Spoiler Alert: This story contains spoilers for Amazon’s Upload.
Social distancing measures may be lifting gradually, however, the cold snap in weather has called for cosy Sunday’s snuggled under the covers in bed.
While getting out and exercising is a great way to spend a morning, watching an intelligent and exciting new TV series is also the perfect way to spend a weekend in.
Enter Amazon’s Upload — a genius comedy by the creators of The Office, starring Robbie Amell (Code 8) and Andy Allo (Chicago Fire).
The story is set in the near future where people who are near death can be ‘uploaded’ into virtual reality environments. Cash-strapped Nora (Allo) works customer service for the luxurious ‘Lakeview’ digital afterlife. When party-boy and coder Nathan’s (Amell) car crashes, his girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) uploads him into Nora’s VR world.
“We could be together forever!” Ingrid says as he’s being wheeled away to surgery.
“Forever is just soooo long,” Nathan says, but ultimately chooses to be uploaded.
The series is smart, funny and heartwarming and explores the ever-changing (and somewhat frightening) future of the technological age.
Highlighting immortality and what is the perfect “heaven” afterlife, it’s a mash-up between The Good Place and Netflix’s dark series Black Mirror — and even though it seems very far-fetched, at the rate our technology advances, could be here before you know it.
The series also looks at the hierarchy of capital structure, a structure which never seems to disparate, dictating the order of importance when it comes to who gets to go where.
Lakeview is expensive. It’s a hotel with a concierge (Owen Daniels) who multiplies, extensive breakfast buffet, mini-bar of anything you could possibly imagine (including famous fast-food options) and many more “in-app purchases”. It’s great if you have the money, but not everyone does.
On the flip-side, there’s the “2GB” area, where uploads are relegated to a life of 2gb per month. Think too hard and there goes some of your “mb”. Food is leftover and discarded Lean Cuisine ideas and the rooms are reminiscent of a jail cell. Frankly, it’s hell. But some would rather pay for their loved ones to be “alive” then to not have them at all.
The series is also clever in its effects.
VFX supervisor Marshall Krasser had the complex task of creating a world where the incredible effects didn’t detract from the storyline.
There are self-driving cars, holographic wrist phones and a robot which served as a cashier in a convenience store. All digital effects.
“Everything we did was to help sell the future,” Krasser told publication Ars Technica during an interview.
For the holographic phone scenes, the actor would keep their hand in position, which, according to Krasser is “probably uncomfortable for that long period of time.”
“Then we would lock it in, track it, and add it in digitally.”
Scenes that added effects (like when Nathan is pulled over by a LA traffic cop drone), were all shot on green screen and the team even looked up city construction plans for the future to create their depictions.
The scenes of the afterlife were designed to seem a little off, especially touching on the fact that technology is forever changing.
According to Krasser, showrunner Greg Daniels “wanted to establish the idea that the real world now was a dirty, gritty place, whereas the afterlife was a beautiful place where things are clean, crisp, and worry-free.”
It’s all exceptionally clever and addictive viewing.
The entire season is easily watched in one sitting with each of the ten episodes approximately 30-40 minutes long.
And while I don’t think I’d like to be uploaded anytime soon, the series is charming and fun. The perfect weekend watch.
Upload is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
WATCH: The official trailer for Amazon Prime Video’s Upload.