Altered Carbon (TV series)

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Altered Carbon
Altered Carbon title.jpg
Opening titles
Genre
Created byLaeta Kalogridis
Based onAltered Carbon
by Richard K. Morgan
Starring
Composer(s)Jeff Russo
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)John G. Lenic
Running time46–66 minutes
Production company(s)Virago Productions
Mythology Entertainment
Phoenix Pictures
Skydance Television
DistributorNetflix
Release
Original networkNetflix
Picture format
Audio format
Original releaseFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02) – present
External links
Website

Altered Carbon is an American dystopian science fiction cyberpunk web television series created by Laeta Kalogridis and based on the 2002 novel of the same title by English author Richard K. Morgan.[1][2] The first season consists of ten episodes and premiered on Netflix on February 2, 2018.[3]

On July 27, 2018, the series was renewed for a second season of eight episodes.[4]

Synopsis[edit]

The series takes place over 360 years in the future,[5][6] with most episodes set in the year 2384, in a futuristic San Francisco known as Bay City.[7] In the future, a person's memories and consciousness can be decanted in a disk-shaped device called a cortical stack, which is implanted in the vertebrae at the back of the neck. These storage devices are of alien design and have been reverse engineered and mass produced. Physical human or synthetic bodies are called "sleeves" and stacks can be transferred to new bodies after death, but a person can still be killed if their stack is destroyed. While this theoretically means anyone can live forever, only the wealthiest, known as "Meths" in reference to Methuselah, have the means to do so through clones and remote storage of their consciousness in satellites.[7]

Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman/Will Yun Lee/Byron Mann), a political operative with mercenary skills, is the sole surviving soldier of the Envoys, a rebel group defeated in an uprising against the new world order.[8] 250 years after the Envoys are destroyed, his stack is pulled out of prison by 300-year-old Meth Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), one of the wealthiest men in the settled worlds. Bancroft gives him the choice to solve a murder—Bancroft's own—to get a new shot at life.[9]

Cast[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs / Elias Ryker, a former Envoy, an elite rebel group defeated 250 years prior to the start of the series.[10]
  • James Purefoy as Laurens Bancroft, one of the wealthiest men alive, who lives in a skyscraper above the clouds and out of the reach of everyday people, ruthlessly powerful and wanting to exert control on those around him.[11]
  • Martha Higareda as Kristin Ortega, a smart and tough lieutenant in the Bay City Police Department, who is of Latin American descent and comes from a family of cops.[11]
  • Chris Conner as Edgar Poe, an artificial intelligence that takes the form of Edgar Allan Poe and runs the hotel that serves as Kovacs base of operations in Bay City.[12]
  • Dichen Lachman as Reileen Kawahara, Kovacs' sister, who shared his violent childhood, who joined the Envoys at the same time as him and apparently perished when the uprising was put down.[11]
  • Ato Essandoh as Vernon Elliot, a former Protectorate marine whose wife was imprisoned and daughter murdered.[12]
  • Kristin Lehman as Miriam Bancroft, Laurens' wife and a Meth who has her own motivations.[13] Lehman said she was "really intrigued and challenged" to play the character, considering it different from her other work. Her background as a dancer helped her prepare for the role. Of the character's sexuality, "She has commodified her sexuality and I was interested in exploring that side of the character."[14]
  • Trieu Tran as Mister Leung / Ghostwalker, a killer and "fixer" who kills and solves problems for a mysterious employer.[15]
  • Renée Elise Goldsberry as Quellcrist Falconer, a "master strategist" and leader of the Envoys, as well as a love interest of Kovacs'. She was killed when the rebellion was put down but reappears in Kovacs' flashbacks and hallucinations.[16]

Recurring[edit]

Season 2[edit]

Main[edit]

Development[edit]

Production[edit]

Netflix ordered the series in January 2016, fifteen years after Laeta Kalogridis optioned the novel with the intent of making a feature film.[3] According to Kalogridis, the complex nature of the novel and its R-rated material meant that it was a tough sell for studios before Netflix ordered the series.[3] The show was one of a number of dramas ordered in short order by Netflix, which had committed to spending $5 billion on original content.[1]

Kalogridis wrote the script and served as executive producer and showrunner.[1] Steve Blackman served as co-showrunner.[3] David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross of Skydance Television also served as producers, as well as Brad Fischer and James Vanderbilt of Kalogridis' Mythology Entertainment.[1] Miguel Sapochnik directed the pilot episode.[3][10] Morgan served as a consultant during the show's production.[23]

The production costs were not disclosed but Kinnaman said it had "bigger budget than the first three seasons of Game of Thrones".[9]

Ann Foley served as costume designer. The production crew fitted about 2,000 costumers and custom made at least 500 pieces for the show, and emphasized "grounded" looks for future fashion but figured in specific details, such as a unique palette for Meth characters and subtle costume changes when different people are inhabiting the same sleeve.[24]

The series is produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[25]

Altered Carbon was renewed for a second season in July 2018. Anthony Mackie will take over the lead role of Takeshi Kovacs, replacing season 1 star Joel Kinnaman. Additionally, Alison Schapker joined the series as co-showrunner alongside Laeta Kalogridis.[4]

Adaptation of the novel[edit]

While most of the major plot points in the book are retained, the adaptation featured several major changes for characters. Poe's character originally took the form of Jimi Hendrix in the books, but Hendrix's estate declined to license his image for the series because of its violence. Instead Kalogridis said Poe and a Victorian era hotel would juxtapose well with the futuristic Bay City.[26]

Anime[edit]

On November 7, 2018, Netflix announced an anime companion series set in the same universe and exploring new elements of the story mythology. The series will be written by Dai Satō and Tsukasa Kondo.[27]

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Out of the Past"Miguel SapochnikLaeta KalogridisFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Convicted criminal Takeshi Kovacs awakens in a new body after two and a half centuries to help an extremely rich man, Laurens Bancroft, solve his own murder. He died just before his consciousness was uploaded and saved to a satellite, and the evidence suggests it was a suicide. Bancroft offers Kovacs a massive amount of wealth and Kovacs' freedom, but Kovacs declines. He is briefly interrogated by a police officer called Ortega, but makes it clear he doesn't want the case. Just before he checks into a gothic hotel run by an artificial intelligence, Kovacs is attacked by a high-class hitman called Dimitri. As Kovacs has been gone for two hundred and fifty years, he believes someone really did kill Bancroft and takes the case.
2"Fallen Angel"Nick HurranSteve BlackmanFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Lieutenant Kristin Ortega, already at odds with the Bancrofts, tracks Kovacs, who is investigating the long list of people who have threatened Laurens' life.
3"In a Lonely Place"Nick HurranBrian NelsonFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Kovacs is invited to a party at the Bancroft mansion, where Laurens has assembled the many likely suspects in his murder.
4"Force of Evil"Alex GravesRussel Friend & Garrett LernerFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Kovacs is abducted and tortured, and must remember his Envoy training by Quellcrist Falconer to turn the tables on his captors.
5"The Wrong Man"Uta BriesewitzNevin DenshamFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Kovacs has learned that his sleeve was formerly the disgraced cop Elias Ryker, Ortega's lover, and demands answers.
6"Man with My Face"Alex GravesSteve BlackmanFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
While Ortega recovers from a violent attack, Kovacs informs Laurens of his son Isaac's duplicity. Ortega and Kovacs are abducted by Carnage, who forces them into a fight to the death with his minions.
7"Nora Inu"Andy GoddardNevin Densham & Casey FisherFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Reunited with his resurrected sister Reileen, Kovacs remembers his origins in the Protectorate, and with Quellcrist.
8"Clash by Night"Uta BriesewitzBrian NelsonFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Faced with his sister's treachery, Kovacs gets Vernon's wife Ava released into a male sleeve to help him convince Laurens that his lawyer Oumou Prescott is the murderer. Ortega tries to determine the identity of the mystery woman who saved Kovacs.
9"Rage in Heaven"Peter HoarRussel Friend & Garrett LernerFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
After Reileen issues a violent ultimatum, Kovacs and his associates plot to infiltrate her ship.
10"The Killers"Peter HoarLaeta Kalogridis & Nevin DenshamFebruary 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
Everything is revealed as Kovacs confronts Reileen for the last time, and Lizzie faces the Bancrofts.

Release[edit]

The series premiered on Netflix on February 2, 2018. The official trailer was released on January 11, 2018.[28]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 65% based on 86 reviews, and an average rating of 6.56/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Altered Carbon leans hard into its cyberpunk roots, serving up an ambitiously pulpy viewing experience that often overwhelms, but never bores."[29] On Metacritic, the season has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[30]

David Griffin of IGN said the show "gets almost everything right" as a "cyberpunk fantasyland." Griffin praised the visuals and the complexity of the plot, as well as the acting, such as Chris Conner's performance as the AI hotel manager Poe. He also wrote of the show's problems, such as the intricacies of the murder often got "in the way of the show's momentum" and the murder plot "loses steam" early on. He ultimately gave it a score of 8.8 out of 10, summarizing it as "A visual titan with a less than stellar story."[31] Michael Rougeau of GameSpot made a point of calling it "hardcore" science fiction, as a "noir sci-fi/gumshoe thriller bursting with the trappings of both genres, from murdered prostitutes and holographic billboard ads to AIs who flit between the real world and some convoluted cyberspace." The review praised how deeply the show examined and explored the cortical stack, the central concept.[32] Catherine Pearson of Digital Spy said the visuals were magnificent and the themes fascinating, but that it had flaws; for example, the characters "mumbling their way through long expository dialogue."[33]

The Vancouver Sun summarized that the reaction of professional critics was mixed, and that the critics' conclusion was that the "murder mystery takes a back seat to the show's futuristic visuals."[34] Entertainment Weekly also summarized reviews, saying the consensus was that the visuals were spectacular, but the violence against women raised questions.[35] Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly gave it a "B-" grade and wrote that the "show tackles race, gender, and class with all the subtlety of a blowtorch."[36] Forbes criticized other critics for speaking negatively of the show and called it "terrific"[37] and one of the best science fiction shows on television.[38] Andrew Liptak of The Verge called it engrossing, but criticized the lack of focus on the relationships between the characters.[39]

Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times gave it a mixed review, but particularly praised Kinnaman, even if the fight scenes were described as tedious in a way.[40] Jen Chaney of Vulture said the show was "ambitious, convoluted, violent, derivative, and somehow simultaneously grimy and glossy," but ultimately gave it a negative review, saying "the visual candy and philosophical subtext of Altered Carbon may wash over me, but none of it gets absorbed in any lasting way."[41] Radio Times wrote that the "drama tries to find its groove by shifting erratically from noir detective drama to war epic to soap opera, ultimately failing to meet its own lofty ambitions: it's a thunderous haymaker that only manages to graze its target." The review noted that the show takes on too much, and that much of the story could have been left for a second season.[7]

Many critics focused on the show's violence. Gavia Baker-Whitelaw of The Daily Dot wrote that the show seemed to use "the dystopian setting as an excuse for sexualized violence," and that the focus on dead, naked women's bodies "was a massive distraction from the show's stronger points, like the well-choreographed fight scenes and Takeshi Kovacs' backstory."[42] Digital Spy defended the level of violence, arguing it accurately reflected the books, and was "the point" of the franchise, as "without showing brutal, unremitting violence, Altered Carbon would fail to fully explore the dystopian reality it aims to present."[43] Kimberly Roots of TVLine also criticized the scenes of violence and nudity, and also said the story suffered from uneven pacing. However, she noted that the investigation part "clicks along smartly," and that the fight sequences were "sophisticated." She gave it a "B-" grade.[44]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2018 44th Saturn Awards Best New Media Television Series Altered Carbon Nominated [45]
70th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Main Title Design Lisa Bolan, Thomas McMahan, Yongsub Song, Byron Slaybaugh, Carlo Sa, Mert Kizilay Nominated [46]
Outstanding Special Visual Effects Everett Burrell, Tony Meagher, Joel Whist, Jorge Del Valle, Steve Moncur, Christine Lemon, Paul Jones, Antoine Moulineau, David Zaretti for "Out of the Past" Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Wagmeister, Elizabeth (January 20, 2016). "Netflix orders sci-fi drama based on Altered Carbon". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  2. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 20, 2016). "Netflix picks up futuristic sci-fi series Altered Carbon based on book". Variety. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Hibberd, James (December 4, 2017). "Altered Carbon: First teaser trailer for stunning Netflix sci-fi series". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Otterson, Joe (July 27, 2018). "'Altered Carbon' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix With Anthony Mackie in Lead Role". Variety. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  5. ^ Rowney, Jo-Anne (January 29, 2018). "What is Altered Carbon on Netflix UK? Release date, plot and cast in the TV adaptation of the R-rated novel". Daily Mirror. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  6. ^ Burton, Bonnie (January 12, 2018). "Netflix debuts trailer for cyberpunk series Altered Carbon". CNET. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Allen, Ben (January 26, 2018). "Netflix's Altered Carbon is an ambitious mess". Radio Times. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  8. ^ Shepherd, Jack (December 4, 2017). "Altered Carbon: Exclusive first look at Netflix's new dystopian sci-fi series release date revealed". The Independent. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Lee, Benjamin (February 1, 2018). "Altered Carbon review – ambitious Netflix sci-fi is flashy, flawed and fun". The Guardian. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Wagmeister, Elizabeth (May 12, 2016). "Joel Kinnaman to Star in Netflix Sci-Fi Series Altered Carbon". Variety. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d Andreeva, Nellie (August 4, 2016). "Altered Carbon: James Purefoy, Martha Higareda & 2 others cast in Netflix series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Petski, Denise (September 6, 2016). "Altered Carbon: Chris Conner & Ato Essandoh Cast In Netflix Series". Deadline.com. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
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  15. ^ a b Petski, Denise (September 12, 2016). "Altered Carbon: Marlene Forte & Trieu Tran Join Cast of Netflix Series". Deadline.com. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
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  23. ^ Debnath, Neela (June 29, 2018). "Altered Carbon season 2 spoilers: What will happen in the new series?". Daily Express. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  24. ^ Liptak, Andrew (February 3, 2018). "How Altered Carbon's costume designer created the fashions for its futuristic world". The Verge. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  25. ^ Wong, Tony (February 2, 2018). "Altered Carbon may be one of Netflix's most expensive shows yet, but is it any good?". The Star. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
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  37. ^ Kain, Erik (February 3, 2018). "The Critics Must Be Crazy: Altered Carbon Is A Terrific New Netflix Original". Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  38. ^ Tassi, Paul (February 5, 2018). "Netflix's Altered Carbon Is The Best Hard Sci-Fi Show On TV This Side Of 'Westworld'". Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
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  40. ^ Lloyd, Robert (February 2, 2018). "Netflix's Altered Carbon may be long and complicated, but it's good to have Joel Kinnaman back". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  41. ^ Chaney, Jen (February 2, 2018). "Altered Carbon Is an Over-Stacked Cyberpunk Mess". Vulture. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  42. ^ Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia (January 21, 2018). "The future is still sexist in Netflix's cyberpunk thriller Altered Carbon". The Daily Dot. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  43. ^ Pearson, Catherine (February 4, 2018). "Altered Carbon on Netflix is spectacularly violent – but is the bloodshed justified?". Digital Spy. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  44. ^ Roots, Kimberly (January 22, 2018). "Altered Carbon Review: Sci-Fi Drama Is Visually Stunning, Unevenly Paced". TVLine. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  45. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  46. ^ "Altered Carbon". Emmys.com. Retrieved July 22, 2018.

External links[edit]