TV REVIEW: Upload, Season 1

-minor spoilers-

Starring: Robbie Amell, Andy Allo, Zainab Johnson, Kevin Bigley, Allegra Edwards

Episodes: 10

Genre: Cyberpunk/Romantic Comedy

Broadcaster: Amazon Prime

First Aired: 01/05/2020

Verdict: 4/5

Upload is a new series in which someone dies and finds themselves in a bizarre afterlife in which they don’t belong. But don’t make the mistake of assuming this will be another The Good Place, because Upload is a very different creature. Here the afterlife is rooted in human technology, with the wealthy able to upload their minds to a digital space upon death. Or, if you’re Nathan Brown and you die in a car crash, you can be uploaded by your wealthy girlfriend.

Upload sits in a TV genre I don’t often enjoy, and that is the comedy drama. Comedy within a drama usually works because real people tell jokes and funny things can happen to the most serious people. The opposite, however, is rarely a strue. When characters spend 90% of their time cracking jokes and being laughed at/with, it’s hard for the 10% where they deal with serious matters to be truly dramatic. This is why I don’t rate Scrubs as highly as others, and why I generally prefer my comedies to be pure comedies. Upload falls into this trap a few times. There’s a mystery at its core, but the show is at its best when it’s making you laugh. That being said, it does strike a better drama-comedy balance than a lot of other shows, and manages a few genuinely dramatic moments along the way.

Any TV show stands or falls with its cast, and this is particularly true of comedies. While a lot of Upload‘s gags are visual, you still need the right sort of actor to deliver the punchlines. And Upload has got it just right. Robbie Amell is spot-on perfect as the fish-out-of-water Nathan. Andy Allo brings a calm and reassuring presence as his guide to the afterlife. Zainab Johnson and Kevin Bigley are the perfect comedic counterweight the main drama, while Allegra Edwards brilliantly plays the crazy girlfriend trope with amazing depth and nuance. The supporting cast is on-point too, with Owen Daniels as the useless afterlife AI, and the always brilliant William B. Davies as heaven’s happiest old man. There’s not a bad performance in the batch, and the chemistry between them all is phenomenal.

At only ten half-hour episodes, Upload is short even by modern comedy standards, and it’s quite clear that it’s still finding its feet. Sometimes, as with all comedy-dramas, it feels a little unsure of itself, lurching from melodrama to outright hilarity rather unevenly. But these moments of hilarity are brilliant, and common enough that you’ll soon forget about the drier sections. There’s enough of a narrative to give proceedings a sense of momentum, and the show undeniably strengthens as it goes along. With a second season already confirmed, I’m eager to see what comes next.

If you’re looking for a quick and funny show, Upload is it. It may be a work in progress, but it has characters and humour that are sureto appeal.

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