Solos had everything to be one of the strongest series of the year. For example, a list of those that do not usually come together for this class of products.
Here they are, to carry, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren (no less than three Oscar winners), Anthony Mackie (I mean Falcon, one of the Avengers) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), in addition to Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) and Constance Wu (Hustlers).
Those stars also have half an hour at their disposal, since five of the seven chapters are built around a monologue that takes place in the future – closer than we think – hypertechnologized and full of loneliness. In one of the episodes (“Sasha” with Oduba) a pandemic and the control and paranoia it generates in an isolated woman are directly mentioned. It’s frightening.
Solos was created and written by David Weil, who also released for Amazon last year, Hunters, a series produced by Jordan Peele with Al Pacino like a Jew turned Nazi hunter. It is a good precedent and here Weil also directs some episodes.
However, with that potential, the set does not work at the expected level. They are seven independent stories but with a direct link. There is a general gear that is only revealed in the last chapter, in which Stevens and Freeman share the scene, who also makes a brief introduction in off in each installment. That will also be explained.
The title Solos, although it also has an explanation near the end, can refer to the one-person separation of the series in which actors are at their own pace and to show off. It has a theatrical tone that, as it happens, tends to exaggeration. Anyway, they are all very well and at the height of what is expected of them. They are the main attraction of the proposal.
Solos is very close (many will say very close) to Black Mirror, Netflix and Weil’s futuristic series doesn’t do much to avoid suspicion. It never reaches that standard, nor does it achieve the same commitment.
It’s more of a theatrical drama packed with sad stories and peppered with a few technological nods. He also has not a hint of humor, nor any of the sarcasm of Black Mirror and his sci-fi aspiration is more of a setting than a reflection on something.
The stories, thus, are limited to the soliloquies of a group of characters suffering from physical, family or philosophical pain.
In the first, Hathaway is a scientist who tries to travel through time from a basement while dealing with a sick mother and ends up talking to her past and future selves. In the second, Mackie is a terminally ill person who tells details of his life to the clone who will replace him and – with the most explicit of the links between the stories – in the third Helen Mirren is his daughter, now elderly and regretful of some decisions of his life traveling to the stars in an experiment with no return.
Wu is at the center of the best episode (the fifth, “Jenny”) in which she plays a woman who tells a sad anecdote in an ominous situation. Wu is doing very well in the most demanding role.
Closer to The Twilight Zone, “Nera” (played by Nicole Beharie) is a pregnant woman who gives birth in the middle of a storm. The baby grows faster than expected and becomes a serious threat. The ending is haunting.
The closing of the season is done by Stevens and Freeman in a chapter that supposedly should explain everything and leaves more than one question.
Maybe Solos wants to be more of an experiment than a series can be in times like these. But in that sense, it is more challenging and interesting. Calls, the work of the Uruguayan Faith Alvarez for AppleTV.