaking of low-budget, it feels as though most of the money went into the season finale which has a notable increase in production quality.
I am having a hard time forming a judgment on Another Life. There is a lot of content out there you can view. If you haven’t seen the third season of Stranger Things I suggest you go and watch that instead of Another Life. If you have and if you can tolerate this show’s many flaws than Another Life might just draw you in for a few days. I will want to watch season 2, and only because some of the characters are interesting. My personal thumbs up goes to Katee Sackhoff – she manages to convince well as captain of the Salvare.