Across the Universe
Through the Valley of Shadows
A Mind of its Own
I Think We’re Alone Now
Living The Dream
How the Light Gets Lost
Heart and Soul
I love sci-fi. From Stargate SG-1 through to The Expanse and Star Trek, the exploits of a crew in the deep void of space has always fascinated me. With so many options out there in this field, any newcomer to the genre has a tough mountain to climb. A lot of this can be saved with a likable, charismatic group of characters and an original premise. Unfortunately, Netflix’s latest sci-fi series Another Life is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to this formula. Although the cast do eventually grow on you, the abundance of swearing, cheesy zoomed shots and superficial melodrama make it difficult to really warm to the crew. However, the story does get better as the show goes along, ending on one heck of a cliffhanger at the end but whether you’ll make it that far remains to be seen.
Set in the far reaches of the future, Another Life begins with a brief prologue that sees a strange alien artifact land on Earth and cause unrest among the masses. From here, we’re introduced to loving Mother Niko who says goodbye to her family and captains the Salvare, a ship heading for the artifact’s origin planet to make contact and find out what they want. Unfortunately things don’t go to plan and after realizing they’re flying off course, Niko is woken up along with a handful of other emotionally charged crew members to try and get them back on track.
From here, the rest of the series swings back and forth between stand-alone episodes and others that further the main narrative. There’s clear influences from Star Trek, Arrival, Nightflyers and all manner of different sci-fi shows here, all stitched together to create something that, whilst having some solid and enjoyable moments, misses its mark more often than not. Don’t get me wrong, seeing the crew embark on expeditions to strange planets is exciting, as are the various developments with the artifact on Earth, but the characters take longer than they should to warm to and a lot of this is thanks to the dialogue which really isn’t very good at all.
With tensions high during the opening few episodes, Another Life makes it incredibly difficult to empathise with anyone either. As tempers flare up almost immediately, with the first episode depicting a risky mutiny that backfires, you can’t help but wonder if this really is the best crew Earth could conjure up to save them. To be fair, this does improve as the series goes on, replaced by romantic subplots and plenty of inner turmoil for Niko to battle, but it all feels superficially created rather than an organic threat.
The abundance of swearing in the dialogue contributes toward the overly melodramatic tone too, with various zoomed and angled shots making Another Life feel more dated than it perhaps should. Some of the stand-alone narratives pluck ideas from other sources too, including a Groundhog Day-inspired episode and the artifact narrative feeling very similar to Arrival until late on when all is made clear.
Another Life is not an overly bad sci-fi series but it’s not a particularly good one either. It’s a very average series that does improve as it goes along but certainly requires some patience to see through those early hiccups. However, with an abundance of swearing, romantic melodrama and a whole host of cliches along the way, Another Life falls into the same pitfalls many other shows in this genre have succumbed to as well. The show does leave things wide open for a second season with a dramatic and pretty shocking cliffhanger which is worth considering given how the audience may react to this one. With so many other options in this genre, Another Life is a difficult one to recommend.