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Charlie Jade

November 28, 2012

Having finished the series Charlie Jade I felt a review might be in order.  The series was a co-production between Canada and South Africa and is very unlike anything other genre tv series I can think of.  The series takes place in three different universes, the gateway between which is created by a mega-corporation called Vexcor.  Vexcor operates out of what they have labeled the Alphaverse which is where Charlie Jade calls home.  Alphaverse is a universe where the corporations are defacto governments to the point of maintaining their own corporate militaries.  This world’s resources have been hideously exploited compared to ours and the technology, which is well in advance of our own, while making life more convenient is also used to keep an overly watchful eye on its citizens.  Due to events in the pilot Charlie ends up in our universe which is referred to as the Betaverse.  A third universe called the Gammaverse is much more ecologically sound than either of the other two and, as a result, is of great interest to Alphaverse because of its great resource wealth.  While a show which regularly shifts its storyline between three universes might seem hard to follow, it really isn’t.  The reason for this is one of the brilliant production elements of the series.  There is a color filtering technique used for scenes shot in the various universes that make it obvious which universe you are in at any given moment.  They do also label the universe you are going into during scene jumps but, I personally started to find these largely unnecessary after awhile.  The series follows Charlie Jade, who is a private detective in Alphaverse, to his sudden shift to our universe.  He ends up getting some help from a conspiracy theorist named Karl Lubinsky.  Karl is an interesting character who ends up being a good partner to Charlie. There are some “fish out water” elements to Charlie’s story but, they remain in the background for the most part as he is continuing an investigation on someone investigation of that resulted in his transfer to our world.  That someone is a character named 01 Boxer.  01 being pronounced like Owen.  01 is actually as interesting a character as Charlie and is a main character in the series in his own right.  I’m deliberately being vague about the show because I really think it is worth while checking it out on your own.  The series creator Robert Worthheimer is a big fan of the movie Blade Runner and from the look of Charlie Jade (specifically the Alphaverse) this is pretty apparent.  The show’s themes and focus, however, are uniquely there own.  One thing I really liked about the show was the finale.  The series consists of twenty episodes and after watching episode 19, I was really wondering what the last show would be given that 19 felt like a season finale.  It turns out that I forgot a specific trait of one of the main characters in the show (and that to be honest I really should have seen coming) that caused events to be not quite wrapped up.  The finale is not only interesting, but is shot in a way that makes it one of the strongest season finales I have ever seen and, it is perfectly in lock-step with the events of the episode.  There is also a thirty second bit at the end that is clearly a lead-in for a second series that unfortunately never materialized.

Charlie Jade is a pretty amazing show and it is currently available to US residents via Netflix streaming.  I hope people decide to check it out.  If you do, there is a podcast afterwards that you can listen to that features a lengthy discussion with Robert Worthheimer about not only the production of the series but, where he saw it going for the second season that didn’t happen.  It is available at: http://www.charliejade.net/.  I will warn prospective viewers that one of my few complaints about the series is that it does slow up around episodes 6 thru 8 (which Mr. Worthheimer does own up to in the podcast).  I call them the D episodes because all of the titles happen to start with that letter not because that’s the grade they deserve.  They still are genre heavy episodes (one deals with organ-leggers) but, they are much more episodic as opposed to advancing the overall story arc.  Regardless of this, the show is most definitely worth a look as I can promise you that you will not see another tv series, genre or otherwise, that is quite like Charlie Jade.

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