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Review: ‘Residue’ Episode One

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Residue, a futuristic paranormal thriller, has a promising premise. Set in the heart of London somewhere in the near future, three people set out to discover the true cause of a toxic explosion on New Year’s Eve.

The first episode of the show starts out with a bang—literally. Within the first five minutes, an underground club in the middle of what is presumably London explodes. Three weeks later, most of the citizens in the city have evacuated under government warning that an unknown toxic substance from the explosion is contaminating the city.

Jennifer Preston (Game of Thrones‘ Natalia Tena), a photojournalist, and her boyfriend Jonas (Iwan Rheon, who also appears on Game of Thrones) still live on the outskirts of the city. Armed with a camera and an unknown motivation for trying to unearth the truth about what caused the explosion, Jennifer wanders the city and takes pictures of anything that looks suspicious, returning home to her apartment late at night to staple morbid pictures to her wall and try and figure out why the people in said morbid pictures are committing a new string of suicides and homicides are occurring in the city.

The story also follows that of Levi Mathis (Jamie Draven), a “cool dad” turned alcoholic detective after the death of his 14-year-old daughter at the club during New Year’s. Swallowing a plethora of illegally obtained prescription medication with a handful of mini Smirnoff shots, he is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Gregory House, a cantankerous and tortured soul trying to solve the mystery of his daughter’s death.

Most of the show follows Jennifer or Levi around the city as they attempt to find more clues about what occurred, talking to traditionally “shady figures” like drug dealers and corrupt government workers. Beautiful cinematography is what makes their walk-and-talk adventure worth watching; with a commanding use of colors and interesting framing, Residue does well for itself visually. The show also boasts a promising cast, which is disappointing when it becomes apparent within the first 10 minutes that the story is really the weakest, and ultimately fatal aspect, of the show.

Residue seems to be inspired from several shows, including Torchwood, Supernatural, and Sherlock. It boasts a premise that is interesting but safe—watching the show feels like watching several other shows coming together in a mash-up. Unfortunately, Residue offers nothing new or shocking in terms of contents, and the first episode isn’t quite interesting enough to inspire a second watch. Nothing really happens, no revelations are gained, the stakes aren’t raised; and in the middle of the show the paranormal is introduced, with clearly CGI-ed ghostly spirits flowing into a seemingly random consortium of people, who then go on to commit suicide/homicide. Dialogue is contrived and rote, and none of the characters are quirky or unique enough to really hold their own against the dry writing.

Rumor has it that Residue has actually been renewed for a 10-episode second season, despite the lukewarm reviews on both IMDb and Netflix. I am really willing to give this show a chance, but before I decide to watch the second season, Residue has to stop treading in the residue of other shows.