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Review (TV) - Origin

A review of the YouTube Originals series Origin

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Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:02 pm




It’s a scifi horror series by YouTube Originals which takes place on a passenger transport bound for a new colony on a system 5 light years from Earth, when something goes wrong.
The cast is well chosen and in terms of acting everyone was spot on. Characters made sense, back stories were informative and in some cases brutal, and I never paused to ask myself why any of them were there. That’s by far the best part of this series.

As for a scifi show, this is a nice fist try. For a studio that’s never done scifi before this is one hell of a go. Unfortunately, this is not YouTube Originals first try at scifi, it’s their third and I think I figured out why it’s not great. What do Dead Space, BioShock, Outlast, F.E.A.R. and Five Nights at Freddy’s all have in common? They all have horror elements, they all have jump scares, and they’re all top rated Let’s Plays on YouTube. To a marketing division, this means that they’re going to do well with audiences. That seems like a reasonable explanation for why the show is like it is.

The show doesn’t just like jump scares, it crams them in. In fact, I’m pretty sure the writer/creator Mika Watkins got half way through shooting the series and was so fed up with the jump scares that she started throwing them around to make fun of the whole thing. Jump scares are not frightening, especially not in scifi. They’re lazy, off putting and annoying. You want scifi horror? You need something menacing and dreadful, not something that pops up and makes everyone scream and flip out over and over and over.

The show also sacrifices sensible ship design for the horror genre. I know, who cares about technical specs in a scifi horror setting, I get it. But it’s important because I can’t be immersed in a story and truly be scared by unfolding events if I’m asking myself “Who designs a space ship with an enormous central connector without any airlocks or seals in the event of a hull breach?” An asteroid pokes a tiny hole in the wall and the ship loses half its oxygen and there’s no way to travel around to get to other systems. Also the ship has an array of spinning rings which one would imagine are for spin gravity, right? No. The rings spin, but it’s like you’re standing on a turning record, the spinning has nothing to do with gravity, they just make the ship look cool. Also also, instead of being a modular design where each ring operates autonomously in the event of one of them being damaged, they all apparently rely on one another, so if something goes wrong on one then all of them will start to fail and the whole ship will explode or something. This show obviously had a budget but I don’t believe that any of it was spent on a science adviser which is an issue to me, this being a scifi show and all.

So it’s a jump scare-based horror show in a scifi setting without too much thought in the scifi direction; where did all the effort go? Visuals for one, they’re very well done, but mostly to the characters. The character stories are hands down the best part of the show.

Last, there’s a review up on IMDB where the writer states they can’t believe people rated this below a 9. I can. People have also written that it’s an old story being told in a different way and there’s nothing terribly original about it; I agree. People have also refuted that by stating that anyone who thinks this is an old story hasn’t seen the last episode where some exciting stuff happens; for anyone who has read Japanese literature (manga is literature, fight me) or seen Japanese cinema, it is a common device to tell one story throughout most of the work, and then reveal a different story that has been happening the whole time without the reader/viewer knowing. That’s more or less what’s happening here.

Tl;dr This is a show about an interesting and diverse group of characters in a marketing-analytics driven scifi setting that’s heavy on the fiction, not so much the science.

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