Television

Debris

NBC’s Debris Will Be The Next X-Files, Or Fringe Everyone Will Be Talking About

Debris is a fast-paced addition to the extraterrestrial subgenre with quality performances and slick production. NBC will have two puzzle box hits on its hands.

Science fiction one-offs are a dime a dozen. It’s hard to get too excited about the newest show because so many fall off after just one season(RIP Reverie). Debris looks poised to buck that trend. Show creator and writer J.H. Wyman has taken the best of what works and jettisoned the rest. Formulas work. We love creepy space stuff, bizarre hard science that is fuzzy at best, and cynical television cops. Debris uses the time-honored law enforcement partners that don’t quite trust each other and aliens to whip up a surprising good hour of prestige television. Just because the odd couple trope is familiar doesn’t mean Wyman is taking shortcuts. Debris is not a rip-off of X-Files. This is an entirely new beast with razor-sharp claws. It will be the runaway hit of the season. The synopsis from NBC reads:

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.

CIA agent Bryan Benventi, Jonathon Tucker of a slew of excellent genre programming including Hulu’s Monsterland, and MI6 agent Finola Jones portrayed by Riann Steele who has appeared in The Magicians and the indy film The Creeping are reluctant partners. He has been on this job long enough to be unaffected by everything he sees She comes with a prestigious last name that is as much a hindrance as a benefit. These two agents must work together to track down the physics-altering artifacts scattered all over the world. Both Tucker and Steele are believably earnest and exasperated. There is nothing contrived about their performances.

Like some of the scariest X-Files episodes, rural America is a jumping-off point. If you think you know where Debris is going, you don’t. Just in the first fifteen minutes of the pilot made available for review, the show took multiple hard right turns. The pilot is eerie and atmospheric. It sets up a series-long arc that rings of a terrifying Warehouse 13. Many science fiction series forget sci-fi is intriguing because what we don’t know can hurt us.

The human element among the science is where series succeed. The world of Debris is poised to either have a tremendous breakthrough or end. For that to matter, we have to care. Tucker and Steele manage to make that happen in the first thirty minutes. Like thoughtful Arrival or horrifying Annihilation, what our agents must safeguard is life-changing. Debris leans all the way into that territory with abandon. It has Fringe’s look and feel, but with the edgy weirdness of The OA. Combining arresting visuals with engaging storylines, Debris can’t miss.

For those looking for their next sci-fi hit, Debris will satisfy that itch. The series is simultaneously familiar and fresh with just enough creep factor for the most avid fan. It is well written, precisely paced, and decidedly creepy. This will be the series everyone is talking about. Coupled with cool puzzler Manifest, NBC has taken the top genre television spot. It will have another hit when it premiers on March 1st, 2021. Watch the trailer here while you wait for Debris to rain down.

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