For the past few weeks now 1899 has been one of the most popular shows on Netflix. It’s the follow up from the guys who brought us Dark, one of Netflix’s most acclaimed original shows although hand up I haven’t seen it. The series has received acclaim for its diverse and multinational cast, thrilling mystery, and its visuals. I was excited when the show came out as the premise genuinely piqued my interest and I’ll even admit I was hooked after the first episode but my oh my was this one a chore to finish.
The premise of the show is a pretty good one: a ship traveling from Europe to the United States receives a distress signal from a vessel long-thought to have sank and when the crew comes upon the ship they find it has been completely abandoned with seemingly no explanation as to what happened. This sets off a series of strange events that leaves both the crew and passengers questioning their own sanity and looking for answers.
To give the show credit: the pilot is awesome. It did a great job of introducing the characters, establishing the dynamics of the ship, and presents an interesting mystery. After that, the show does nothing for me. What ensues is seven very slow episodes of nothing but uninteresting questions followed by answers we never receive. The genre of characters trying to figure out if they’re dreaming or what they’re seeing is real or not is very overplayed and it takes a lot to take this common idea in a unique or interesting direction which this show just never does.
What’s frustrating is I can’t even point to specifics about why it stinks other than its just really fucking boring. The show seems to think its smarter than it is and its infuriating to watch. Plus it had such an annoyingly basic episode structure that I’m surprised nobody at Netflix tried to intervene. Every single episode starts with a dream, then a character waking up, followed by an establishing shot of the ship, then 45 minutes of nothing, capped off by a classic rock song taking us to credits. They did the same thing every single episode.
I believe that this is the latest example of a program viewers and critics alike want to like thus try to cherry pick reasons why the show is so amazing. It’s kind of like Vinyl. For those of you who don’t remember, it was a Martin Scorsese produced show about a record company in the 1970s that featured an all-star cast (Bobby Canavale, Olivia Wilde, Juno Temple, and Ray Romano just to name a few) and all the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll one could ask for. It looked amazing and had several notable scenes during its lone season but despite having all these amazing elements it just sucked. That’s what 1899 feels like although instead of an all star cast its an ensemble of unknown European actors and Qyburn from Game of Thrones, and I don’t care if that just spoiled anything for you.
I stuck with it because I needed to see if the ends justified the means but nope, it just set up the next season which I am officially out on. I’m declaring 1899 officially dumb.
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