I don’t know if the 13-episode miniseries ReGenesis got much airplay outside of Canada, but I just finished watching it (downloaded, which is the only format in which it’s accessible to me) and I have to say it was absolutely worthwhile. It was so riveting that one evening I watched three, or was it four, episodes in a row, just to finish the series.
I am not sure exactly how believable some of it was, but on the other hand, I nonetheless found the story fascinating. The idea that engineered diseases, planted by some very unusual terrorists and spreading like wildfire, could destabilize a place like Toronto, or that an accident at a genetics lab in Guatemala could cause an outbreak of temporary hemophilia in Mexico, and so on… the mini-plots were all really engaging, and the responses of all the characters to the different situations involved were really captivating.
There were a few elements of the Mad-Scientist character in some of the villains, and as well there was a bit too much soap drama for my liking, with the head of the NORBAC agency gettin’ it on with a partner agent in Mi6, and just about every other female character gettin’ it on with (or having a history with) the protagonist, head scientist David Sangstrom. And for me, the plotline involving his daughter evaporated far too quickly, and far too completely, too near to the end of the story without any real conclusion.
And I think there was a little bit too much of the “geniuses at work” stuff for my own taste. I really don’t think the most brilliant scientists sit about brainstorming with crayons on glass screens, farting out series of ideas and then shooting them down until they come up with a sensible possibility which looks completely obvious the moment they stumble upon it. But you know, most politics isn’t all that dramatic, either; the story of playing in a rock band is mostly about sitting around waiting for your turn to get onstage, and having to listen to whole series of other bands that you may or may not like. When we put a story on TV, we have to dramatize it. That’s just how it works. So I can get over the somewhat fake-feeling brainstorm sessions and the genius-at-work scenes where Sangstrom is hunched at a glass screen, scribbling madly with a crayon.
In fact, I did soon get over those scenes, and I found the series compelling when I did. It’s SF, but it’s just barely SF. It’s SF in the way that a book like The Zenith Angle by Bruce Sterling is, or Neal Stephenson’s Cryptomicon. It’s not set in the future, it’s not working off any technology much more advanced than we have now, it’s not relying on any major violations of known science as far as I can tell. It’s the SF of the immediately possible, and perhaps even just SF composed of what looms ahead.
The company that got Regenesis onto TV is Shaftesbury Films, whose website you can see here. While you cannot watch any of the Regensis series online, you can see episodes from their series The Shields Stories, which are kind of odd and funny but also worth checking out (from what I’ve seen).
Another cool thing about Regenesis is that the series was launched with an alternate-reality MMPORG (massive multi-player online roleplaying game). If you visit the show’s website, on the About page there is a list of links to websites related to the TV show. It’s quite interesting how it got set up. I don’t know how much play the MMPORG got, but I do know that this is going to be a trend that will increase, with more and more sophisticated games getting introduced over time. It might be that eventually TV series will end up as promotional tools for such games, instead of the other way around. Hmm. That’s an interesting thought, really…