TV Show Review – Upload
by Bryan Scheidler
Upload is the brand new show from Greg Daniels, producer of The Office and Parks and Rec, to hit Amazon Prime. The show follows the journey of Nathan Brown, played by Robbie Amell, from his recently ended life into his new digital afterlife. He is helped through the transition by his real-world tech support Nora Anthony played by Andy Allo. The show takes us on a journey as Nathan tries to maintain his identity and life while existing only as a virtual construct. All of that was obvious from the trailer, but how successful actually is Upload?
Upload is a show of mountains and valleys. The things that work are hilarious and really show the potential for what the show could be. The things that fall flat make the sow drag and leave you not really caring to continue watching. The tragedy of this is that the valleys outweigh the mountains. Let me explain.
Greg Daniels is known for his comedy and coming from The Office or Parks and Rec, you would expect big laughs in this show. There are moments in this show that still make me laugh just thinking about them. The visual gags sprinkled throughout the show are hilarious. The actual process of Nathan being uploaded was terrific. It was the kind of joke you would want to keep getting throughout the show. The other way that the humor works is the technology and how it impacts this new world they all live in. Nathan trying to still have a physical relationship with his girlfriend, was hilarious and disturbing all at the same time. The problem is that the laughs are almost always relegated to background events or characters. The main characters don’t bring that same level of humor you might be expecting from the previous characters written by Daniels.
The big issue I have with the show is the main storyline’s pacing. It is hard to explain specifically without spoiling plot elements (for spoilers skip to the end), but the first season feels like 2 or 3 seasons worth of character development crammed into 1. This pacing problem makes the characters seem poorly written, like they are entirely different from one scene to another. The storyline is also very predictable, which isn’t always a bad thing, especially in romantic comedies. When the story is rushed and can not evolve naturally, it becomes frustrating.
The show has a lot of potential, the world that Daniel’s created is fun and has the potential for huge laughs. It has a great cast, and they do a great job with what they are given, Andy Allo is particularly great. Sadly though, the laughs take a back seat to a narrative that is rushed and predictable.
The plot of the show follows this path: Nathan Dies, begins adjusting to virtual life and dealing with his “Tech Support” Nora, Starts having to deal with people in the real world as well, learns he may have been murdered, starts to fall for Nora, and more. This is absolutely predictable as far as a show’s storyline is concerned, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is all of that takes place over 3 episodes. Season 1 should have consisted of Nathan loving the virtual life, goofing off, and being kind of an arrogant guy now that he is in his mind immortal. This should have been matched by Nora and Nathan being very antagonistic towards each other, and Nora pulling pranks on him and trying to make his life miserable because of his behavior. Only to slowly start becoming friends towards the end of the season, then the cliffhanger reveals at the end of the season is it looks like he was murdered. When a season’s worth of character growth takes place over 2-3 episodes, it feels like the show is rushed and doesn’t expect to be around for season 2.