Charlie Jade - an Intriguing SF ShowOccasionally, when I have down time (waiting as I am now for comments back on outlines and articles), I'll see what oddness is on the Sci-Fi channel. And today it's a show called Charlie Jade, a series about a detective trapped in a parallel universe. The concept is interesting enough, but the execution is marvelous and quite unlike what you will see in American television -- perhaps because it is a coproduction of Canadian and South African media companies. Largely filmed in South Africa, it has an unselfconscious multiracial casting that is unlike most of what I see in the U.S. There are no "quirky" or specifically "ethnic" characters that become a calculated faux representationalism. On one hand, society collectively pretends that filling the quotas is the same as being unbiased.
At the same time, there is a sense of the other meaning of representationalism, a philosophical approach in which the mind is said to actually perceive representations of objects and not the objects themselves. (In contrast to the Socratic concept of the ideal and human perception of shadows of representations of reality.) I find it interesting that South Africa can appear to have, at least in terms of entertainment, a far more relaxed attitude.
But forget the social musings for a moment. This is also a gorgeously and intelligently filmed series. The angles and approaches to lighting are far different than you find here. For example, in many dramatic series, harshly blown out highlights from powerful overhead lighting, ala The West Wing or the newest Battlestar Galactica, has become de rigeur.
In Charlie Jade, there is an impressive use of color and filming technique. Using two different palettes, one of muted cools and the other of muted warms (not quite as harsh as, but similar to the color cast you get when using tungsten-balanced film outside and daylight-balanced inside), they set up contrasting worlds. The lighting doesn't call as much attention to itself but still underscores the tone of the story telling.
Apparently there was only one season filmed, though a second is written and ready for production. Hopefully someone will fund it -- and maybe some U.S. production companies will pay attention and start thinking differently about how they approach the medium. It's time to shake up the predictable.