On paper, you can see how a lazy executive at Netflix would decide to greenlight 'The I-Land' on the basis of its pitch.
You're taking elements of 'Lost', 'Westworld', 'Survivor', and about a dozen more sci-fi movies, TV shows and stories that touch upon similar concepts and ideas. Hell, even the name - 'The I-Land' - conjures up images of early '00s TV shows with glossy locales and vaguely familiar actors.
That's the thing about 'The I-Land' that makes it kind of funny. If this had been made twenty years ago, it might have stood a chance of survival. Instead, it's 2019, and it's released on a streaming service that's produced some of the most fascinating, thought-provoking shows on television, and effectively redefined what television as a medium is.
Leaving all this aside, it's important to know that 'The I-Land' isn't one of those shows where it's so bad that it's good. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead, 'The I-Land' rests in some kind of twilight between painfully banal and egregiously written. Some of the dialogue is so trite, so achingly stupid that it's kind of unbelievable to think that it was written by Neil LaBute, the writer of 'In The Company Of Men'.
The premise of the show sees a group of ten very attractive people waking up on a tropical beach, dressed like they're in a fashion campaign, trying to find out why they're there and piece together whatever clues to their origin. None of them have any memory of who they are, or how they got there, but before long, they find out their names - by name-tags sewn on the back of their cotton white shirts - and their personalities begin to bubble up.
Alex Pettyfer's character is a rapist, Kate Bosworth's character is some kind of master manipulator, Natalie Martinez's character is the plucky protagonist who has a bit of an attitude problem, while the other seven islanders aren't important enough to be developed enough beyond being attractive and asking questions of the other three.
The writing throughout 'The I-Land', however, is what really lets it down. The first two episodes set up the mystery of the place, and with each episode covering a new discovery before, by the third episode, the whole thing is revealed and Bruce McGill's character enters the fray and explains just about everything there is to know about the series, and why they're there.
It's not that the twist is obvious, or that it's such a stupid idea that you're wondering why anyone would go to all that trouble. Instead, what 'The I-Land' and the writing does is make the entire thing redundant before it even gets anywhere. Not only that, it's hard to care about any of the characters or what happens to them when you've basically removed any reason to do so before it even begins.
This kind of fundamental flaw in the concept speaks to the general lack of quality throughout 'The I-Land'. Everything looks cheap and chintzy, and the direction throughout barely gets above satisfactory throughout the seven episodes. Not only that, the actors themselves rarely, if ever, seem to be up the task of elevating the crap they've been given to say.
Go beyond all of this, though, and 'The I-Land' isn't just a waste of everybody's time, but if Netflix is pushing this show that hard, you've got to wonder how long the streaming service's reign can continue at the top of the pile.
While shows like 'Mindhunter' or 'Orange Is The New Black' are the top-flight shows Netflix want to be known for, the also-rans like 'The Good Cop', latter seasons of 'House of Cards', 'Chambers' and now 'The I-Land' seem to indicate that Netflix is flinging crap at the screen and seeing what sticks.
'The I-Land', mercifully, is a limited series, so feel free to scroll right past this on your way to something better.