Friday, June 12, 2015

"Sense8" - A Review

There are times in life when a work of art from a piece of music, a film, episodic television, novel or on the canvas can make such an impact on a person that it literally alters their thinking making that person reevaluate certain preconceived notions, or even set their mind on a completely different path. These times are so rare that in the lifetime of an individual they can usually be counted on one hand.

Until recently there were three such times in my own personal life in which something I read and viewed changed my way of thinking and life’s course. The first occurred when I was still quite young, eight or nine years old. It was an episode of a Playhouse 90 special in the 1950’s. This weekly program was an anthology series on CBS with a new episode each week presenting entertainment and thought provoking stories using famous actors like Charlton Heston or Kim Hunter. On this one particular episode it dealt with racism in a New York ghetto in which a young Puerto Rican boy of about 12 or so was accused of rape and murder, a crime he never committed but was hanged in a back alley by a vengeful, racist crowd who were his own neighbors. This was my first awakening to the shame and destructive hatred racism presents and forever altered my thinking so that it would never play a negative role in my own life.

The second life altering experience happened at age 14 while reading a copy of “All Quiet on the Western Front” in my high school library. The stark realism that book painted of war allowed me to never see the glory in the gory bloodbath of battle with human beings pinned against each other over such trivial matters.

The third and, until most recently, last event to change my life was watching Stanley Kubrick’s feature cinematic adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel ”2001: A Space Odyssey.” My view of the universe and the unlimited possibilities for life beyond the confines of this small blue planet took on an expanded panoramic design as a result of seeing that movie in 1968.

It’s been a long trip from 1968 until now (2015) and I haven't had anything near the metamorphose that these three artistic events made in my existence. There have been many that came close. Many that held out the promise. However, nothing so cultivating.

That is until now.

I just finished watching J. Michael Straczynski’ and The Wachowskis' Netflix series “Sense8.” I didn't binge watch this one like I do with so many other Netflix, Hulu or Amazon offerings. After viewing the first episode I was immediately aware of the jewel this show would be and instinctively knew that this piece of art was something that would need to be absorbed slowly, deliberately, delicately and with purpose. Straczynski has always been one of my favorite writers but what he has created with “Sense8” is more than good or even great, it is quite literally a character-driven masterpiece into the human psyche.

His sense of what makes for interesting television and movie making has never been lost on him as “Babylon 5,” “Changeling” and “Jeremiah” have proven. And, as good as those may have been they are like the work of a third grader compared to the genius found in “Sense8.”

These first 12-episodes of season one should be held up as a university master class in writing, character development, story building, arching and knowing exactly when and where not to place the action.

“Sense8” from its opening musical theme to its closing credits is one of those rarities that when it is over you are left sitting still staring at the screen with your mind fixated on what your eyes just saw, ears just heard and brain tried to comprehend.

Unlike many other popular shows the discussion around the water cooler the next day won’t be about this or that action or sex scene but will revolve completely about how this character interacted with that one and how the exquisite dialogue between them elevated the thought processes of you, the viewer.

My only complaint about this show is the first season was limited to 12 episodes. I could have watched 12 more and then 12 more. Season two cannot come soon enough.

I give “Sense8” * * * * * out of 5 Stars.

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