With the debuts of USA Network’s Falling Water on October 13 and Epix’s Berlin Station on October 16, the battle to be a cable contender just became more interesting. As I say in my video review above, both series — Gale Anne Hurd and Blake Masters’ on the home of Mr. Robot, and the Olen Steinhauer-created and Bradford Winters-showrun spy thriller, respectively — succeed admirably in planting flags for their channels, though with very different approaches.
If you are looking for the conventional, the dreamscape of Falling Water will spin your head round and round. The 10-episode first season of the Universal Cable Productions series created by Masters and former Homeland EP Henry Bromell (who passed away in 2013) dives deep into notions of the unconscious, the powers that be and the experience of “even when you are here, you are not here,” to quote the show.
At its shimmering and sometimes intangible core, the stylized Falling Waters tracks a trio of seemingly disconnected characters who are dreaming parts of the the same dream with a bigger picture looming. American Horror Story: Asylum alum Lizzie Brocheré plays Tess, a designer and trend predictor; Will Yun Lee is Taka, a NYPD detective with lingering family responsibilities who is pursuing a cult of dream seekers; and a very strong David Ajala portrays Burton, the security chief for a global investment bank teetering on the edge of some very big deals. Casual‘s Zak Orth pieces together the puzzle a bit as a CEO obsessed with the untapped power of dreams and a collective unconscious.
Although the pilot moves along at a good pace, Falling Water has a bit of a slow lift-off that ends up, from what I’ve seen, pushing the boundaries and the science and weaves its way into occupying a lot more than the present moment.
On another side of the narrative spectrum, Paramount TV and Anonymous Content’s Berlin Station with a cast featuring Richard Armitage, Michelle Forbes, Richard Jenkins and Rhys Ifans is a pretty standard spy thriller that tackles some surprising new angles of modern espionage. With an Edward Snowden-Julian Assange mix in the form of infamous leaker Thomas Shaw revealing the CIA’s secrets to the world, Hannibal alum Armitage’s Daniel Miller is put in the agency’s German office to catch the whistleblower. However, it is the top-notch performances by Jenkins as the insecure and scheming CIA station chief, Forbes as an ambitious administrator who disregards The Company’s hierarchy, and Ifans as a veteran agent who is equal parts hard-living, hard-edged and frustrated that really makes the drama in Epix’s first original scripted series so compelling.
Take a look at more of what I think of Falling Water and Berlin Station by clicking on my video review above. You can also take a look at the shows themselves as both cablers have put early episodes online. Tell us what you think.