Mysterious disappearances. Obsessions. Secrets. Time travel. Such are the essential elements of DARK, the Netflix Originals Series sci-fi/supernatural mashup set in a small town in the middle of the heavily-forested German countryside.
Although there will be the inevitable comparisons between it and STRANGER THINGS, the fact that both shows feature several adolescent characters, take place (at least, partly) in the mid-1980s, and involve strange phenomena is the extent of the similarities.
STRANGER—with its cast of imminently-likable characters (juvenile and adult) and coulda-been-shot-in-the-early-‘80s filmmaking style—seems like a lighthearted, feel-good romp when compared with DARK, which never once delivers any warm fuzzies.
DARK is, as the name implies, just the opposite: a brooding, tense, atmospheric drama, with nary a moment of levity. The forest is vast, dense, and all-encompassing. The rain—which seems to pour every day—isn’t just a polite little shower; it’s a soaking deluge. And the people? None of them seem even close to a state of being you'd call "happy" (with themselves or with each other). It all might come across as unremittingly grim, even.
Lest that put you off, though, hold on; DARK is also a thoroughly-absorbing tale, bouncing back and forth from the 1950s to the ‘80s to 2019… following the stories of the same characters at different points in time. Rarely do we, as viewers, see how a show’s characters have been formed, but in DARK, we zing between the eras, watching as things happen and everyone reacts and responds.
And then, of course, there’s the sci-fi/supernatural bent, for it isn’t just a matter of the series taking viewers on some little trip down Memory Lane. Nope, DARK delves into the murky waters of time travel, multiple dimensions, and issues of messing with the time-space continuum, in the process. Mind-bendy stuff, right there… and it was impossible fo me to not get sucked right into the wormhole.
My one (and only) complaint re DARK, in fact? It’s dubbed, for crying out loud. (Good lord, what were they thinking?!?) So, rather than treating the viewers like intelligent beings (who can rapidly read subtitles *and* watch expressions and movements), the show’s creators opted to treat them like simpletons in that regard (which yes, is hella ironic, when you consider the heady subject matter therein). That one egregious decision aside, though, this one’s a really, really interesting watch.