Star Rating:

Kaleidoscope 15

Streaming On: Watch Kaleidoscope on Netflix

Season: 1

Actors: Giancarlo Esposito, Paz Vega, Rufus Sewell, Jai Courtney

Release Date: Sunday 1st January 2023

Genre(s): Crime, Thriller

Running time: 500 minutes

Netflix are, it seems, trying to come up with new ways for you to watch their content and getting ahead of whatever curve is coming next for it.

'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' took on a choose-your-own-adventure style experience and was remarkably fun stuff that you could spiral down into. 'Kaleidoscope' doesn't have quite the same tricks, but it does invite you to watch the series in any order you'd like and the idea is - more or less - you'll have a coherent story at the end of it. Each episode is titled with a colour and, wouldn't you know it, that colour is present A LOT in that episode. What's more, certain characters favour specific colours and, as a result, we're invited to guess their significance and its relevance to the story as we go along.

Each episode opens with a narration - typically from Giancarlo Esposito, typically trying to work his way through some very heavy-handed, hardboiled cliches - that drops you into the action. From there, we're into different time periods relevant to the heist - some are the morning after, some are twenty years prior, some are months after, some are days beforehand, yet whatever way you come at it, Netflix queues them so that they're all leading to White.

What's kind of galling about 'Kaleidoscope' is that even if you watch it back to front, starting off with Green, starting off with Yellow, whatever - it's still a pretty dull series that's achingly similar to other heist/caper shows. 'Prison Break', 'The Fugitive', and any number of Elmore Leonard adaptations, they're all the same concept except in 'Kaleidoscope', it's jumbled around but still arrives at White, which is when the heist itself goes down and all of the other episodes are supposed to coalesce into a coherent story. Of course, the gag with 'Kaleidoscope' is you can just jump right to White and work your way back if you so choose.

The story involves a convoluted story involving a heist, long-delayed revenge, and a group of expert criminals - Giancarlo Esposito's the leader, 'Top Gun: Maverick' alum Peter Mark Kendall is the plucky sidekick, Paz Vega is the slinky weapons expert, and Rufus Sewell - you guessed it - is the villain here as he was in 'The Man In The High Castle' and nearly every other role he takes on. There are various cons going on, double-crosses, elaborate schemes involving disguises and all the kinds of hijinks that were popular twenty years ago but have sadly become passé in the intervening decades. The concept itself is quite clever - watching episodes out-of-order - but really, it's almost like dropping into a season and trying to puzzle it out, only to get half the clues before forgetting them later on when it seems relevant. Really, who needs that kind of work when watching a show?

This being Netflix, there's a distinct likelihood that 'Kaleidoscope' will simply disappear into the library, and in three months' time, we'll get two possible endings - a news story about it being cancelled after a single season, or a press release about how it's been watched 39 billion times with no independently verifiable source on that figure.