Charlie Jade: The Complete Series One (2005) (DVD SF TV film series review)
When the end of the opening scene of the first episode where balls are exchanged between two alternative world realities with a return message saying ‘Our balls are bigger than your balls’, you realise that the 2005 ‘Charlie Jade’ SF series should be worth watching. I should point out that this series is not comedy and light. If anything, its damn right sinister but that opening line makes you pay attention that there is an intelligent script that is waiting to be watched and does it deliver. You better believe it. Don’t be taken in by the slow pace of the opening episodes as people are thrown into situations they have to make sense of.
‘Charlie Jade’ is a Canadian/South African series filmed in the latter country, so you won’t be short of sunshine and settings. Mind you, AlphaVerse isn’t our reality as Cape City belongs to Vexcor, one of five agglomerates that govern their world. That alternative Earth is heavily polluted, heavily monitored, with everyone having an ID implant and being caught for a crime could end your days in a body bank, not that doesn’t happen illegally. It makes the ‘Blade Runner’ reality look pretty nice in comparison.
Charlie Jade (actor Jeffrey Pierce) is a private detective who looks for missing people with a perchance to seeing odd ghostly things, not knowing that his Alphaverse connects to two other alternative realities, Betaverse and Gammaverse, a virtual paradise in comparison. In pursuit of information pertaining to a dead girl who had no ID implant but met the previous night who was looking for Capetown before running off, Jade ends up in the desert and witnesses a transition explosion between the three alternative Earths while in pursuit of the psychopath 01 Boxer (actor Michael Filipowich), son of the head of Vexcor.
Jade witnesses the destruction of two of the mechanical transporter stations out in the desert and finds himself trapped in Betaverse, a world less advanced and falling apart than his own and looks a lot like the one we live in. He associates himself with Karl Lubinsky (actor Tyronne Benskin), a journalist seeking the truth about the unexplained and finding it becoming real before his eyes. He’s also aware of the woman, Reena (actress Patricia McKenzie) seen escaping from one of the stations before it blew and is also in hiding in Capetown. What neither of them know is that Boxer, who can move between realities without the use of any machine and acting as a delivery service between the three Verses is after Renna to find out what she did to cause the stations destruction. Along the way, Boxer kills Elliot Krogg, one of the people thought to be responsible for the destruction and was their chief designer. Boxer has his own plans but that’s for another time.
Switching between the three characters, there are occasional feelings of jumps where you think they might have shown something. I’m not sure if it was scripted or edited to bring it into episode time but it does tend to give a feeling of ignoring what isn’t needed. It’s also a series that you need to keep your eyes in attention because information is not always given in the script and you’ll be waiting a while to get all the various information so you work it out just ahead of Charlie Jade himself.
Things move up with the fifth episode, ‘And Not A Drop To Drink’, where you make the connection to the importance of water in the opening credits to what it is used for. Even so, although Jade sees a demonstration and even figures out a source, it does appear that he’s wrong and doesn’t see another connection.
The first volume within this boxset has surprises and not always how you would expect or see them resolved. It is very much a slow burner so don’t expect to have everything on a plate each episode but when it delivers, it leaves you realising just how powerful this series is. In fact, the revelation that those transverse personal can go native isn’t revealed until the eighth episode, ‘Devotion’, and then you’ll be watching everyone from different perspectives.
The thirteenth episode, ‘Through A Mirror Darkly’ has to be one of the most powerful episodes I’ve seen anywhere. Granted it is full of torture but there is so many lies given that you’re carried on as the lies are peeled away and some strong truth reveals are given. You also find out who the true enemies are. This is one episode that you should not let young people watch for its violence but as drama it is core brilliant.
To cap it all, the final episode resolves many issues, adding some enigmas that could easily have made a second season. Alas, that never happened. However, this only season of ‘Charlie Jade’ is complete to itself and should be seen as one extended Science Fiction story that will leave you wondering how it was missed.
The roles of the characters blurs and those who you thought are the villains and heroes are not what they seem. This is a hidden cult classic that I would put on par with ‘The Prisoner’ if more of you watch it. You can’t see where it is going, only hope that it will get there somehow as the jigsaw is put together.
The extras are in the first box and seeing one as being labelled ‘16A’ and only seen eight episodes at this point, decided it might be wiser to wait until I saw them all. As it turns out, this is a recap episode and you’d be wiser to see it after episode 16. However, ‘The Making Of’ is worth seeing earlier because if you’re confused until this time, then it explains a lot. Always remember, we live in the Betaverse and without Charlie Jade, it will be quashed between two realities. The threat is on. The danger is only a stream of fast-moving water away and remember which reality has the bigger balls.
(region 2 DVD: pub: Lace DVD. 6 DVDs 993 minutes 20 * 50 minute episodes with extras. Price: I pulled my copy for £11.40 (UK) but buy as a complete boxset as its slightly more expensive as two volumes. ASIN: LACE 403)
cast: Jeffrey Pierce, Michael Filipowich, Tyrone Benskin, Danny Keogh, Marie-Julie Rivest, Patricia McKenzie and David Dennis