Canadian series ReGenesis starts its third season on Sunday, April 1, but I'd never before seen it. So with the first two episodes for review - episodes that air back to back on the Movie Channel/Movie Central - I realized how clueless I was about even the concept of the show. I'd thought it was science fiction like Star Trek is science fiction. In fact, ReGenesis is science fiction in the most literal sense, a kind of non-police CSI about biotechnologist investigators.
Peter Outerbridge stars as David Sandstrom, who leads a team of scientists including the Rain Man-ish Bob Melnikov (Dmitry Chepovetsky), sexy researcher Mayko Tran (Mayko Nguyen), and Wendy Crewson joins the cast this year as virologist Rachel Woods.
The season two finale apparently ended with a series-changing bomb blast in the lab at NorBAC (North American Biotechnology Advisory Commission), which killed some characters and left the others with scars both physical and emotional.
The first two episodes of season three, "A Spontaneous Moment" and "Dust in the Wind," are really a two-parter, opening six months after the explosion. David and Bob investigate another lab explosion in Utah, where six scientists appear to have spontaneously combusted, in a case that hits close to home for the grief-stricken team. Rachel has a side investigation of her own, conducting tests to identify her godson's killer and facing her son's wrath when the results aren't what he expected.
Season three was hard to jump into as a new viewer, with the weight of the tragic explosion pressing down on every moment. If these episodes are characteristic, this is one nearly humourless show, not quite gritty enough for the number of "fuck"s per hour, and far from subtle. David is particularly hard-hit by the devastation of the lab, and we know that because he's drinking, taking drugs, yelling, swearing, and hallucinating. If he had a puppy, he'd be kicking it.
Even newcomer Rachel is saddled with that tragic story, and Crewson is saddled with pouring out a synopsis of her character's life for the benefit of the audience. The exposition-heavy dialogue has the show telling rather than showing even those small moments meant to convey emotion. For example, lab interim director Westin Field (Greg Bryk) is profoundly affected by a phone call for his dead colleague. We know that because he tells Rachel, who takes the role of sudden, intimate confidante to these virtual strangers.
I'm admittedly not a fan of the crime genre, but there were few entry points for a new viewer in these episodes, even though there's a self-contained mystery at the core. The science is an interestingly unique twist on the ubiquitous forensics shows, but in these two fraught episodes at least, the characters aren't easy to get to know as multi-dimensional people I should care about.
This season, Showcase has taken over Global's role as the non-pay broadcaster for ReGenesis. Season three will air on that channel after its run on The Movie Network/Movie Central.