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YouTube Premium's Latest is the Sci-Fi 'Origin'
November 14, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 

Say you’ve screwed everything up, like seriously screwed everything up. Then someone tells you there’s a way you can erase every trace of it and start over. It would be tempting, no?

It’s also tempting as a TV series premise, and creator/writer Mika Watkins has parlayed it into a 10-part sci-fi series called Origin, which becomes available Wednesday on the streaming service YouTube Premium.

In Origin, it turns out the getaway offer comes with a small catch.

The place where you’d be starting over is a planet five light years from Earth. So you have to get there, which is where the sci-fi comes in. Everyone on the spaceship traveling to this distant planet is supposed to be put in something like suspended animation, where you go to sleep and wake up when the trip is over, and you’re there. Sort of like what they tell you when you’re undergoing brain surgery.

But a journey of five light years with everyone sound asleep wouldn’t make for much of a TV show, so naturally, something goes wrong, and our passengers find themselves starting to wake up at some undefined point along the way.

They find others, none of whom they know. They can’t find any crew personnel to tell them what’s going on. The spaceship is really big, cold and metallic, with unexplained buttons and doors and stuff. It’s all rather confusing.

For viewers, the cast also requires some sorting out, and to be honest it takes a while. That’s partly because the cast is large and partly because there are no clear leads. In the first episode, we meet more than a dozen travelers and have no idea which of them will become prominent.

Or, not to blurt out any spoilers, which ones will survive that first episode. This spaceship is a mean machine.

That said, there seems to be some focus on Lana (Natalia Tena, top), who has a strong will, Logan (Tom Felton, top and below), who seems exceptionally nervous about the situation, and Shun (Sen Mitsuji), who has a large tattoo and an equally large backstory.

It seems likely we will eventually learn why each of these characters is on this ship, that is, what they did in their Earth life that they felt they needed to erase and escape.

Shun’s backstory is the first to roll out, and it’s not uplifting. He did mostly bad things, which apparently didn’t bother him until it affected his brother Kenzaki (Cole Horibe).

Like others on the ship, Shun seems to have some exceptional skills. Again like others, the question will be whether he can use them to benefit anyone besides himself. We see no indication that most people who would sign up for a voyage of this nature have a history of playing well with others, except that once they wake up in this bizarre situation, they may not have much choice if they’re going to survive.

While the mission itself doubtless has a backstory worth knowing, we do quickly learn it was arranged by Siren, a corporation that found this planet and hopes to colonize it as the alternative for those who don’t feel they’re a fit with Earth.

Okay, and maybe make a little money in the process – although we see Shun meeting with Xavia Grey (Tara Fitzgerald), the point person for Siren, and surprise, surprise, she never mentions corporate profits, just opportunities for the travelers. 

Viewers who suspect elements of Origin will echo Lost and a dozen other sci-fi expedition shows suspect correctly. Heck, the whole concept isn’t that much different from the early days of real-life Australia, where the British sent bad actors so they could start over and stop bothering the Brits.  

Origin is still a good-looking, energetic trip back to a familiar genre. It’s got humor and scores points for introducing characters whose backstories seem worth sticking around to see and hear.

Any show that names its mission C-Ya (or maybe SeeYa) (or something) clearly wants to have some fun.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Angela
C-Ya? Chuckle. Maybe it's time to try YouTube Red's free trial offer!
Nov 15, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
 
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