All episodes of Kaleidoscope premiere January 1 on Netflix.
By Elazar Abrahams
Netflix has been on the forefront of experimental TV for quite some time now. The streaming giant was the initial purveyor of the “binge model,” dropping full seasons of a hit series at once and reshaping how the world thought of episodic television. Then came projects like Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Kimmy vs the Reverend, interactive specials where viewers could choose their own path in the story with a tap of the screen. Now as a new year begins, the limited series Kaleidoscope brings a new gimmick — with the exception of a set finale, there is no episode order to the eight installments. Netflix will assign each account a random sequence for the episodes and viewers will piece together the story of a ragtag team of thieves as they attempt a major heist.
The episodes are named after different colors and correspond to different moments in time in relation to the bank robbery that comes in the final episode. For example, “Yellow” is six weeks ahead of the job, while “Green” features the characters seven years prior. We also get glimpses of the future, with “Red” being the morning after the heist, and “Pink” six months later.
This is all very cool in theory, and when executed well, it is intriguing to see which of the central crew has betrayed each other before it happens, or only fully understanding familial relationships between the antiheroes when you get to an episode that takes place 24 years before the heist. Unfortunately for the most part, Kaleidoscope is an unbaked and completely forgettable show. Perhaps this concept should have been saved for a better and smarter miniseries.
Giancarlo Esposito leads the cast and is excellently menacing as usual, and Jai Courtney turns in a decent performance as a bumbling meathead member of the robbing team. Aside from them, all the characters are instantly forgettable, not even good enough to be archetypes of an Ocean’s 11-esque ensemble. Additionally, the nonlinear storytelling doesn’t add much to the experience. Don’t most movies and TV shows already have flashbacks? Jumping around in time is not as crazy as the creators may have envisioned it. The finale (“White”) is supposed to be a capstone to the seven hours that have come before, but it isn’t nearly as enticing as some of the other action and gun fights that happened in episodes prior.
Kaleidoscope’s release may be novel, but feel free to skip this poorly put-together series.
I give Kaleidoscope a C-.