“Proof” and “Sense8”: New Shows That Explore Consciousness and Evolution

I’m always up for a good show that investigates consciousness, the paranormal, or mankind’s possible evolution of greater mental powers, i.e, ESP, psychism, bending spoons, etc. Whether it’s Scully and Mulder outwitting Cancerman in their search for the truth, those hunky brothers who hunt for bad demons, or the young autistic boy who can predict events by focusing on numbers, I’m there with a bag of popcorn and the hope that this time, maybe, the show will have legs and maybe even offer, well — something new.

“Proof” is on TNT and, sadly, just four episodes in, I’m not sure that it’s going to make it past the first season. Starring Jennifer Beale as a doctor who has been challenged to come up with proof of consciousness after death, the show seems overly cautious, perhaps not wanting to be seen as the next X-files, (although that could only boost their appeal as far as I’m concerned). I love the premise, the acting is decent, but already I feel like the story is relying too much on the main character’s family drama, and avoiding meatier topics that would challenge viewers and require more thought. Catch it while you can and, who knows? – we can always hope that the show is just off to a slow start and gets more ambitious soon.

“Sense8,” on the other hand, may be overly ambitious, but God bless them for giving it their all. A Netflix original series, the entire first season became available last month. Built around the premise that mankind is slowing evolving psychic abilities, it follows the stories of eight people around the world who gradually become mentally connected to each other. How they deal with the sudden intrusion of other minds is, by turns, dramatic, sexy, and farcical. There are mysterious forces who want to help the good guys, and government bad guys who either want to control or eliminate them. Visually stunning, and written for a mature audience, this show is knocking my socks off. There is no lack of meaty possibilities here — if anything, the show, written and directed by the Wachowsky siblings, has that certain feel where you know that the creators are flinging spaghetti against the wall to see what will stick. And that’s fine, fling away — I’m hooked – the good stuff will stick and even the pieces that fall to the ground will still challenge the viewer in a “what if” sort of way.

by Cheryl Shainmark