Monday, June 1, 2020

TV Review: Love, Death & Robots


Bite-sized science fiction that packs a punch


By Kelly Cho


Love, Death & Robots (LDR) is an anthology of animated, adult-oriented stories that premiered in March on Netflix. Produced by Tim Miller and David Fincher, the series has 18 episodes spanning genres from sci-fi to fantasy, and horror to comedy. They are mostly adapted from short texts by sci-fi writers including Alastair Reynolds, Michael Swanwick, and John Scalzi, with a few originals as well. The production also features world-class animators.


The series is highly experimental in terms of structure. Unlike conventional series that are usually half an hour to one-hour long, all LDR episodes are under 20 minutes. Some are even as short as six minutes, with their length tailored according to the style and purpose of each story. This structure enables a more flexible and effective means of storytelling. With brilliant animation quality, the team challenges the boundaries of the genre to broaden our imagination and present the plots in compelling ways.


The content itself is more controversial. It has been criticized for featuring gratuitous nudity and violence, and its problematic, male-gazey representation of women. Some sci-fi fans also find some plots predictable and repetitive.


Since the show prioritizes variety over consistency, the episodes vary in quality. But there are a few standout ones: ‘Three Robots’ has some light-hearted dialogue in a post-apocalyptic city and is an exploration of humanity from robots’ perspectives. ‘Aquila Rift’ discusses the perception of reality in a failed space mission; it is based on texts written by Alastair Reynolds and has a stunning ending.


LDR is so eclectic that it’s impossible to give one-size-fits-all remarks about it. For those who are unsure, I would say give it a go. Skim and skip the ones that don’t appeal to you, and find out for yourself what the top talents in the industry have to offer. –KC


A scene from ‘Aquila Lift.’ Photo courtesy of Netflix.

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