I didn’t finish even one episode of ‘Another Life’ on Netflix

[Also please read this post]*

The new space-adventure on Netflix entitled “Another Life” has had some rough reviews. However, I’d seen some people I trust say some positive things about it, in particular that the character development improves in later episodes and that the plot did draw them in.

I’ve got a high tolerance for nonsense in sci-fi and I think it takes a lot to put me off. I don’t need orbital mechanics to be right, I don’t need technological consistency. I like it when sci-fi does consider the broader consequences of the technology it invents but I can cope when it doesn’t because so, so often it doesn’t.

So what did it in for me? Partly it was the way a whole pile of stuff stacked up in this first episode. I didn’t find the characters initially very engaging (aside from the ship’s computer hologram) but it’s episode 1 and I can cope with that in episode 1. That this sort of near-future setting also has faster-than-light spaceships seemed a bit off but, OK who knows when there will be an amazing scientific breakthrough. Yeah but…that this near-future Earth has space-hibernation and a whole pile of space technology but also is very new at the whole thing…really starts banging on my suspension of disbelief. Then there was the hologram call from the space ship back to Earth in realtime and…no, no it’s OK, if they’ve cracked the whole speed of light thing then maybe they’ve got an ansible thing as well.

It was more the little things. When the central character wakes up from space hibernation and just sort of spills out onto the floor of a corridor, like nobody put any thought into how the crew will wake up. If the series was set in some grungy future of second hand spaceships, I could believe that but this is supposed to be the state of the art spaceship at the peak of human technology. The science is one thing, but seriously somebody would have thought that bit through (or at least the ship’s hologram would be there waiting when the captain woke up).

I say the little things but actually it was specifically chairs.

The point were I turned off and was in a sequence where the ship is trying to slingshot round a star (don’t ask why, just go along with it) and the crew are standing around the controls. The ship is getting quite a bashing (the standard visual clues, a panel falls off, sparks flies, etc) and the crew keep getting lurched around. The ship is in danger of falling to bits, that’s how bad this is supposed to be. The crew are standing around being flung about. The crew are STANDING. Seriously? The show wants me to accept this crew as smart, competent people and nobody is sitting in a chair with a seat belt? OK, I can forgive the seat belts as generally sci-fi spaceships don’t have them but for goodness sake SIT DOWN or at the very least hold on to something. The flailing around made these expert astronauts look like people who wouldn’t be able to cope with a bus trip without bumping into fellow passengers. The amazing future spaceship apparently had less design thought put into it than a standard passenger plane.

Now I’ve even seen still images from later episodes where the central character is sitting in some kind of pilot’s chair with straps but honestly that only makes things worse. I can’t believe in a future where people apparently don’t know when to sit down.

*[The link is just an experiment to see how traffic flows on the blog but it is a fun posts as well 🙂 ]

32 responses to “I didn’t finish even one episode of ‘Another Life’ on Netflix”

    • I think they HAD watched the Expanse but hadn’t really understood what it was doing. There was a definite serious-space-drama vibe but then they just threw spaceship tropes as it without thinking about whether they made sense in context.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The chairs thing makes me think of a hospital job I once had, where there was not a lot of space at the front desk, so when you had to do computer tasks you would often have to sit at these little mini-desks that were along the sides of the hall. Things in general started to go downhill at that job when we got a new manager who didn’t know much about what we did there, but felt that she had to look like she was doing something. One day we came in to find that all the chairs had been removed from the side desks. The boss had misread some regulation and decided that no chairs were allowed to be there (never mind that none of the other wards had a problem with this). So you had to steal chairs from the front desk or else just crouch over the computers all the time.

        I’ve sometimes wondered what became of that manager, but now I know: she went to outer space!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Hahahaha. Awhile back i decided I really should read some Canadian history, so got a biography of Louis Riel. I was quite keen to read it, interesting character — Metis, rebel, mystic, cross-border rabble-rouser, eventually tried and executed etc. But the biography was so annoying with its almost exclusive use of the perfect continuous conditional tense (X “would have been thinking/doing/wanting”) that I literally threw out the book after 50 or so pages. I mean, who throws out books?!!! I hated that prose so much.

    (PS — there is a happy ending. I have since acquired a graphic novel-style Riel biography but haven’t read it yet. I have a little collection of graphic-novel-historical-biographies. I have a Chinese language communist realist style one of Norman Bethune from a Shanghai rummage sale. My favorite is one I bought in Sao Paulo, a novelized version in Portuguese of Che Guevara’s life, where he is stylized as Neo from the Matrix with glasses/trenchcoat and the CIA coming after him are The Agents. It is quite, quite awesome).

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Chester Brown comic about Riel is great. I’m not sure how good it is as history (though Brown did write a lot of footnotes) but it’s one of my favorite historical dramas.


  2. A friend described it as: “Katee Sackhoff is in a Dumpster full of low-rise pants, zero-dimensional characters who all say “FUCK!” way too often, and really shitty science. And the Dumpster is being annihilated by plasma so hot you’d rather be tap dancing on surface of the sun than chatting with Katee.”

    I told him that because Tyler Hoechlin is in it, I’m contractually obligated to watch it, no matter how bad it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Busses don’t have seat belts either. I’m told that’s because in an accident they wouldn’t do any good. Perhaps the space ship designers didn’t expect the ship to ever experience turbulence.

    I read a story this week in which humanity was never able to land on Titan because the atmosphere is all hydrocarbons and would explode if a rocket went there. It’s not a key plot point, but since it’s in the first page or two, it servers notice that the author had zero respect for the readers and did zero research. Sort of like the screen writers for almost any SF TV-show or movie ever. (With maybe five exceptions over all of time.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • In Germany, long distance busses must be equipped with seatbelts after a series of accidents, where seatbelts might have saved lives. City and commuter busses don’t have seatbelts nor are they required to, because otherwise they’d have to ban standing on the bus, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The cold sleep awakening bit did me in. It was so cliche, and it was. BAD cliche.

    My theory is that they figured they had the fans locked up because of Sackhoff, so instead of hiring writers, they hired marmosets, particularly stupid ones, and a drug addict who claimed to be able to translate marmoset who agreed to be paid in product, and then the director ignored the translated marmoset script in favor of a misread of the mashup novel Cosmos: Atlanta Nights (based on the infamous multi author serial novel Cosmos and the deliberately crappy Atlanta Nights). But corporate is really responsible because they insisted on editing that left the best bits on the cutting room floor. Stills produced from the latter will soon be available for auction on Ebay.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I noped out halfway through the first episode, too. It was mostly the characters for me — very little character development meant didn’t care even a tiny bit what happened to them. When all of a sudden the crew mutinied because the captain was taking them on a slightly safer, slightly longer route, I just shut the damn thing off.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Currently, I’m having a look at this one… It’s quite notable for scientific illiteracy (even I notice how bad the science is, and I’m an arts graduate), but the main problem seems to be the characters. I suppose it’s good that it’s avoiding the cliché of the pseudp-military hierarchy on board the ship, but, well, a bit of pseudo-military discipline might do this bunch of shrieking argumentative nitwits a power of good. (Did psychological screening become a lost art by the time they picked this shower?)

    I’m also a bit baffled by the response to the alien artefact on Earth – I’d sort of expect it to be surrounded by armed guards, laboratories, and every sort of sensor or detector this setting has; instead, in six months since its arrival, they have put up a double fence around it and some funky lights. And just about anyone seems to be able to wander up to the fence and run some random experiments of their own. Encouraging initiative, maybe?

    It turns out they do have seats, but – except for the pilot’s seat from which Katee Sackhoff saves the day by flying the ship on manual, naturally – it’s not possible to reach a workstation from any of the seats..

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Still watching… I think it’s into car-crash territory now. My favourite bit of equipment has to be the decontamination system in the airlock, which is a little panel that lights up green and says “Decontamination complete”. That appears to be all it does… they managed to get themselves pretty contaminated, going down to an earthlike planet and swanning around with no helmets on, eating the local fruits and shooting the local monsters. All this despite the incident a couple of episodes back, where the boron-based lifeform got through the decontamination system and made one crewmember’s spinal cord jump out of the back of her neck. (The boron-based virus forms proteins by bonding with iron. Contemplate that one for a while.)


  8. I felt very much the same. But I couldn’t stop watching. It didn’t get better.

    It was almost like the writer was intimately familiar with many really neat high scifi concepts, but also had never read or seen any scifi. It was baffling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The writer bought a whole pile of flat pack sci-fi from Ikea but lost the plans and the Allen key but decide to put it all together anyway creating a giant sci-fi bookcasessidetablebunkbed ensemble

      Liked by 3 people

      • Part of what kept me watching was that it was billed as a “limited series”, but I found out at the end that was just spin for “didn’t get renewed after one season”

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Maybe the space hibernation thing was some sort of homage to the space ending in the great (and unsurpassed IMO) Civilization IV, which was released nearly 14 years ago – see:

    (31 seconds)

    And, yes, it bugged me at the time.

    This is actually even worse than the one you describe, Cam, as the character is seemingly dropped from a height. Oh, and thanks for the heads-up on this series, I don’t think I’ll be bothering…

    Liked by 1 person

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