Do you enjoy the mind stretch of a good sci fi story? Here are three excellent science fiction shows currently streaming on Netflix.
Tatiana Maslany, as Sarah.
This Canadian series stars Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, a young British orphan living in the USA who inadvertantly discovers that she is actually one of many clones created by a shadowy organisation. Together with her foster mother and brother, and her fellow clones (soccer mum Alison, and scientist Cosima, among others) she investigates the death of another clone, police officer Beth Childs and tries to find out what her creator wants from them all.
The series contains interesting questions of nature vs. nurture and what cloning means to human identity, in addition to being a slick, smart thriller. It also has a few lighter moments, especially those involving Alison and her bumbling husband Donny.
Tatiana Maslany is awe inspiring in the way she manages to convincingly portray so many different characters with distinct personalities, body language and accents and won a well deserved Emmy award for her work on the show.
There are four seasons of Orphan Black so far, all available on Netflix internationally.
Eight strangers living in different countries discover they share a mysterious connection, and can feel each other's feelings and hear each other speaking. They come to realise that they are in danger and must help each other if they hope to survive.
The show plays with different genres depending on which of the characters it focuses on. For example, Capheus "Van Damme" Onyango, from Nairobi, has a story line like something out of one of the action movies he loves so much. Kala Dandekar, from Mumbai, has a romantic plot involving a love triangle with her fiance and with Wolfgang Bogdanow, Berlin locksmith and criminal. The stories and genres intersect in fascinating ways.
The show is very visually enticing, being shot in so many different locations (Chicago, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Seoul, Reykjavík, Mexico City, Nairobi and Mumbai) and during events such as the Pride parade in San Francisco, the Day of the Dead in Mexico City and the Ganesha Chaturthi in Mumbai. The episode featuring the births of all the different characters is particularly moving since it is so rare to see realistic birth scenes on television.
Sense8 is an American series directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, created for Netflix. There are two seasons and a Christmas special available so for streaming.
Three hundred years from now, humans have expanded into space, with many living in a colony on Mars, and others on space stations in the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars. Julie Mao, daughter of a wealthy industrialist joins a terrorist organisation aimed at protecting the rights of the "Belters" (inhabitants of the asteroid belt), then goes missing. Belter police officer Josephus Miller is assigned to find her, and this leads him to uncover clues to a vast conspiracy that could threaten the whole solar system. Meanwhile, a freighter named the Canterbury is hauling ice when it is attacked by an unknown enemy. The surviving crew embark on a voyage to find out who attacked them and why. On Earth, Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a United Nations executive, is trying prevent war between Earth and Mars. Gradually the connections between these events and people are revealed.
The Expanse is visually stunning, with lots of attention paid to the details of how the ships and stations should look. It draws on Ridley Scott's Bladerunner in the overall design, and in the character of Miller, who dresses and acts like a detective from an old pulp novel, even down to his hat. There is a refreshing amount of diversity in the casting, and all the performances are solid. The plot is quite complicated, but starts to finally come together towards the end of the first season.
The series was created for the Syfy channel and premiered in December 2015. Currently only season 1 is streaming on Netflix in Australia but there is a second season to come.