Sense8: Is the sci-fi saga Netflix's next must-see series?
By Morgan Jeffery Digital Spy
Along with the plot outline came the unveiling of Sense 8's 14-member international cast - and if the thought of a collaboration between Straczynski and the Wachowskis didn't already have you fired up, this roster of star names and cult favorites would surely leave any geek salivating.
Brian J Smith - best known for his role as Lt. Matthew Scott in the much-missed Stargate Universe - will lead the regular cast, which also includes British stars Tuppence Middleton and Aml Ameen, the latter soon to be seen in sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner.
The supporting cast also includes Naveen Andrews - forever Lost's tragic hero Sayid Jarrah - and Freema Agyeman - Doctor Who's perennially underrated companion Martha Jones.
On producing duties are Georgeville Television - the independent TV studio that was, for the longest time, developing a remake of Brit cult classic Blake's 7 for US television.
But if you're concerned that Sense8's geek credibility might also render it a niche project, worry not - this is a hugely ambitious project and Netflix is backing it all the way, with 10 episodes shot in nine locations on four continents - Chicago, San Francisco, London, Iceland, Seoul, Mumbai, Berlin, Mexico City and Nairobi.
This isn't a one-and-out deal either - Netflix is reportedly negotiating long-term deals with the cast. "Our actor deals are being made for five seasons - five or six depending on the breaks," Straczynski confirmed to Zap2it in February. "So we imagined this over the long, long haul. The first season is the origin story for our characters and then we kind of go from there."
Sense8 was originally expected to debut in late 2014 - though a 2015 unveiling now seems more likely - and just as the freedom afforded by Netflix has drawn big names such as Kevin Spacey, David Fincher and Jodie Foster to the service, so Straczynski's frustrations with US broadcast networks likely drove him and his new partners to the online outlet.
"I keep waiting for a paradigm shift to happen that will let network and studio execs see that sci-fi is the same as any other genre in terms of how you approach it - logically, character-based, with challenging ideas and forward thinking - but I worry that it might never happen in my lifetime," the writer/producer said in April of last year.
The Wachowskis have already reinvented science fiction once - and now Straczynski, a genre stalwart, sounds hungry to do it again. Ambitious in scope and freed from the restrictions of broadcast television, Sense8 has the potential to be a ground-breaking piece of small-screen science fiction - now it just has to deliver on its considerable promise.
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