Mental global link- up
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.