Television has a bit of a habit of putting up a fence, isolating its characters and forcing us to endure the incredulous.
Yes, Between is Netflix’s very own Under the Dome. Welcome to Pretty Lake, where everybody over the age of 21 is knocked off by a mysterious virus leaving a bunch of Facebook-lovin’ kids to cling to their own indifference. Not much to Like here.
As if ironically left to interact in the ‘real’ world, the remaining survivors are forced to fend for themselves when they are ringed by a fence set up by the government. Nobody knows what’s causing the virus that’s killing off all the olds, but at least this way it will limit the fallout.
One such survivor is Wiley Day (Jennette McCurdy), a pregnant teen and daughter of the local Reverend. She’s a born cynic, sneering at most of those around her. It isn’t long before her father drops dead, bleeding from the mouth. Soon other adults begin to drop, in seemingly-unrelated families: the grandpa farmer, the rich mom on the porch, and one mother after barely hearing her son warn, “Mom, something is wrong, we have to get out of here. People are dying, the government isn’t telling anyone.”
After dialogue like that, who can blame her?
Amongst her famous last words, “They said the same thing about SARs.” Sadly, I think the show was being serious, given there’s not much humour anywhere else to be found.
Feigning epidemic proportions, a toll count rises on screen, while panicked SMS messages are super-imposed over wide-shots of the town. Something sure is killing off the Gen X and Baby Boomers -could it be the script writers? Advertisers?
“We are doing everything we can to figure this thing out,” one government official advises via video, clearly speaking in a language Gen Y can understand. Thankfully they have also “Ruled it out as contagious.” It’s not apparent how they know this, and there’s a pile of corpses that would probably debate the point.
“I’ve been talking to some high level officials on the outside,” advises one bloke, making sure his sweeping generalisations include everybody.
The cast also features a local hero Pat (Jim Watson) who locks horns with a rich jock (Justin Kelly), a gentle giant Gord (Ryan Allen), a smart geek Adam (Jesse Carere) and a local prison inmate Mark (Jack Murray).
Pleasingly there is also a young intellectually disabled girl, Amanda (Krystal Nausbaum) which is refreshing compared to her very cliched pals. The other positive take-out is the look of the show is well-packaged as a low budget, Canadian drama.
Juggling action, teenage angst and disaster genres does not come easy to this script by Michael McGowan. That’s despite this series being directed by 24‘s Jon Cassar. The dialogue lacks sub-text and the characters are almost universally unlikeable, even when they’re not youthfully mumbling.
By episode 2 I was ready to throw away the keys to the Pretty Lake quarantine and leave them to their own squalor.
Between, unlike most Netflix series, does not deliver in the usual binge supply and is screening at one episode per week. Try to contain yourself.
Between is now available on Netflix.