Charlie Jade (TV, 2008)
A review of the DVD release of the intriguing, but ultimately forgettable, TV show Charlie Jade. From Death Ray 10.
Created by: Chris Roland and Robert Wertheimer
Starring: Jeffrey Pierce, Michale Filipowich, Michele Burgers, Tyrone Benskin
Alternate reality SF show that’s big on ideas and small on story.
Beautiful scenery, an unusual location, great camerawork, a solid cast and a good idea might seem ideal ingredients for a solid SF series, but it’s not enough. What’s missing from this here Canadian/ South African co-production is storytelling. Charlie Jade is like a drawing of a luxury mansion when you’ve no bricks, or a recipe for a gorgeous cake with no flour in the cupboard, or just bricks and flour with no plan or recipe, it’s just a heap of raw materials begging to be made into something cool. But it’s not, and the show’s determination to do away with subtle introduction of its Big Theme through story and simply wap it out on the table as dogged voice-over narrative is dull, dull, dull.
It’s not as if parallel universes are new and confusing, even the normal folk of this world who aren’t fully boned up on spaceships and robots (and who most certainly don’t read Death Ray) have heard of and accept the idea of What if…? worlds where different versions of themselves knock about in awful clothes and speak Bulgarian. Not that they’d be watching Jade anyway, as it’s a portentous a lump of genre TV as you ould wish for, full of the sins of the ideas geek. Unfortunately for it, its target audience is even more au fait with alt realities, but that doesn’t stop the writers ladling old ideas out of the screen and onto our living room carpet like so much cold gravy, no sir.
Charlie Jade is a PI, who gets mixed up in corporate shenanigans to supply his industrially ravaged “Alphaverse” with water nicked from the utopian “Gammaverse”, which puts our “Betaverse” in danger. His first inkling something is up is the appearance of a dislocated Cape Town girl lost in his own Cape City. Old Charlie certainly wishes he’s listened to her when he finds himself stranded in our humdrum reality… Sounds good eh? But it’s clumsily delivered, too much is introduced at once and a lot of the story is info-dumped via “They were mean streets…” style weary off-screen rumblings pinched from Chandler-esque movies.
A great shame, but after only an hour of Charlie we were jaded.