By Dustin Cabeal
Upon seeing the initial trailer for Rocket Jump’s newest Hulu exclusive series Dimension 404, it looked like a serious take on sci-fi in the vein of The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. The two heavy classics that no one seems able to repeat the success of, but here was Rocket Jump with what looked like their first serious foray into the genre.
Perhaps I should have known better to think that this would be all serious. The first episode of Dimension 404, is lighthearted and humorous. The episode starts off serious at first as our main character of the episode Adam, played by Robert Buckley, is just looking for a date. His roommate helps him out by setting him up with a matchmaker app, and soon enough he’s in a relationship with Amanda, played by Lea Michele. The comedy doesn’t creep in, but instead no knock raids the door as he falls for her too quickly, and she hits a button her phone which brings in two bag men to take Adam out. He escapes, returns to his apartment only to be drugged by his roommate. The rest is for you to watch, but that is the moment in which the tone of the episode shifts.
Black Mirror has been hailed for reviving the sci-fi one-shot genre, but you might need to go an anti-depressant after watching it. You could instead just watch Dimension 404, which is a happy version of the two O.G. shows I mentioned prior. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s hard to say what the rest of the series will exactly be like, but there was an overwhelming sense of “everything is going to be alright” at the end… you know minus a sub character's death. That aside, everything is pretty damn happy.
The acting was stiff at times. There didn’t seem to be a lot of direction given to the actors, and instead, they were just giving their best and hoped it worked. Michele, in particular, has so few lines that this episode didn’t showcase any of her range or abilities in a post-Glee world. Buckley, on the other hand, finds his stride after his character’s downfall, but the ending puts him right back to his characterization at the beginning. The other three actors with speaking lines were serviceable, not great, not particularly funny or interesting, but serviceable.
The visuals were, of course, great because that’s what Rocket Jump does. A keen eye will still be able to tell back lots and fake sets, but when the story shifts, it excels with the design. There is one aspect of the visuals that were disappointing, but without spoiling it, it’s hard to discuss. Let’s just say the classic “let’s use the money on one character, but not all the others” is clear and present in the finally. Perhaps we weren’t supposed to pay that much attention, but due to the subject matter, it was hard not to.
Overall, Dimension 404 is worth the viewing. It doesn’t quite scratch that itch that the O.G. shows have left in their wake, but it’s entertaining and shows promise, even if this first episode feels a bit safe and close to the chest.
Dimension 404 E.01 – “Match Makers”
Available exclusively on Hulu