CT REVIEW: Feedback loop - Attempting to critique Netflix's Dark

Lead characters Jonas (Louis Hofmann) and Martha (Lisa Vicari)
Lead characters Jonas (Louis Hofmann) and Martha (Lisa Vicari)

Bafflingly brilliant, this subdued time travel head twister is one for the ages

By David Light

Published: Mon 20 Jul 2020, 4:36 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Jul 2020, 8:23 PM

DESPITE BEING ONE of the greatest sci-fi genres, inexplicably time travel stories have a tendency to be more 'miss' than 'Quantum Leap'. We're sure Wells and Verbinski wouldn't mind turning back the clock to redo 2002's The Time Machine, and the less said about Time Under Fire (1997) the better. To witness the stars align and produce something approaching the field's Holy Grail: Back To The Future - takes almost as much skill and precision as actually constructing a flying DeLorean. It is a subject, which perhaps better lends itself to a continuing series whose success rates consistently outdo the silver screen competition. Take the often-overlooked masterpiece Crime Traveller (1997). Is the premise merely Timecop (1994) sans Jean-Claude Van Damme's dodgy American accent? Of course. Does the BBC drama benefit from being allowed to evolve over eight 50-minute episodes? Undoubtedly.
The length of German effort Dark, whose third and final season just dropped on Netflix, certainly plays in its favour. 26 outings of an hour each (average) permits plot complexity the likes of which we have rarely come across in a modern show. Airing on non-commercial television also encourages a far more intellectually rigorous exploration of scientific theory. To simply call Dark an exercise in pleasing amateur physicists, however, would be dead wrong. At its core is, as with any decent tale: love. Love for one's children, partner and parents spans the generations and is the driving force behind the protagonists' trips through the ages.

To divulge a synopsis of the full three-season arc would be virtually impossible. We're not quite sure how the six writers even managed to put them down on the page. All you need to know is the action begins in the fictional German town of Winden at the end of 2019. The local nuclear reactor, a reason for the settlement's expansion since the '50s, is due for decommission. A child's disappearance mirrors an incident that took place in 1986. When the abducted boy from 33 years previous turns up dead in the forest - unaged and in the same pristine '80s clothes - a sinister scheme centering on a wormhole under the power plant begins to unfold. The town's inhabitants discover their municipal history and even family trees are far more convoluted than ever could be imagined.
In a nutshell: Stranger Things, meets The Killing, meets Looper. 
Our rating: 4.5/5. You'll most likely be reading the subtitles, which is good because taking your eyes off this epic for a second would be unforgivable.     

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