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[personal profile] sprocket
There's now proof that if you say "multiverse" I really will watch absolutely anything.

Never did I think I would say this, but this is a show that would benefit from some characters dropping acid and believing they can perceive the "historicity" of objects or maybe finding windows to alternate universes. It's San Francisco in the (alternate) '60s, it would not be that much of a leap. Acid would also help explain why people are acting with the logic of a PKD story. Any queasy uncertainty about whether they can or if they've jumped the shark would be gravy.

The grimdark premise is not my thing (most PKD is not my thing). The worldbuilding is intense, but the other elements of the story don't live up to the props department. The plotting is slow, and loopy, which would work if the actors would really inhabit the characters. The black hat protagonists - San Francisco Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente) and New York Obergruppenf├╝hrer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) - do a pretty good job of this. They start out ominous in their signposted villany and develop complexity. But protagonists Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos), Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank), and Frank Frink (Rupert Evans) (and PKD, I will never forgive you that name) are gray people who need stronger acting to breathe life, interest, and motive into their struggles. And that... doesn't happen. There are beats where there should be actions, or reactions, and it falls flat. Joe's arc is particularly bad that way: determined to keep Joe a cipher, the writing obscures his history and motives, and the actor doesn't find an acting technique that overcomes the blank white page. Frank gets a nail-biting trainwreck of a radicalization arc, which the actor sometimes pulls off. I have to interpret the in-universe choices as a setup by someone because otherwise, Kido and the rest of the Kempeitai are idiots. Juliana... well, "I don't know what I'm doing so I'll change my plan every five minutes" is an arc, I guess? Alexa Davalos is the best of a weak bunch, but then, she gets a little more writing to chew on.

And oh, my gosh, the love triangle is so tedious. Because Joe = boring and also already seeing someone. Bah.

And... I... kind... of... want a Frink-and-Childan noir-ish codependent snippy backbiting forger-and-fence relationship. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in San Francisco.

Frank: You said you sold it for 100,000.
Robert: I did. I did! You got your share.
Frank: *Holds up newspaper* Says in the paper they donated the piece to a museum. Valuation was one hundred *twenty* thousand.
Robert: ...Frank. I... you don't know the value of your work.
Frank: I know you owe me another 12,000 yen.

At some point it comes out that Frank is churning out fakes to fund the resistance, as part of the grand gesture to the Japanese occupation that killed his sister and her kids. Robert's horror at working with an accused Jew (well, Robert would say something less polite). Robert may or may not be slammed against a wall by now. Ahem. Do I trust Frank to do the smart thing, or the self-destructive thing? Ah ha ha did you watch S1.

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