DVD
Charlie Jade
Series 1 - Part 1

Starring: Jeffrey Pierce, Michael Filipowich, Patricia McKenzie, Michele Burgers, Tyrone Benskin, Danny Keogh and Marie-Julie Rivest
Lace International
RRP: 34.99
LACE393
Certificate: 15
Available 26 December 2007


Charlie Jade is a rogue private detective in a world dominated by greedy multinational corporations. While on an investigation, Charlie explores a secret desert facility. A massive explosion propels him from his own universe (Alphaverse) to a strange parallel universe (Betaverse). Soon, Charlie is drawn into a conflict that involves these two universes and one other pacifist universe (Gammaverse) with unsuspected terror at its heart...

Series 1 - Part 1 of Charlie Jade contains the first 10 episodes of this groundbreaking sci-fi show. Now, I don't use the term "groundbreaking" lightly here. This show has an ongoing story arc that is more cerebral than just about every other sci-fi show made to date, as well as production values that put some Hollywood sci-fi movies to shame.

The series spans three parallel universes' - three alternate versions of Earth. The Alphaverse (where Charlie Jade lives and works as a private detective) is a dystopian futuristic world very similar in style to the universe seen in Ridley Scott's Bladerunner. This universe is dominated by a number of gigantic multinational corporation - the main one being Vex-Cor. Betaverse is very similar to our own universe and the show actually promotes this universe as "one half hour from now". And finally we have Gammaverse, which is a more idyllic version of planet Earth - the sort of environment we'd live in if we were more environmentally friendly and actually gave a sh*t about anything other than a convenient and easy lifestyle.

The show opens with Jade working on a strange investigation, which leads him to a secret desert facility. A massive explosion propels him from his own universe (Alphaverse) to a strange parallel universe (Betaverse). Here he gets involved with Karl Lubinsky - a sort of South African Fox Mulder of the Betaverse - who has spent his life investigating the paranormal and is a big believer in UFOs and government conspiracies.

The explosion that propelled Jade into the future was actually set off in the Gammaverse by two terrorists - one of whom is killed while the other, Reena, is also thrown into the Betaverse. Renna had no idea that the explosion at the facility in her universe would kill so many people across three parallel universes - she was simply trying to protect her planet from Vex-Cor, who are attempting to gain a foothold and drain the natural resources of her world.

As Jade and Reena struggle to come to grips with what has happened to them, another person is thrown into the equation. Known simply as "01 Boxer" (who we later discover is also called Owen) this mysterious, and apparently unhinged, individual is the son of the head of Vex-Cor and the only human that can travel between all three universes at will. But, as the series progresses, we soon discover that not everyone is who they seem to be.

And as the show unfolds, we discover quite a lot of Jade's back story - about his childhood and that he was once apart of Vex-Cor's heavily armed security division. And Jade's girlfriend from the Alphaverse also seems to be alive and well in the Betaverse. And while she has a different name, it's odd that there seems to be hardly anyone else who has a personality in at least two of the universes.

It's also interesting to see that certain things from our past and present are very much alive and well in the Alphaverse. It was good to see that Jade drives a British Aston Martin DBS6 (which were manufactured between 1968 and 1973 and most famously portrayed on the big screen in the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service) while in the Alphaverse.

While many critics have understandably compared the Alphaverse to Ridley Scott's Bladerunner, the creators have on numerous occasions stated that Derrick Jensen's book The Culture of Make Believe was their main inspiration for the series.

The show is not afraid to tackle subjects that most TV series would shy away from. For example, showing a more sympathetic side of terrorists - to the point where they have made one a hero; and tackling large multinational companies instead of the government. Everyone knows that it's not the governments that run western countries, but large multinationals who control everything these days.

As the show's first series was originally broadcast in April 2005, the chances of a second series being commissioned are next to nothing - which is a shame as this is one sci-fi show that truly does break new ground.

Extras include Charlie Jade: Behind the Scenes (22 min "Making of" featurette); Promo (2 min promo for the show); 16a (45 min episode which seems to be a recap on the show so far with some new linking scenes with Karl. Nowhere on the packaging does it go into any explanation of what this was made for - although I'm guessing it was aired between episodes 16 and 17 to allow people to catch up with what had gone before); and Recap (18 min short recap segments that would have been placed at the start of each episode on its original transmission).

My main complaint with the DVD release of this series is the high retail price, which will see you having to splash out £70 for the entire season. And, as the show won't be concluded, a lot of people will not want to pay £70 to be left hanging in the lurch.

But, having said that, I still feel that this is possibly the most intelligent and aesthetically pleasing sci-fi show you'll ever see.

Darren Rea

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All prices correct at time of going to press.