Television Review: 1899

Would you look at that? I finished another TV show a week or so after finishing a different one. That’s usually a very good sign that I enjoyed it, and I very much did this time, but that comes with some caveats.

The first season of 1899 is on Netflix. It’s follows a group of people on an Atlantic cruise ship from London to New York City in (you guessed it) 1899. The group (generally) doesn’t know each other, and most of them are from different countries. (The show has Spanish, Cantonese, Dutch, German, French, and English on a very regular basis. The characters often don’t understand each other, but subtitles are given for everything, so the audience knows what everyone is saying.) The ship encounters its sister ship in the middle of the Atlantic, four months after that ship had disappeared. Mystery and intrigue ensue.

The show is from the same folks who did Dark, which I really enjoyed. (If you haven’t seen that series, you should definitely check it out, if you like science fiction and time travel. Great stuff.) The same sort of unraveling mystery premise is at work in 1899, and this is very much the first season of the show. That means it does a fantastic job of asking lots of questions, setting lots of riddles, and answering those questions with even bigger questions. If you loved Lost and the experience of watching Lost unfold over the years, then this show is for you. If Lost infuriated you, probably avoid this.

Of course, since I have no idea what the answers to the show’s questions are, it’s hard for me to really say one way or the other if it’ll all pay off. When people found Lost’s answers, many didn’t like them, and thus didn’t like the show. (I personally enjoyed the answers, even though I wish we’d gotten more of them.) On the other hand, Dark was able to ask big questions and deliver on answers, so I’m optimistic for 1899’s future.

It’s got some language and steamy scenes, but nothing in the ballpark of an HBO show. Denisa and I both enjoyed it, and now we’re both impatient for the next season. (That’s the Catch 22 of shows like this. On the one hand, it would be nice just to watch it all at once, and never have to wait. On the other, if enough people don’t watch the first season, then we’ll never get a second season at all . . .)

It’s 8 episodes, and it moves quickly. Very bingeable. Give it a shot. 8/10


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