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3 Body Problem

3 Body Problem

I was surprised to learn that there was going to be a Netflix adaptation of one of my favorite books. There had already been a Chinese adaptation announced and a Chinese animated series of The Dark Forest announced. It’s weird that so many adaptions of the same books would get made so soon one after the other. Learning that the directors were going to be the same two people that left a poor impressions on everyone after what happened with Game of Thrones I was disappointed. However, I was cautiously optimistic knowing thinking that they could do a reasonably good job given a complete source material so they weren’t responsible for crafting the events themselves. After the first trailer was released it looked decent, but unfortunately I was still greatly disappointed with this adaptation overall in the end.

3 Body Problem the Netflix series suffers from poor pacing and a lack of understanding of what made the book fascinating. It takes the concepts and thought provoking events and place them as a backdrop to the drama of individuals. The story of Three Body Problem the book is so grand and of such scale that mere individuals and their feelings about modern issues with society are nearly irrelevant. Yet that appears to be the primary focus of this adaptation. In the book the characters are more akin to chess pieces to move the story along or lenses to view the events from and to give perspective to the much grander story taking place. Reducing the book to the petty drama of individuals makes it feel like any other sitcom of no consequence. The tone at times was also almost comical rather than the deadly seriousness that the book had that made is so compelling. The constant mentioning of aliens and the one time the Fermi paradox was brought up felt nearly fourth wall breaking like the characters knew that they were in a story. Almost like if the characters in a zombie apocalypse kept bringing up how annoying it is that they were in a zombie apocalypse like all those zombie apocalypse movies they saw. The book up to the point of this adaptation very sparsely brought up the word “alien” as nobody in such a situation would actually believe such a thing so readily and the reader isn’t meant to believe it so readily either until the very end.

Halfway through it had already reached the climax of the of the first book. The pacing greatly suffers from being limited to only 8 episodes, but they had already exhausted the contents of the first book by 4 episodes. Instead they decided to pull content from the second and even the third book. These events do take place chronologically at the same time, but don’t really make sense to be told in this order. I find this to be poor delivery of these events because they make more sense as flashbacks once you fully understand the weight of what is occurring in the future. Not putting proper emphasis on the moments that matter and giving too much emphasis on the moments that don’t matter is a common theme among this adaptation.

The one aspect of this adaptation that I found to be well done was the events of the Chinese cultural revolution. Which ironically was one of the parts that the Chinese Tencent adaptations did poorly and quickly glossed over. The scenery, the costumes, the actors felt well done and authentic in these scenes and it almost feels like these parts were handled by a completely different studio and director to the rest of the show.

It is possible that there could be a season 2 considering where the story leaves off, but based on how focused on people and with almost everything taking place in 21st century locations I have little hope for a season 2 to do the events of The Dark Forest any justice. Nothing that we have seen in season 1 shows that they are capable of show a world nearly 400 years into the future and all the events that take place in space.

Silo Season 1

Silo Season 1

Silo Season 1 (2023)

I watched Silo back when it started airing in May 2023. I had never read the book and avoided starting the book while it was airing to get the most spoiler free experience. I’m looking forward to season 2 which was announced before the show concluded airing. I suspect I will have read at least the entire first book (Wool) by that point. Like other shows that I have seen while having previously read the book it will still be enjoyable to experience the fictional world in visual format even if there is no longer a mystery. I found all of the acting to be well done and immersive, but one random thing kept poking at the back of my mind. I kept imagining the character Allison who primarily appears in episode 1 was the character Ann Perkins from Parks and Recreation. It’s kind of silly considering any actor is going to play a number of roles, but in my mind this person is definitively Ann Perkins. Thankfully she is really only in the first episode so it didn’t cause a distraction the entire season.

The show reminds me of the situation from the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane. There are people trapped in a kind of bunker and the authority or authority figure is telling you that you absolutely can’t go outside because you will die. The premise of Silo is simple, but where I find it the most interesting is the world building and mysteries. Unlike 10 Cloverfield Lane the bunker in Silo is enormous enough to have an entire self sustaining city. Due to its size and number of people there are naturally a lot of places to explore and a lot of people who could be hiding things. The most obvious mysteries that are presented at the very beginning are whether the outside is actually poisonous, who built the silo, why they built the silo and when they built the silo. They mention these unknowns frequently, but they bring it up most notably in the first episode during a speech on “Freedom Day”. Which is a rather ironic name for a independence day type holiday while being trapped underground.

We do not know why we are here. We do not know who built the Silo. We do not know why everything outside the Silo is as it is. We do not know when it will be safe to go outside. We only know that day is not this day.

I believe the show does a great job at the beginning with hooking you with a compelling narrative and exciting mystery. However, after the first few episode it felt like it dragged on for quite awhile before anything of significant consequence started happening again. The slow middle had plenty of intriguing world building, but it didn’t seem to be bringing the audience any closer to solving the mysteries they so explicitly brought up at the beginning. Thankfully the ending felt satisfying and in some ways even conclusive despite there being another half of the story based on the source material.

The mix of CGI and real sets meshed well in my opinion as it was not obvious what was real and what was CGI without thinking more critically about it. It’s not something I often think about or take note of in shows. Something about the apparent impossibility of the environment on some of the scenes despite looking seamless. For example the scene of one of the larger sections of the Silo showing thousands of people despite only a small section of it being a real. Other notable locations being very bottom of the basement with the extraordinarily large chamber as well as the engine room felt impressive.

I am looking forward to season 2 of Silo despite the high likelihood of having read the first book by then. Despite being satisfied with the conclusion to season 1 I find there are still a lot of unanswered questions. I am fairly confident the story will progress in a way that will address them.

Foundation Season 2

Foundation Season 2

Foundation Season 2 (2023)

I mentioned this in a previous post, but I have never read the book for the Foundation trilogy or any of the books in the series. I’ve seen fans of the book be critical of this adaptation for not being faithful to Asimov’s original intent. I am unsure if I am better off having not read it yet and enjoying this TV series in ignorance or if I should have read the book first so I can properly understand the point Asimov was trying to make. None the less I cannot change the past and it is what it is. I enjoyed this show if for nothing else than the spectacular visuals for much of it. The very first episode had a beautiful depiction of an extremely large space elevator as well as its amazing destruction. A space elevator of this magnitude falling to the planet such as Trantor with its many layers of civilization and the entire planet being covered with a single city was truly incredible.

However, from then on the show has this stark contrast between all of the scenes featuring the Empire and everything else on Terminus. This is where our protagonists Gaal Dornick and Hari Seldon were sent to build the foundation that would reduce supposed dark ages following the inevitable collapse of the Empire. All of the scenes featuring the plot on Empire I found exciting and really well done while all of the scenes on Terminus and with Gaal, Hari and Salvor to be quite bland and stereotypical. Which is curious considering the Empire plot is mostly content written for the show and the plot on Terminus is vaguely resembling the plot Asimov wrote in the original trilogy.

My biggest gripe with the show might be that the plot from my understanding is often contradictory. The way Hari originally described the concept of psychohistory and its mathematics was that it takes a sufficiently large population to make any accurate predictions about future trends. No mere individual is significant enough to make any deviations in those trends. Yet rather consistently we see Gaal and even Hari himself make statements that they absolutely need to do some urgently as the fate of the galaxy depends on it. I don’t see how this can possibly be the case if the concept of psychohistory is to be taken as legitimate.

Despite some glaring inconsistencies I still enjoyed my time watching this show and look forward to the likely season 3 that is coming. In the meantime I might have to read the book to finally see the story as it was originally intended by Asimov.