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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Threshold: The Complete Series (review)

It’s impossible to understand how this deeply fascinating science-fiction suspense series could have failed in a television environment where Lost and CSI are huge hits… except that it seems to have been deliberately set up to fail with its kiss-of-death Friday-night timeslot on last autumn’s CBS schedule. Now that it’s on DVD, all of us who never had a chance to catch it in primetime can see what we missed… and lament that we’ll probably never see the rest of its riveting story told. Smart, subtle, provocative, thoroughly absorbing, these 12 episodes — four of which never even aired — combine a bit of Lost’s what-the-hell-is-going-on precariousness with some of CSI’s nerdy-cool forsenic chic and a big dose of Homeland Security-era paranoia to become what could have been the true successor to The X-Files, if it had been allowed to find an audience. Carla Gugino leads an astonishingly clever cast — including Brent Spiner, Charles Dutton, Diane Venora, the totally worshippable Peter Dinklage, and others — as the strategist behind Threshold, a supersecret government project investigating the arrival of an alien… something… that is so incomprehensibly, well, alien that no one can even figure out what the hell it is or what its intentions are. Is it a ship? Is it a communication device? Is it the opening salvo in war for dominion over all life on Earth? If it isn’t, why is it radically altering the DNA of every living Earth creature it comes in contact with? It’s thrilling to see a network show take on a concept so utterly science fictional — beings not of Earth that are really and truly alien — but even better is how the creative team, which includes vets of everything from Star Trek to Harry Potter, make it all so fresh and relevant. The show is brilliant enough even if you want to view it only for what it is on the surface, but look deeper in the metaphors about facing unconventional enemies, balancing freedom and safety, and what constitutes the boundaries of duty to one’s country, and it’s downright genius. Extras include deleted scenes, featurettes, and commentaries on select episodes.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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  • This sounds like another genius show cut off in it’s prime which is sadly reminiscent of “Firefly.” Also like Firefly, it did not cross my radar while on TV. Your review has peaked my interest, and I’ll be checking it out at Netflix.

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