Displaying items by tag: Debris

Why NBCU Should Renew 'Debris' (And Move It To Peacock)

17 May, 2021

On Monday, CBS announced it is moving the supernatural thriller Evil to its sister streaming service Paramount+, the third CBS show set to make that move for the upcoming season. There are several factors that led to that decision, but a primary reason is that not only is the broadcast television audience getting smaller - it's getting less ambitious in its viewing habits. In the same way the market for compact discs is over-50 consumers looking for new titles from their favorite classic rockers, broadcast television is increasingly focusing on safe schedules full of predictable spin-offs and premises. 

In this environment, it's tougher than ever for a complex, mythology-driven drama to find an audience. Audiences don't want to invest the time and to be honest, the broadcast networks often struggle to promote shows that have multi-layered story elements. Moving slightly eccentric shows such as Evil and Clarice to a streaming service makes a lot of sense. And I think you're are going to see other networks making a similar calculation.

Which brings us to NBC's Debris, a science fiction series that over the course of its first season has developed into a clever, complex drama full of unexpected turns and real emotional payoffs. And like most mythology-heavy shows on broadcast television in recent years, it has struggled to find an audience.

Created by showrunner J.H. Wyman, here is how NBC describes the series:

When wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft scatters across the Western Hemisphere, it soon becomes apparent the pieces are messing with the laws of physics, changing lives in ways we can’t comprehend. Two agents from different continents, and different mindsets, are tasked to work together to recover the debris, whose mysteries humankind is not quite ready for.

While the logline doesn't exactly fill the reader with a strong need to watch the series, the show has made its case for survival each and every week. The concept of the debris unpredictably affecting everything from time to the physical properties of the world is just batshit enough to seem somewhat possible while still feeling insane and unpredictable. And while it took me a couple of weeks to warm to the unsettling chemistry of leads of Jonathan Tucker (playing Bryan Beneventi) and Riann Steele (as Finola Jones), the duo have managed to find that sweet spot which allows the humanity and personal lives of their characters to breath in a show that could easily become nothing but a typical "monster-of-the-week" knock-off of The X-Files.

But the nuance and inventiveness of Debris also makes it a difficult show to love.  It's not one of those shows that you can just lean back and half watch while you're finishing off the latest Sudoku puzzle. You need to actively watch the episodes and absorb some of the evolving mythology. All of which makes Debris an unlikely candidate for survival on broadcast television in 2021.

There is an option for the series that makes much better sense for the show and that also answers the question often asked by network executives in this type of situation: "what value will renewing this show bring to our business and bottom line?" And the answer lies with NBCU's streaming service Peacock.

Fans of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist are already pushing for the show to make the move to Peacock, because it is a series that creatively feels very similar to shows such as Peacock's critically-acclaimed Girls5Eva. There's a proven audience for shows such as Zoey's on Peacock and the series is well-regarded enough by audiences to make the decision nearly a slam dunk.

On the other hand, Peacock hasn't had much success with science fiction-oriented programming such as Brave New World and Intergalactic, which have received some positive press but not much buzz from audiences. It's tough to coax new viewers into a relatively new streamer and what Debris would bring to Peacock is a solid ensemble and clever premise combined with a season full of episodes that most people haven't seen. The show lends itself to bingeing and if it's properly done, the summer could be spent getting subscribers ready for the new season. The best chance for Peacock to develop successes in the science fiction genre is with a series that people might have heard of even if they haven't seen it yet. Debris fits the bill and it certainly seems to have enough creative legs to provide multiple seasons of action to a streamer that desperately needs it.

Debris deserves a second season and Peacock is the best place to make that happen.

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Show Guide: 'Debris'

28 May, 2021


The Cast:
Riann Steele as Agent Finola Jones
Jonathan Tucker as Agent Bryan Beneventi
Norbert Leo Butz as Agent Craig Maddox
Scroobius Pip as Anson Ash
Tyrone Benskin as George Jones
Anjali Jay as Agent Priya Ferris
Gabrielle Ryan as Dee Jones
Sebastian Roché as Agent Brill

Production Credits:

The Episodes:
Season One Episode Guide (NBC)
1-01 Pilot--03/01/2021

1-02 You Are Not Alone--03/08/2021

1-03 Solar Winds--03/15/2021

1-04 In Universe--03/22/2021

1-05 Earthshine--03/29/2021

1-06 Supernova--04/05/2021

1-07 You Can Call Her Caroline--04/12/2021

1-08 Spaceman--04/19/2021

1-09 Do You Know Icarus?--04/26/2021

1-10 I Am Icarus--05/03/2021

1-11 Asalah--05/10/2021

1-12 A Message From Ground Control--05/17/2021

1-13 Celestial Body--05/24/2021

'Debris' Recap: In Universe - 03/22/2021

23 March, 2021

It's time for another episode of Debris and while we might not be the biggest group of viewers on television, we are certainly getting a wild ride this season.

Tonight's episode is entitled "In Universe" and it starts on a farm. It's raining and a man in an office-type area is working when he hears a wind begin to blow. The wind blows out the fire in his stove and then he begins to cough violently. He seems to recover, but he can hear other farmworkers outside beginning to cough. It is pouring rain, but he goes out to investigate and doesn't see anyone else. But the rain seems to have done something to his corn field. The corn is dying, but some sort of buds seem to be growing on the withered stalks. He walks through the field and when he gets to the far edge he notices the rain ends at the edge of his field. On the other side, it's clear and sunny. But when he walks into the sun, he begins to cough again and collapses on the ground as some sort of infection/creepy rash spreads across his face.

Bryan and Finola are on the road. Bryan comes back to their parked car from a convenience store sporting flashy sunglasses and slurping on an Icee. He also forgot to bring Finola's water. They're on their way to Maxwell, Nebraska  and they're chasing the latest debris sighting. According to reports, the debris landed at 2:45 am and 15 minutes later, the rain began. It's still raining, although only in an area about 1/4 of a mile across. Finola says it's been classified as a "level 3," whatever that means. 

As a side note, can I mention that an unsettling number of these debris sightings seem to be happening in rural places? I suppose from a budgetary and writing standpoint, it's easier to have a debris event take place somewhere that is relatively deserted. But still, it would be interesting to see them try and smooth over a debris event that took out an artisanal coffee shop in Brooklyn

When Bryan and Finola arrive, they learn three people have died. All three left the area where it was raining. Investigators believe there are about 30 migrant workers living on the farm who are still inside the rain zone. The three dead men seemed to have died from some sort of type of asphyxiation. Whatever they were breathing killed them and damaged their lungs. But why hasn't it affected the people inside the rain and why isn't it now affecting the investigation team?

Bryan and Finola walk towards the rain dressed in what look to be surplus astronaut suits from adult space camp. They slowly make their way through the corn field and the stalks are now randomly sporting bright blue flowers. They find the migrant workers inside a large building used to grow plants. The workers tell them they woke up in the morning coughing and feeling sick. But that has passed and now they feel okay, although they are obviously scared. But one woman asks Bryan and Finola if they had seen her 8-year-old son Arturo. The mother says he was very scared when everything started and although some of the group tried to find him, they didn't have any luck. 

The group also tells Bryan that some of them woke up last night when they heard the wind and some mysterious rustling. They then heard a loud boom and when some of the workers tried to leave, their cars wouldn't start. The workers that tried to leave the rain zone died, which leads Finola to suspect that the workers bodies have been changed in a way that makes normal air poisonous. Bryan goes to search the fields for debris while Finola sends in teams to retrieve and quarantine the workers and search for the missing boy.

Bryan finds a large, jagged piece of debris buried in a clearing in the field. He also spots the missing boy as well as a group of dead workers scattered near some tractors. He returns Arturo to his mother but there still aren't any answers to what might be going on with the debris.

Back in Langley, Virginia, Maddox is at home doing exercises with his son Dario. It isn't clear what the problem might be with his son, but Dario is struggling to remember left from right and appears to have trouble thinking clearly. He stops when a phone rings and while it appears at first to be his phone, it turns out to be his wife's. The person hangs up and she walks in as he's staring at the phone. She tells him that she wouldn't answer his phone and when he says "It was an unknown caller, it was weird, she tells him that "not everything is a conspiracy." Which makes me think that the phone call was probably one that she was trying to hide. Their interaction also illustrates that their marriage isn't ideal at the moment. 

At the farm, Finola has to deal with a young man who drove around the roadblocks and showed up near the farm trying to get into the zone. He tells her he has family living on the farm and demands to know what is going on. His name is Efrain Munoz and he is the distribution manager for the farm. He was traveling for several days and is worried about. He's worried about his brother's wife and children, and it happens to be Arturo and his mother. Efraim tells Finola his brother died about a year ago.

Later, Finola is dictating her report and says that samples of plants from the zone aren't showing signs of photosynthesis. Instead, they are doing a similar process that creates chlorine instead of oxygen. The atmosphere in the zone is nearly 45% chlorine with almost no oxygen. That suggests that the piece of debris might be creating a chlorine-based ecology, essentially terraforming that half mile of land. But if the people inside the zone can no longer breathe oxygen, what happens when the team removes the debris? But that's a problem for later. A more pressing issue is that the storm is growing and it might be time to evacuate the county.

A bit desperate to understand what is happening, Finola convinces Efrain to give some blood. She is hoping that by comparing his DNA to his nephew's, she can figure out how the rain is altering the bodies of the people trapped inside the zone. Bryan and Finola then put their suits back on and go into the zone to get a sample of Arturo's blood. In order to relax him, Bryan gives Arturo his flashy sunglasses. He tells Arturo they are the "glasses of a king and kings aren't afraid, they rule."

A guy named Beck from Emergency Containment arrives at the farm and tells Bryan and Finola that he is there to retrieve the debris and turn it off as quickly as possible, The zone has just spread another 200 yards and the danger is immediate for everyone. But if the debris is turned off, what will happen to the farm workers? Finola wants to find a way to save them, but Bryan tells her that he understands her feelings. But they can't wait to take action and if they don't do something quickly, many more people could be in danger.

Finola is struggling to find an answer, but the lab results only make things worse. The bodies of the people inside the zone have been permanently altered and one of the scientists at the mobile lab tells her that the science to reverse the condition is so outside the current scientific understanding that a solution could be decades away. I'm assuming the show will figure out a way to save the workers, but there aren't any easy answers that I can see.

At the debris site, Bryan is helping Beck shut down the energy from the debris. Beck asks Bryan "Do you ever think of Julian?" Bryan tells him that it's hard not to do that and that "things were a lot simpler then." We don't know who Julian is, but I suspect this is part of the backstory Bryan has been keeping from Finola. Bryan asks Beck why he's bringing up Julian. Beck tells him that people say Finola has heart. He reminds Bryan that Julian had heart as well and that was what got him killed. Bryan responds that Julian went out the way that he wanted to and that he was a hero. "That's easy for you to say," says Beck. "But I'm the one who had to tell his wife." Bryan asks Beck what point he is trying to make by bringing up all of this now. "Just be careful," warns Beck. "Don't let her bring you down."

Back at the lab, Finola suddenly remembers something and asks the scientist if she remembers debris piece 489. The scientist warns Finola she may be reaching and that while that particular debris piece did undergo extensive testing, it's never been tested on humans. Finola insists that it is worth a try and that she had heard they were considering testing the effects from debris piece 489 on terminal cancer patients. Finola then finds Bryan and tells him that debris piece 489 is one that was found several years previously in the Rockies. It places organisms in suspended animation and could be used to place the farm workers in suspended animation until scientists can figure out a cure. He resists the idea, but she tells him that Maddox has already approved the idea and the piece is headed to the site.

Finola then tells Bryan that she is going to tell Efrain what is happening and when he asks why she would do that, she explains that she believes everyone has the right to know what happened to the ones they love. Oooo subtext about her father and the things she doesn't know about his current state of being not dead. "That is not our job," he reminds her. "We are supposed to be blips in these peoples lives. Not memories." Ultimately, she decides not to tell Efrain anything other than his family is okay and that he will be tested and then sent back to the city. He begs her to let him see them one last time, but she walks out of the room.

Debris piece 489 arrives at the site the following morning but before anything can happen, Finola receives a call from her boss at MI-6. She's told that her father may be alive, news that Bryan and the Americans already knew. There are reports that a man who matches the description of Finola's father is being held by Influx, but there aren't a lot of details. Given that Finola sat her dead father's bedside at the morgue, she doesn't believe it. But given everything else she's seen, could it be true? But as shocking to Finola is the news that the Americans had known for a long time and that Bryan had been hiding the truth for her. Finola is also warned not to let Bryan and the Americans know that she and the British have learned the truth about her father.

This secret is the part of the show I've liked least so far. It was predictable and of course it was going to come out and impact the relationship between Finola and Bryan. In a show with so many unexpected twists, the handling of this secret was a misstep.

After she learns the truth, Finola finds Efrain and tells him the truth. When he asks her why she is doing that, she tells him that she would want to know so that she could make her own decision. She frees Efrain and he runs into the rain so he can stay with his family as they go into suspended animation. The agents wheel debris piece 489 into the building with the farm workers and when it is powered up it puts them all into what looks like a shiny, glittering shell of suspended animation. Once that happens, the team turns off the piece of debris in the field and the rain clears away from the farm.

Back at the mobile base, Bryan asks Finola why she let Efrain join his family in suspended animation. "I don't think you'll ever understand," she tells him and walks away. 

Next week's episode is entitled "Earthshine," and official logline is "INFLUX steps out from the shadows, weaponizing the debris in a terrifying experiment. Finola struggles to keep her newfound knowledge from affecting her work."

See you then!

First Look: 'Debris'

26 January, 2021

On Tuesday, NBC announced that their new science fiction drama Debris will premiere on Monday, March 1st, 2021. 

The series was created by J.H. Wyman, who will also serve as the showrunner. The cast includes Jonathan Tucker, Riann Steele, Norbert Leo Butz and Scroobius Pip.

Here is the official logline of Debris:

When wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft scatters across the Western Hemisphere, it soon becomes apparent the pieces are messing with the laws of physics, changing lives in ways we can’t comprehend. Two agents from different continents, and different mindsets, are tasked to work together to recover the debris, whose mysteries humankind is not quite ready for.