Friday, March 27, 2015

TV Review: Parallels

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Bottom Line: This gives us Sliders done right as it goes heavier on the mystery and sci fi and delivers some interesting characters.

Parallels is an original telefilm written and directed by Christopher Leone--who previously created the mini-series The Lost Room for Syfy--and it is considered the launching point for more movies or perhaps an ongoing series. It is currently available for streaming on Netflix, though it is not considered one of their original series. The story begins with a brother and sister coming home when they receive a cryptic message from their estranged father. They follow his instructions and (along with a childhood friend) go to an abandoned building where they believe they will meet up with him. However, a strange power surge occurs in the building and when they emerge from it they find that they are on an alternate Earth which has been devastated by nuclear war. They also meet up with another person who has been inhabiting the building and she explains to them that it travels between alternate timelines and only stays there for thirty six hours. They must then either find some way of controlling the building or riding it out until they can make it back to their own timeline and/or find their father who appears to have a connection to all of this. Parallels is basically Sliders meets Lost with an intriguing stand-in for Doctor Who’s TARDIS thrown in for good measure.  And the pilot movie definitely drew me in to the story and left me wanting more. Personally, I was never a big fan of Sliders, feeling that one had a good premise though it suffered from poor execution (which was partially the fault of network tinkering from what I understand). But Parallels, at least in the initial installment, incorporates some of the best aspects of Sliders while bringing along many of the Lost-style mysteries that we expect from a sci fi series these days (but without feeling too derivative). And the alternate Earths offer plenty of story opportunities, though it seems like that thirty six hour deadline could prove somewhat of an impediment to story development. On the other hand, it could also be a device that keeps the show from descending into stock genre stories, something that happened all too often with Sliders. The characters in Parallels are also interesting because they refreshingly deviate from the archetypes you expect with this type of show. There’s no history expert or know-it-all scientist or even the typical leader-type as instead we get three young people (though not annoying, pretty-faced teens) along for a WTF ride. At this point, I see a ton of potential for the series and characters to grow if it continues in the same direction as the pilot.

Mr. Leone talked about Parallels in a recent AMA he did on Reddit offering the following comments:

PARALLELS is kind of unusual. I made it with Fox Digital Studios, which isn't a TV studio -- they make content for the web. But now that these worlds have converged, especially on Netflix, the digital realm is now this kind of wild west for creating new stuff. We always knew PARALLELS was the beginning of something, we knew we were going to do more, but we weren't sure what form it would take, whether it would be another ~90 minute installment, or a TV series, or what. So we're figuring that out right now, which is pretty damn exciting.

He also commented that the the response to it thus far has been "phenomenal" and on his twitter account he has stated that

We are hellbent on making more PARALLELS! We're figuring out the next steps now but I should have news to share very soon.

I have personally pointed several friends to the movie and I highly recommend that all sci fi fans give it a look.  It appears to be exclusive to Netflix for now, though maybe at some point that will get expanded so that more people can see it.  I could see where a Kickstarter campaign could help raise the funds for a second movie, or perhaps a fan drive could convince Netflix (or Amazon. Hulu, etc,) to pick it up as part of their original offerings.  But however it happens, we definitely need more installments from Parallels.

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