Shows like Almost Paradise make you nostalgic for the "old days." Remember those times when TV shows used to be fun without being too hectic and overlong (in terms of length). Nowadays, almost every series contains eight to ten episodes, and most of them simply eat up our time without offering anything worthwhile. And then we have the Marvel studio, which is busy churning out mediocre, forgettable stuff for the streaming services. But now and then, you come across something like Almost Paradise, which reminds you that you don't need to do homework to enjoy TV shows. This Amazon Freevee series is so welcoming and genial that you can watch its second season without knowing anything about the first one. Go in blind, and you will still come out satisfied.
Almost Paradise doesn't reinvent the long-form structure. It's riddled with clichés and cheers. The show works because it converts its blandness into its strength. The audience, tired of an average (and "heavy") Netflix show, will be pleased by the lightheartedness. Furthermore, given that Almost Paradise consists of cops and criminals, some viewers could link it to shows like, say, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This Freevee series isn't as strong as that eight-season sitcom, but it still has some pretty nice jokes. Notice Alex Walker (Christian Kane) being confused about the eggplant emoji and TikTok. The humor starts coming in from the moment the first episode opens up.
Not all the wisecracks work, but there are more hits and fewer misses. Kane, though, remains charming throughout. He might have been born to play this role. He certainly enjoys being goofy and rugged, and we rejoice in watching him in action. Kane, Arthur Acuña (as Ernesto Alamares), and Samantha Richelle (as Kai Mendoza) look good, and their characters share a believable bond. Hence, you instantly buy them as friends who could die for each other.
As far as the story is concerned, it's predictable to an extent. The characters we suspect almost always end up being the real culprit. But even if you can't figure out who's the actual villain, you accurately guess how the episode will unfold and how the twist will be delivered. Almost Paradise uses the same trick that's present in Money Heist. Throw the characters in a complication, create an illusion of a dead end, and then release the tension by revealing that the characters were prepared for the situation. Once you grasp this narrative template, you sit back and relax even more, and after a while, feel that the show could have benefitted from some more surprises up its sleeves or at least a bit more suspense. The drama, too, is feeble, which is why you don't care about the romances. Almost Paradise Season 2 wants us to root for Alex and Kai, but we don't care if Alex is with Kai or any other woman. This angle is executed perfunctorily, and even the actors aren't able to do much with a half-baked romance. Also, it's futile to ask questions like, "Why did that woman suddenly decide to put that cross in the church?"
Thankfully, Almost Paradise makes up for its flaws through some well-timed and surprising gags. Alex's boat stops working as soon as Alex (and later, Ernesto) get too relaxed. To display his heroism, Alex asks Kai to give him a boost, and when he extends his hand to lift her up, she simply opens a door and enters a house. Two men are told to go into an arena, which they consider to be some shady fight club. But upon entering the room, they see that it's... I will leave it for you to discover. There are other amusing moments, and I won't spoil them here.
In the fourth episode, Alex finds termites in his home - a point that can be linked to the fact that this episode is about enemies existing among friends. It's one of the weakest episodes because it becomes schmaltzy in some places, and this "weightiness" looks out of place in a show that wants to be light-hearted. In another episode, Alex fights with a bad guy while rolling down a water slide, and you wonder how better things would have been if there were more such moments as this bad guy really loves water. During the last two episodes, Almost Paradise Season 2 tries to be all about "let's move on to different, better, risky prospects" but lands on familiar, comfortable grounds. A show like this exists in a comfort zone. This is why they are called comfort shows, no?
Final Score- [7/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
Note: All ten episodes are screened for this review.
Premiere Date: July 21, 2023, on Amazon Freevee with all the 10 episodes
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