It has become increasingly harder for TV shows to stand out in this online streaming, competitive television era, but Dark is an exception. In the little town of Winden (located in Kallinchen, near Berlin) two boys go missing and upset an already fragile balance within the community, revealing the existence of a wormhole beneath the local nuclear power plant.
This show has the same premise of Stranger Things but a completely different tone. The same choral cast and mysterious narrative of Lost but a more refined approach. It recalls other famous movies like Back To the Future (November 12 is no coincidence) and Donnie Darko (time travels and Mikkel’s skeleton costume). Moreover it’s one of the European Netflix offerings (together with the Spanish La Casa de Papel) that have turned into instant successes.
Without giving away the plot – which is by far the most innovative piece of the puzzle – something else can explain the size of this unforeseen yet upstanding effort. The ability to handle complexity. First of all, narrative (if you get lost while watching, this page might help). Without even mentioning all the philosophical and biblical relations within the show – Adam and Eve, triquetra and determinism among the rest – the plot is just as solid and polyhedric as the characters. Each season raises drama without losing momentum, building up to an ending that’s more surprising and logical than expected.
The visuals are on the same level. Baran bo Odar (director and creator with Jantje Friese) and Nikolaus Summerer (cinematographer) work to make every frame of the show polished and somber, with a suffocating environment that intensifies a general sense of anxiety. The editing is unsettling, magnetic and slow but never drags, and it builds up suspense in the same functional way. This also happens for the experimental sound design, produced by Ben Frost.
Although it might put off audiences who don’t like sci-fi, time paradox and a lot of brain work, Dark is an exception and a rare example of how creative style and complexity in television are still deal-breakers.