Please note: the following review of Westworld episode one briefly requires knowledge of a major plot point from South Park season 20. You member South Park right? Oh I love South Park!!!
Please keep your hands and legs inside the cart at all times… and member to smile for the camera.
MEMBER BERRIES: “Member Chewbacca?”
MEMBER BERRIES: “Member Ghostbusters?”
YOU: “Yeah, uh-huh, that was great.”
MEMBER BERRIES: “Member the 1970’s cult sci-fi classic Westworld, set in a futuristic theme park where the robots went crazy and tried to kill all the guests?”
No, neither did I really, and I’ve got a big thing for 1970’s sci-fi (especially if it’s a future totalitarian dystopian state vision – they’re the best). But J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy do. Must be a special batch of Member Berries out there from a boutique Member Berry farm where some bearded hipster lets you pick your own.
Maybe he let them head out into the poison garden at the back of the lot and they found the juiciest of all the Member Berries sat on a vine, full of nostalgia so potent that it caused them to remember an obscure 1970’s sci-fi classic. They had to act. Nolan and Joy would write, and J.J. would give them some of that sweet ‘Star Wars’ money he’d hidden under the bed.
Westworld the TV series had me gripped from the start and in a world where rehashing stuff and putting a ‘twist’ on it seems to suffice for adaptation now, it is nice to see an authentically new take on the original source material.
In the original Westworld, Richard Benjamin had to escape from a robot gone haywire within a futuristic theme park where guests act out their frequently morally questionable fantasies of heading back to the Old West/Roman/Medieval period. It was ‘man against machine’. The new frontier of survival. However, this new version saddles us with the robots themselves and their plight of having to live within the confines of some of the more terrifying groundhog days that Bill Murray could ever imagine.
It’s an interesting comment on how we now see technology. Back in the 70s everything was going to turn us into ash or attempt to enslave us. Now that we’ve allowed the machines to take over, we’ve got to have something to show them which proves we’ve tried to be nice, or else face their wrath. Nolan and Joy have accidentally given us the best evidence to show at the New Nuremberg Trials of 3046 that we were OK really. Some of us tried to love you. Please overlords do not smite me as you have the others. I promise to take the item out of the bagging area.
What makes the latest version of ‘Westworld’ all the more terrifying is that with the 70s version you were safe. It was fantasy. In the up-to-date model you get the feeling that we’re not too far away from this being a documentary… 3D printing, sex robots and Google cardboard I’m looking at you.
I hate judging things just on first impressions. My mother said they mattered, but I find that everyone is too nice the first time you meet them and it’s a little creepy. I get the same feeling with pilot episodes. They’re too nice. They give me everything I want, compliment my hair and are super interesting. Also, in a world where I can binge away to my heart’s content on whatever Netflix are offering up, can I be bothered to arrange a second date to sit down with a show that *groan* arrives once a week?
Yes. Yes I can. Because Westworld is worth it. I’m going to spend the rest of the week basking in the odd sadistic pleasure of actually having to wait for each episode to come out and watch them in real time, with the adverts in the middle, so that I can see them as god intended.
The writing is superb. Everything drips in subtext, and as you bite into each line you find a gooey centre of metaphor which melts in your mouth. It’s smart, but not a know-it-all at the front of the class smart. Graphic, but not gratuitous. Odd, but not an oddball. Every character is given room to breathe and you feel that each one of them has been given considered attention in the writers’ room.
The acting is on point too. Hopkins brings Hannibal Lecter back to the screen, but this time with the omnipotence and responsibility of a divine creator who is perusing perfection. Perfection that brings with it the ‘sin’ of consciousness. Ed Harris gives you chills as The Man in Black filling the screen with malice and violence. And James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood are in the process of delivering us a romantic story arc which will be THE talking point around watercoolers and sentient coffee machines across the world.
I can’t wait for next week’s instalment already. Might go and find that Member Berry farm Nolan and Joy discovered.
MEMBER BERRIES: “Member Logan’s Run?”
ME: *relaxed sigh.*
For more wayward analysis of the small screen, check out our review of Wolf Creek Season One.