ReGenesis: Season One [DVD]
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The future is here. Bioterrorism. Designer babies. Frankenfoods. Suddenly Humanity possesses the ability to play god. But is it progress-or madness? Will cutting-edge science be our salvation? Or our demise?
ReGenesis is a 13-part, dramatic series about NorBAC, an organization formed to investigate questionable advances in biotechnology.
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I had no idea ReGenesis existed and picked the DVD up on a whim because it was a.) cheap and b.) Canadian. (Oh and thanks to positive reviews here on Amazon) Canadians have produced at least two of my favourite TV shows, Due South and Slings and Arrows, so I had high hopes of mature, intelligent writing with strong characters and grounded storylines... and that's what we have here.
NORBAC is an alliance of Canada, Mexico and the US, a thinktank of scientists dealing with as the box of the DVD puts it Genetic Crime. So engineered viruses and cloning are some of the issues dealt with in the first series.
This could all be a bit dry, or as painfully earnest as, say, 24 (a show that clearly thinks it's more intelligent than it actually is), but the scientists are human beings not saints and the lead character particularly has some major flaws, beginning with his relationship with his daughter. However, it is often through this relationship that the issues at play are explained for those of us who aren't entirely up to speed with recombinant DNA and camelpox. There is also a sense of wry humour and all of the storylines affect people in a personal way, whether it is the victims of these crimes or members of the NORBAC team.
This is one of those shows that is likely to be sidelined as genre TV, even though what happens is always in the realm of what is possible today. It deserves a larger audience and if Playback want to put out the 2nd and 3rd series on DVD I'll happily buy them.
There is much else besides, this a detective series with a difference. Its strengths are intriguing medical matters, the questioning of ethics concerning genetic engineering, etc. Can meddling with the natural order of things lead to catastrophe? Indeed, are there already instances when it has done so?
Unfortunately the series also contains weaknesses which greatly irritate - curious camera work, intrusive music, missed opportunities. For example, two episodes end with very sad deaths. Why deny us the chance to reflect on what has just happened? Instead ubiquitous pre-credit spoilers instantly intervene. Infuriating!
Then there is the laboratory head, David Sandstrom - he another of TV's gallery of maverick geniuses with limited people skills. The boxed set blurb declares him "charismatic". Some may have other words for one so full of himself. (It is a long time before he is cut down to size, he devastated to realize his cavalier methods may have unleashed a global calamity.)
All this is a pity, for elsewhere is much to impress. Unexpectedly this includes David's daughter Lilith, she initially another irritant. A subplot traces her relationship with troubled teenager Mike, he created solely to provide bone marrow for an ailing brother. Both Lilith and Mike have been shamefully ill-used. Their developing friendship rings most true and ultimately proves very moving.
Yes, throughout there are strengths and weaknesses, the series with so much more going for it than it ultimately delivers.
Recommended nevertheless for the important, thoughtprovoking issues raised.
For the scientists out there who have laughed themselves silly at other shows as the main characters pause to explain basic concepts to each other, this show will impress you. As a molecular biologist, the thing I love about this series is that the science is not only plausible, but it isn't dumbed down where it doesn't need to be. If something needs explaining to the audience, there's always a non-scientist nearby for that purpose. For example, the lead character often explains the science to his daughter. It means everyone can enjoy the show, weather you're a scientist or not. The writers also take pains not to make it look like the tests the scientists run can be completed in 5 minutes, which I appreciated.
The main character, Dr Sandstrom... is a little strange. I can't for the life of me figure out why women fall into his bed or why he swears so much. The supporting characters, however, are really interesting and will keep you entertained while Dr Sandstrom slowly grows on you later in the series.
For a gritty idea of what is both wonderful and scary about science today, pick up a copy and have a watch. I personally really enjoyed it.
I wouldn't bother with the show after season 2, though. It got really strange and into the land of conspiracies. I think they were running out of ideas.
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Once more the distributors treat the hearing impaired
with complete derision . All for a little extra profit .
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