Sense8

Men­tal global link- up

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - View screen -

Sense8 is made for TV. Well, clearly. It’s a TV show, af­ter all, al­beit one made for Net­flix. But more than that, it’s a se­ries that gives mod­ern TV drama clichés a thor­ough work- out. Montages, mul­ti­ple par­al­lel plots, on­go­ing con­spir­acy, cliffhang­ers, flash­backs… it doesn’t rein­vent them, it wal­lows in them. Es­pe­cially the montages.

The se­ries is the brain­child of the Wa­chowskis and Baby­lon 5 mas­ter­mind J Michael Straczynski. Its core con­cept is cus­tom- built for montages. A group of eight dis­parate, un­con­nected char­ac­ters around the world be­gin to men­tally com­mu­ni­cate with each other, some­what ran­domly and in­ter­mit­tently at first. They ex­pe­ri­ence what the oth­ers are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and can even loan out their tal­ents. Which is handy when, say, the van driver runs foul of some lo­cal thugs; thanks to the Korean kick­boxer, he can be­come his hero – Jean- Claude Van Damme.

The first episode sug­gests the show might go full throt­tle down the con­spir­acy plot route with evil guys tak­ing down the “Sense8”, but this el­e­ment is di­alled down. In­stead it con­cen­trates on the in­di­vid­ual sto­ry­lines: the bride mar­ry­ing the wrong guy out of a sense of duty; the strug­gling driver ac­cept­ing a du­bi­ous job to help his ail­ing mother; the gay film star scared his ca­reer will be ru­ined if he comes out.

As such, it some­times feels like the Wa­chowskis are sim­ply adapt­ing their note books, throw­ing ev­ery idea they’ve ever had on screen. There’s also a sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that the “men­tal link” sim­ply acts as a stealth deus ex machina: a handy de­vice to use to get any char­ac­ter out of a tight spot.

But the show gets away with such short­com­ings be­cause when it kicks into gear it de­liv­ers shame­lessly crowd- pleas­ing set­pieces, from “wow” car chases and ex­plo­sive ac­tion to a cheeky “vir­tual” orgy ses­sion.

It’s also in­cred­i­bly LGBT, with mul­ti­ple gay, les­bian and trans­gen­der char­ac­ters and sex scenes for view­ers of all per­sua­sions. It’s a shame all these char­ac­ters have to deal with some sex­u­al­ity- re­lated is­sue ( why not have a gay char­ac­ter whose story isn’t con­nected to be­ing gay?) but it’s re­fresh­ing to see a show like Sense8 be­ing so all- en­com­pass­ing.

Un­de­ni­ably clunky and con­trived in places – and pos­si­bly a lit­tle over­long – Sense8 nev­er­the­less regularly de­liv­ers enough exquisitely- crafted TV mo­ments to leave you want­ing sea­son two. Dave Golder

Ter­rence Mann just wants to get close to Naveen An­drews.

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