Hey Dude, Where’s My Universe?: Counterpart and Cloverfield

If you’re like me, then there’s hardly an alternate universe story that you don’t like, even if there are some scientific inaccuracies or plot holes (Lost in Space) and questionable production values (vintage Doctor Who). So, I’ve been keeping an eye out for such stories, especially new ones, and not, say, Star Trek Discovery’s new journeys into the “mirror” Universe (which aren’t bad, but I just want something new or new-ish).

If you like a good “evil duplicate” version of these tales, then perhaps the new Starz series, Counterpart (starring J.K. Simmons) is for you. What’s particularly new and interesting about this well-worn sci-fi trope is the level of interaction between Simmons as his character from “our” Universe interacting with his counterpart. In past series and films, it was particularly difficult to pull this off, either because it relied on too much interaction with a not-so-convincing body double, or too many cuts between a shot on just the face of the actor as character from our Universe and actor as the character from the other. Now, with more modern computer-aided editing, Simmons can actually talk to himself and really seem like he is actually interacting with someone who looks like him, but isn’t really him. I won’t give away the plot, and I haven’t even caught up yet…but from an acting point of view, it seems solid, even if the general story seems a bit derivative of , say, the relatively recent alternate Universe story of Fringe.

If you like sci fi/horror blends of the Alien variety, then Netflix’s new offering, The Cloverfield Paradox is the trip to a new dimension story for you. Essentially an accident with a new energy source on a space station sends the station into an alternate Universe where mayhem ensues. Monsters from another dimension may not exactly be new either, but I think it works as a prequel to Cloverfield (the earlier work is far superior, but there you go.)

And don’t forget that you could read more about parallel universes and other sci-fi tropes in Physics and Astronomy of Science Fiction by Steven D. Bloom. You can get at your favorite online bookstore in print or electronic form.


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