21 July 2007

Kyle XY

Kyle XY is probably the best TV series I've ever seen. I watched the first season on DVD yesterday, but I guess it will be a long wait until I can see the second season, as six episodes out of 23 in the second season (there were just ten in the first), have already aired.

It is a science fiction drama with a sequential plot, in which an mystery unfolds, in the tradition of VR5, the Firefly/Serenity series, Smallsville and Roswell, rather than a sitcom or mere episodic melodrama. The character development and fully fleshed out relationships rival the Harry Potter series, as does the intricacy of the plots and subplots, and frequent surprise resolutions of plot points. The foreshadowing, literary references, product placements, and witty dialog are all executed with greater grace than is usually the case in the genre, as are the artful beginnings, steady middle portions and well executed endings of essentially every episode. It is one of the most popular series on ABC Family and ABC, breaking the notion good quality network television has secure only low ratings.

The science fiction elements are not terribly adventurous and are used sparingly. The movie "The Island" raises essentially the same core concept scientifically, but like Phillip Dick's short stories, and VR5, this is as much about the conspiracies of a vague nefarious organizations in a situation with imperfect information, as it is about cutting edge science.

Like most speculative fiction, it is as much a launching point for looking at our own society with open eyes, as it is about the science per se. It explores teenage love, school tracking, upper middle class life in the Northwest, religion, sports, secrets and lies, and more. The second season adds more fantastic pseudo-scientific elements, but also expands the conspiracy angle and character development (or so says the second season preview that I watched).

The core ensemble cast works well together, and the secondary cast above the norm for television. Few movies have acting or a script that is as strong, even though the television show is probably pretty inexpensive to make, as it has no top drawer stars, few expensive special effects, no animation (which is expensive) and a contemporary setting that eliminates the costs associated with costume dramas (although the sets, clothes and cars are all tony). The strong points of cinematography and screen writing don't cost more to do well than to do poorly, especially for a storyline that is not an adapted screenplay. The only real splurge is on the soundtrack, and even there, the bands are mostly in the process of being discovered, rather than being big name bands.

It is interesting how often low cost productions come out better than higher cost extravaganzas. It is far more polished than say, "Dr. Who," and it is shot to allow and HDTV version, but it still has to be a pretty cheap effort for a high rating show.

Yes, I admit that I have pandered to a number of my regular readers in the references I've made above, but only for your own good. Try it, you'll like it.

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