Critical Condition: Counterpart

Counterpart | SoHo, 8.30 Friday

➢ “Counterpart is quite likely to appeal to fans of a few different genres. A smartly constructed and atmospheric spy thriller, Counterpart’s first allegiance is to hushed conversations, dangerous secrets, and the kind of shadowy alleys and darkened hallways traversed by secret agents.  But Counterpart is also a work of speculative fiction, and it uses its graceful and well-modulated sci-fi elements to ask thoughtful questions about missed opportunities, identity, and what happens when people get unexpected chances to remake their lives.” — Variety.

Counterpart, created by Justin Marks (writer of the 2016 Jungle Book remake), is a clever and suspenseful if somewhat familiar mix of futuristic speculation and retro atmosphere. The setting is Berlin, where a Cold War experiment gone awry made an exact copy of our world, reachable through a passage in the basement of a government office building … The show is an argument about nature versus nurture, in both geopolitical and personal terms. Will the two worlds … inevitably become nothing like each other? Or will their basic natures prove to be stronger?” — New York Times.

“What makes the show work is that it invests very little in selling the science of this concept, choosing to craft a taut, suspenseful spy thriller rather than a more fantastical work of science fiction. The point of the show isn’t the portal itself; it’s the diplomatic intrigue that’s sparked by a world splintering into two very different realities.” — The Atlantic.

“Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) directs the pilot and sets the template (dark, stylish, German) that gives Counterpart a strong cinematic feel. Dense but absorbing, Counterpart is filled with both twists and slow reveals, urging you into commitment. Any time there’s a hesitation, there’s Simmons, whose outstanding work won’t let you pull away, giving Starz and creator Marks a series that could stand out in the TV jungle.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

Counterpart is built on a rather unwieldy premise that will either support seasons of absorbing brain-teasing or tumble over and scatter like a colossal Jenga tower. … Throughout all the setup of this riven world, imagined by show creator Justin Marks, Simmons shines. His performance is endlessly entertaining, and it kept me engaged in the story even when I wasn’t certain exactly what was happening.” — Boston Herald.

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