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The Dark Frontiers Of Modern Science
on 28 November 2005
ReGenesis is a 13-part series from Canada that deals with the looming issues raised by the new frontiers of scientific advancements. NORBAC is a coalition of the best scientists from Mexico, the United States and Canada, working in Toronto, and charged with investigating various events and issues that have an unqualified scientific edge to them – in this first series they investigate the dark side of science, the side where humans appear to be rushing in before the side effects and outcomes can be known. Episodes deal with new viruses, cloning, diseases and bio-terrorism, amongst others.
The focus of the series is Dr David Sandstrom, played by Peter Outerbridge (Millennium Season 3), a brilliant scientist and borderline lousy human being. David is a perpetual teenager who happens to have a very complicated and important job and a teenage daughter, Lil, who features heavily in some of the early storylines. David is joined in his lab by Carlos, a Mexican doctor, Bob, a brilliant analytical scientist with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Caroline, the centre’s leader and a woman with a shady (possibly CIA) background and other recurring characters.
The series kicks off in fine style with a fatal outbreak of an Ebola-like virus that is heading to Toronto itself. Everything you need to learn about ReGenesis is in these opening episodes, as it introduces the themes that will run through the series’ main arc (although some storylines are resolved the majority of plot strands are deftly weaved together at the season’s close), the main characters who populate the show, and the distinctive style of the show.
The show is shot like a film, and opens with a doozy of a hook before zipping back 6 months to begin the series proper. Being on a liberal network in Canada (similar to, say, HBO or Showtime) the series obviously had a reasonable budget behind it: it looks very good, and Toronto is presented on screen very well as a vibrant, bustling city. Universal have provided us with a decent widescreen transfer, and of course considering that this season only finished broadcasting early in 05, the picture itself is pretty much clean of dust and noise.
Opening with a gripping first gambit is all well and good, but any series worth following must maintain that level of involvement throughout. Does ReGenesis manage it? For the most part, yes: it has a trio of uninspiring episodes just after the mid-way point where it seems to be treading water as it approaches the big climax, but even these are relatively entertaining and manage to keep your attention.
The episodes also focuses on the personal lives of the characters but, pleasingly, manage to keep it just above soap opera level so that it doesn’t distract from the meat of the series – the science. From it’s superbly unnerving credits sequence onwards (easily one of the most imaginative for a TV show), ReGenesis deals with the scary side of progress – devastating diseases, outbreaks and the ghosts of past mistakes (their own and those before them) hover over the series. One of the most impressive things about ReGenesis is that it isn’t like any other series – whilst it may share similar themes and framing with dramas like 24 and House M.D. it is frequently unlike anything you will have seen on TV, and even takes a turn for the surreal successfully in the penultimate episode. The twists are frequent and also frequently surprising, the characters are genuinely interesting and complicated, and the series progresses to grab you and involve you emotionally as it leads up to a tight and actually tense finale.
So then, is it worth your money? Although as I’ve said it’s a different beast, I’d recommend ReGenesis if you’re a fan of 24 or House, or simply a fan of well-made, edgy and complex drama. If you’ve ever watched The Shield, or Battlestar Galactica, or Millennium then you’d probably enjoy this show – wildly varying examples I’ll agree, but to me those dramas all share a skewed, nervy reaction to the events of recent years that ReGenesis also has.
Extras are limited to a functional 10-min piece of promo fluff that was obviously designed to get people interested in watching it, and if you’ve already watched the series it will add nothing.
Be advised, ReGenesis is rated 15 for frequent very strong language, sexual nudity, drug references and medical horror, and would not be suitable for younger viewers.
Overall, a very fine series and one well worth checking out for fans of modern drama with a desire for something that little bit different.