09 February 2014

[The After] Something Old, Nothing New, Something Strange

Chris Carter enjoyed cult success in the 90's when he created The X-Files. The show ran for 9 seasons, with two movie follow-ups. This was the only TV success he achieved. His other show, Millennium, only lasted two seasons. It also aired sometime in the 90's.

After more than a decade of semi-retirement, Chris Carter returns with The After, an Amazon-original series, which you can watch here if you live in the US. (Otherwise, non-US residents can look for it around the internet.)

The premise to The After is not unique. In fact, it's a rework of so many post-apocalyptic TV shows, movies and video games we've considered as entertainment for the past decade.

Here's what it says in the press release:
Written and directed by Emmy-nominee Chris Carter executive produced by Marc Rosen of Georgeville Television and produced by Gabe Rotter, The After follows eight strangers who are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation. Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Adrian Pasdar, and Louise Monot star in the pilot.

I'm conflicted about this series.

On one hand, I am a little disappointed with the pilot. I wanted more from this because it's Chris Carter! Was his creative flow stuck in the 90's? The After didn't show anything different from something I've already seen from him, or the genre in general.

In a nutshell, the show
a) is another sci-fi among a hundred other sci-fi series
b) brings together characters with different stories, but with one thing in common. In The After, it's their birthdays that characters have in common.
c) tells their stories with conventional and rehashed ideas, mixed with cliches and tropes.

On the other hand, this is just the pilot episode, after all. Loopholes and contrived plot development aside, it should be given time to make sense. However --- and this is where I'm conflicted ---I did like some of its hokiness and familiarity because it made it easier to relate to the characters and to what's going on. In some scenes, I already got the feeling when the characters are gonna get screwed, because I've seen it all before. In this instance, I liked that I was aware of what's about to get down.

So, was the show bad because it's nothing different? Or was it good because it's predictability falls under a template we've been so used to, it would be impossible not to enjoy it?

Besides, when you see something like this?

It's hard not to be intrigued. Coz, you just have to know --- "What the heck is going on here?" --- and keep watching. On top of that, something really strange also appears in the final scene of the pilot that warrants more episodes for the answers. Amazon members, by the way, will have to vote on whether or not the show continues to a full season.

And then there's this guy...

Jamie Kennedy 10 years ago

Jamie Kennedy today
While I'm on the subject of asking, "What's happening here???"… I just have to ask: WHAT HAPPENED HERE? I don't remember the last time I've watched Jamie Kennedy on TV, but I didn't recognize him until I read the credits at the end of The After. He looks strangely different!

Have you seen the pilot of The After
Will you be looking out for the second and succeeding episodes?