Coincidences have meant that in just one week two realistic science fiction dramas in which nature has a lot to do with it have been released in our country. A few days before Apple TV+ premiered the “semi-anthology” ‘A challenging future’, it landed in Spain the first episode of ‘The fifth day’ (Der Schwarm) on Movistar Plus+.
There is a dialogue that makes the idea behind this series quite explicit. In it, an astrophysicist tells a cetologist who is said to We know the mysteries of the universe better than what is in the depths of the sea. A phrase that quite frames what we are going to find in this German drama based on the homonymous book by Frank Schätzing.
And it is that the great threat to the Earth It’s some sort of ocean rebellion. Throughout its first episodes we witness anomalous events: whales that destroy tourist boats, lobsters that expel a deadly poison, rocks of frozen methane that rise to the surface too frequently, or a new species of ice worm that seems to grow at an alarming rate.
keeping it believable
A quite powerful premise and so feasible that it is even scary. In fact, one of the maxims that the creators of the series had is to keep everything as credible as possible to raise as much awareness as possible about how we are treating the oceans. For this they had the presence and advice of the marine biologist Antje Boetius.
Although its overwhelming dose of reality is the main asset of ‘The fifth day’, the pity of the series is that fails to reach full potential. It is true that it works quite well when he decides to embrace his ocean horror side but one gets the feeling that there are many more skippers than sailors both in the script and in the production.
Both the circumstances of being an international co-production with half a dozen European television channels and have a script written by ten hands (Frank Schätzing, Steven Lally, Marissa Lestrade, Michael A. Walker and Chris Lunt) and having around twenty executive producers weigh down the fiction quite a bit, executing something lacking in cohesion and even interest.
The footage is full of curious decisions such as the use of languages (we navigate between German, French and, mostly, English) with scenes that remain strange, such as a conversation between a mother and her children in which suddenly the language is changed without apparent justification. A certain tendency to overexposure that takes away some of the emotion from what we see does not help either.
But the most interesting thing in ‘The fifth day’ is found in that allegation derived from the ecothriller in which the series is framed. As with other series of this cut, its best asset is to present us with a possibility so realistic that it overwhelms us.
A question that arouses, of course, a lot of interest and, in fact, its broadcast on the German ZDF was a record for the chain, accumulating 18 million views in streaming and an average of 5.5 million viewers in its television broadcast. It is definitely one of the first big hits on European television in 2023.
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