Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 3/5
Brave New World feels like a well-worn medley of different sci-fi ideas that have been blended and stitched together. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, the show lacks the edge needed to pull itself up from mediocrity. Based on the 1932 novel of the same name, Brave New World is a brave re-imagining of that book which will inevitably disappoint book lovers and form a large divide between those who like and those who loathe this series.
For those unaware, the story takes place in a near-future dystopia known as New London. At first glance, the city looks like a Utopian paradise with three main rules governing everyone – no privacy, no family and no monogamy. This city operates on a basic hierarchical level of command with the Director and Alphas in control while the Epsilon workers and Gamma serve those above them. All of this operates flawlessly thanks to a constant stream of emotion-inhibiting pills known as Soma.
While the majority unquestionably follow these rules, the faint glimmers of a rebellion start to appear. When an upper-Alpha member known as Bernard is called to a crime scene, he immediately starts to question everything around him. Realizing this could upset the balance of power, his superior sends him and Beta worker Lenina to a makeshift theme-park on the outskirts of town for some R&R.
Dubbed The Savage Lands, this post-apocalyptic wasteland plays host to a whole group of people eking out a living but more closely aligned to our idea of how humans should behave. At the heart of this lies John who lives with his depressed alcoholic Mother Linda and repairs what he can to survive.
With a rebellion brewing and the New London group arriving on safari, what follows is a chance encounter between John, Lenina and Bernard resulting in them forming an unlikely alliance and working together. This inevitably brings them back to New London but with the residents of the Savage Lands not accustomed to this same hedonistic world of drug-taking, John’s impulsiveness turns heads. This, alongside a formulaic love triangle, act as the catalyst that set off a series of events that look set to topple the dominoes – and New London’s future prospects.
Despite the cliched nature of the romance, there’s some good work done to capture the inner turmoil and issues these men and women face on a daily basis. This conflict paves way for some lovely juxtapositions throughout the series. There’s quiet glimmers of self-reflection quickly dispelled from the pill-popping. CJACK60 draws a sad face on a window before gritting his teeth and getting back to work. These tiny visual cues help to give some clues over what direction the show is going to go next.
Having said all that though, Brave New World never quite does enough to step outside its comfort zone and deliver something surprising or different. A lot of what we get here is very scripted and obvious, and you’ll likely see a lot of the big plot points coming a mile off. To try and distract you from this simplicity, Brave New World throws in a lot of sex and nudity. While it’s understandable – given the nature of this society – almost every episode features this and it feels like an intentional distraction against the plot.
Despite the final scenes of episode 9, Brave New World certainly takes its time to get to the good stuff. Some of this is partly thanks to the way the show has been produced and edited together. Before it was snapped up by Peacock (with streaming rights given to Sky in the UK), this series was originally intended to be shown weekly. The result of this shows through all the usual hooks you’d expect from broadcast TV, complete with the obvious signs of commercial breaks being squeezed between scenes that linger on a black screen a couple of seconds too long.
Having said that though, Brave New World is an enjoyable enough sci-fi series that leaves the door wide open for a second season. Given the vast amount of quality and richness across the TV spectrum as of late, whether “enjoyable enough” will stand the test of time remains to be seen. The show certainly has some perks and there’s a couple of lovely shot scenes to accompany the slow-burn story that makes the ride worth taking.
It’s not perfect though and at times you’ll question whether you’ve taken the same pills the characters have. When that emotionally-inhibiting effect wears off however, Brave New World opens up to deliver a pretty good slice of sci-fi.
Verdict - 6.5/10