Preview of Paradox Episode 1 (spoiler-free)

As Nuge reported earlier, on the 24th of November the BBC premieres it’s new Sci-Fi thriller series: Paradox. I’ve been lucky enough to see the first episode so I thought I’d post a quick preview.

To be clear, this is just a preview, discussing the tone, style and overall quality of the show. There will be no spoilers about the plot or future developments.
So there’s this team of police officers investigating a series of random clues that seem to have been sent from the future, in order to avert an unidentified catastrophe. That certainly doesn’t sound like anything else that’s on television at the moment, right? (coughcoughFlash-forwardcoughcough).

But unlike certain American TV shows, this series takes a very real-world approach to police-work. There’s no helicopters, there’s no convenient computer programmes, no super-fast labs. In fact, there’s no real resources except their wits and their good old-fashioned investigation skills.

Although the exact source of the images that spark the investigation remain a mystery, the main thrust of the show involves piecing together these vague clues to try to avert an unknown catastrophe, while being constantly overshadowed by a ticking clock.

There’s 2 ways of doing a show like this. The first is to concentrate on the mystery of the clues and where they come from. This is the approach that Flash-forward is taking and it can be a bit of a risk. When it works it can really grip an audience, but you have to be sure that when the answers come, that they satisfy the patient viewers. I personally got sick of Heroes throwing out half-baked mythology at me and I’m worried Flash-forward will end up doing the same.

Paradox takes the other approach, to use the concept to set up a weekly adventure but leave space to fill in the mythology as the series goes along. It works particularly well with procedural series, like the early series of the X files. The advantage of this is that even if the reason behind the weekly clues turns out to be complete guff, I know it will at least result in a tightly plotted TV thriller.

There are also some strong performances, in particular Tamzin Outhwaite’s tough but vulnerable DI and the intellectually brilliant but potentially unstable Dr Christian King.

It’s always misleading to judge an entire series on the merits of its first few episodes. Many excellent series started weakly (I personally hated most of the first series of Farscape but was hooked by the second) or start strong then fizzle out. But if nothing else, this shows promise.

Its hard to say much more without getting into spoilers so I’ll leave you with this summary:

It’s a tense, tightly written procedural series with a neat Sci-fi twist. It’s got some interesting ideas and it doesn’t take the easy or obvious route to get to them. Well worth a look.

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