Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Plot: A physics experiment inadvertently sends four teenage friends into parallel worlds.
Review: Disney+ is where I go for my Marvel Cinematic Universe content, my Star Wars series and the occasional Disney original film, but it is not my go-to streaming service for science fiction. Well that may be changing if they keep dropping shows like French sci fi series Parallels.
In a sleepy, wintry French town we have four high school friends—responsible Sam (Thomas Chomel), his mischievous younger brother Victor (Maxime Bergeron), caring Romane, his love interest (Victoria Eber), and nerdy Bilal, his best friend (Timoté Rigault). The group heads to an abandoned bunker to celebrate Bilal’s birthday. But then a test of an experimental particle collider involving Bilal’s mother Sofia (Naidra Ayadi) splits the group up into different parallel worlds. This kicks off a tale involving time travel, alternate versions of the characters and even superpowers. To say any more would get into spoiler territory and I’m keeping this one spoiler free.
The show Parallels reminded the most of is Netflix’s German Sci Fi drama Dark. And seeing that Dark won Rotten Tomatoes poll for greatest Netflix original show, was named my top time travel TV series and is a personal favourite, that is a very good thing for Parallels. Sure, the YA Disney show is not as mature, complex or as dang near perfect as Dark but they do share a relatively grounded approach to its Sci Fi elements, feature intriguing mysteries, and do good work in interweaving their multiple timelines and alternate versions of characters.
And Parallels’ cast of characters is one of their strong points. Each of the teenagers are well fleshed out and likeable. Each has their own struggles and interesting arcs. And thankfully the series mostly avoids the cringe-inducing aspects usually found in American YA content. The supporting cast also put in solid work, and my favourite character is actually Bilal’s scientist mother Sofia. She is whip smart, thoughtful and brings a lot of energy to the series. In terms of story the writers Anastasia Heinzl and Quoc Dang Tran (who also created the series) do commendable work in building the mystery, revealing just enough each episode to keep the viewer hooked. That story eventually introduces superpowers and gets a bit into the territory of 2012’s Chronicle. This aspect is something of a mixed bag, as neither the explanation nor the execution is completely satisfactory.
So while it is not up to the lofty standard of Dark, Parallels is still a very strong series that should appeal both to casual viewers and Sci fi fans. And with the open ended ending of the six episode first season I would love to time travel to the start of (a possible) season two.
Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10
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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.