After much hoopla, Counterpart aired season 1 on Starz. It was really a letdown. They could’ve done so much with this series. Instead they made every episode about world-building rather than furthering the plot.
2 out of 10 stars. The background for the story, which they vomit all over you in every single episode, is that in 1987 the East Germans set off some kind of device that copied the world and made a parallel universe which they now refer to as the other side. Only one organization in our world knows about this, however on the other side everyone seems to know about it. The other major line in the backstory revolves around a 1997 flu pandemic which the other side blames on us. So they’ve been raising orphans of the flu epidemic into terrorists to come to our side, kill their counterparts, and assume their identities meanwhile plotting the destruction of our world. When this plot is finally revealed the other side shuts down the door to our world in response, so the main protagonist, Howard, is stranded on the other side while his doppleganger, Howard Prime, is stuck here. Obviously Howard Prime is a happy camper and Howard is a little scared.
There are so many parts of this storyline that completely fail. First, at least half of the ten hours are spent on backstory. The audience is not stupid. We get it. But this much time spent on world-building is ridiculous. Second, at the end of each 50 minute episode is a 20 minute “behind the episode” wherein the writer or director (not sure who he is) describes what’s clever about the episode. Except it really never is clever. Third, there are really only four main characters who carry the show and they are all very unlikeable. What’s the point? I’m not invested in any of them, not even regular Howard from our world because frankly he’s kind of dumb and lame. Fourth, it’s very dark and dreary. The other side is especially dreary. Fifth, speaking of backstory, the writers made way too much of the 1997 pandemic and how it affected their universe. No one shops or goes out in public, everyone wears face masks, and there are UV light sanitizers everywhere even at the stoplight. Sixth, the corridor in which only one person may pass through to the other side and go across is not really as clever as the writer/director thinks. It’s just an underground hallway. I was expecting something really cool and this lame hallway is what we got. 🙁
When I read that someone on Rotten Tomatoes compared this to Man in the High Castle I was really surprised. Man in the High Castlehas a complicated and worthwhile plot. The protagonist, Juliana Crane, is worth rooting for and is the centerpiece of the show. Her moral compass is what makes most people watch. Counterparthas neither of those. It’s ten hours of lame world-building.
I sincerely hope they don’t waste another season on this really bad writing.