Counterpart |OT| A parallel reality sci-fi espionage thriller w/ JK Simmons, Starz, starts 1/21

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Oct 25, 2017
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Premieres January 21st on Starz, Sundays at 8pm EST
Pilot already available for Starz subcribers


“Counterpart” is about a mysterious world hidden beneath the surface of our everyday existence. Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) is a lowly cog in the bureaucratic machinery of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency. When Howard discovers that his organization safeguards the secret of a crossing into a parallel dimension, he is thrust into a shadow world of intrigue, danger, and double cross… where the only man he can trust is his near-identical counterpart from this parallel world. The show explores themes of identity, fate and lost love, posing the eternal question, “what if our lives could have been different?”

“Counterpart” also features Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense, Hyde Park on Hudson, “Manhattan”) as ‘Emily Burton Silk,’ Harry Lloyd (The Theory of Everything, Jane Eyre, “Manhattan”) as ‘Peter Quayle,’ Nicholas Pinnock (Captain America: The First Avenger, “Marcella”) as ‘Ian Shaw,’ Nazanin Boniadi (“Homeland,” Ben-Hur, Hotel Mumbai) as ‘Clare,’ Sara Serraiocco (Salvo, Cloro, Worldly Girl) as ‘Baldwin,’ and Ulrich Thomsen (“The Blacklist,” “Banshee”) as ‘Aldrich.’ Academy Award nominee Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) directed the first episode.



Hollywood Reporter
With J.K. Simmons' outstanding performance, Starz finds a compelling, intriguing winner in the murky espionage series.
...Dense but absorbing, Counterpart is filled with both twists and slow reveals, urging you into commitment. Any time there's a hesitation, there's Simmons, whose outstanding work won't let you pull away, giving Starz and creator Marks a series that could stand out in the TV jungle.
IGN
Starz’s Counterpart is the best new series of 2018 so far
...The show is visually impressive too. There are times when Counterpart intentionally slows its pacing and then suddenly launches into a frenetic shootout featuring some great fight choreography that creates a tense atmosphere. You’re never really sure what’s coming up next. I’ve seen the first 6 episodes and the story keeps getting more interesting with each passing hour. The writers give you just enough information to whet your appetite. It makes me wish the entire season was available now.
Den of Geek
Take the multiverse of Fringe and add the political intrigue of The Americans (with a sprinkle of Charlie Jade for those who know it), and that’ll provide some idea of what Starz’ new sci-fi thriller, Counterpart, is all about. The show pits spy versus spy in a cold war between parallel Earths where everyone has a double in the other world, and the ways in which the differences between existences can be exploited are numerous and underhanded in the extreme. Those with patience for a slow initial pace will eventually be rewarded with a rich conspiracy tale about 3 or 4 episodes in, but those looking for immediate action or spoon-fed exposition should look elsewhere.
 

RiOrius

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Oct 27, 2017
998
Looks sweet. And apparently Starz has a free trial? Guess I'll have to check it out once the first season is complete.
 
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Also, the show was picked by Starz for two seasons from the get-go, so at the very least, the premise will have breathing room

I literally just learned about this show earlier Tuesday, and it quickly become one of my most anticipated. It sounds like Cowboy Angels or Merchant Princes but more grounded and a slow-burn spy thriller. I love alt/parallel universe stories when done well; I didn’t even finish the trailer once I realized the story sounded like it was going to touch on my favorite aspects of those kinds of plots.
 

rsfour

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,518
Yeah, saw this on Starz, really liked it. Then again, all they had to say was JK Simmons, Kai Proctor, and Fringe.

Can't wait for the rest of the series.
 
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Watched the pilot. Really good, and does a good job at setting the stage for future stories, especially with the parallel reality aspect. Simmons does a fantastic job at adding enough nuances to make his versions feel like different characters. The world and tone is very Cold War-esque spy thriller yet also kind of dystopian
 
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thediamondage

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Oct 25, 2017
3,393
You had me at Fringe!

edit: holy shit just watched the trailer and this is like the best seasons of Fringe, right from the start. I AM EXCITE
 
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thediamondage

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Oct 25, 2017
3,393
Just watched episode 1 on Starz on Demand, DAMN that was fantastic! Very, very slow and lots of dialogue scenes but I loved it. JK Simmons killing it, some fantastic looking guest actors in the rest of the season from the short blurb at the end. Its definitely more of a (slow burn) spy thriller than a sci fi, the world also reminds me a lot of the Archer world in the way there are mobile phones but all the computers are old ass CRTs. Reminded me a lot as well of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - the movie, book, and TV series.

Loved the scenes where JK Simmons is just talking about life.
 
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Just watched episode 1 on Starz on Demand, DAMN that was fantastic! Very, very slow and lots of dialogue scenes but I loved it. JK Simmons killing it, some fantastic looking guest actors in the rest of the season from the short blurb at the end. Its definitely more of a (slow burn) spy thriller than a sci fi, the world also reminds me a lot of the Archer world in the way there are mobile phones but all the computers are old ass CRTs. Reminded me a lot as well of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - the movie, book, and TV series.

Loved the scenes where JK Simmons is just talking about life.
I thought the action that was there was well done
Felt hectic and intense but also displayed the skills of the characters. Always love a good “follow the person through the window” shot
 

phantomx

Banned
Oct 27, 2017
1,801
I actually worked on the entire first season of this...have yet to see the finished product yet. Can’t wait! Glad it’s getting good reviews :)

(unfortunately I have been spoiled by the entire 1st season plot :( )
 

ara

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Oct 26, 2017
5,040
Well shit, this sounds great. Gonna keep an eye out for European release.
 

William

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
159
I wonder if there is any chance this gets a Netflix release in the UK? Or will it be Sky Atlantic, if anything...
 
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Some more reviews

Variety
“Counterpart” is quite likely to appeal to fans of a few different genres. A smartly constructed and atmospheric spy thriller, “Counterpart’s” first allegiance is to hushed conversations, dangerous secrets, and the kind of shadowy alleys and darkened hallways traversed by secret agents.

But “Counterpart” is also a work of speculative fiction, and it uses its graceful and well-modulated sci-fi elements to ask thoughtful questions about missed opportunities, identity, and what happens when people get unexpected chances to remake their lives.

And if that weren’t enough, “Counterpart” is also a handsome, character-driven serial for adults. It avoids many of the traps of the Prestige Drama category: It’s brisk, sardonic, and has moments of bittersweet sadness, but it’s not enamored of predictable grimness or uninspired transgression. And whatever genre you gravitate to, “Counterpart” is made immensely enjoyable by excellent performances from J.K. Simmons and Olivia Williams, among others.
NY Times
“Counterpart,” created by Justin Marks (writer of the 2016 “Jungle Book” remake), is a clever and suspenseful if somewhat familiar mix of futuristic speculation and retro atmosphere...
...Through six episodes, Mr. Marks doesn’t do anything especially interesting with that premise, but luckily for him and us, Mr. Simmons, an Oscar winner in 2015 for “Whiplash,” does. He plays with inflections, rhythms, expressions, postures and bearings to make his identical Howards utterly distinct, and at the same time he gives each one flashes of the other’s personality.
Screenrant
Every so often a new show comes around offering a confluence of so many strong elements that it instantly becomes a must-watch. The first show to do that in 2018 is Starz’ Counterpart. A stylish espionage thriller with a sci-fi slant, the series blends genres into an exquisite concoction that is both fascinatingly original and comfortingly familiar at the same time. The story ticks all of the requisite genre boxes of popular television today without being yet another comic book adaptation. It’s a series unabashedly aimed at an adult audience, one that can appreciate the structure of the narrative and the existential crisis at the center.
 

Sirpopopop

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Oct 23, 2017
388
I was hoping someone was going to make an OP for this show. Sepinwall’s review had me hyped.
 

Truant

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Oct 28, 2017
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So, what was basically the big reveal at the end of Fringe S1 is the basic premise for this?

Looks interesting.
 

TheNatureBoy

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Nov 4, 2017
1,668
Just watched the pilot on Demand, good that Starz is doing a free weekend for this w/cable providers.

I enjoyed it and thought J.K. Simmons did great in the dual roles. I won't say much until the episode has officially aired, but it already had a few


moments.

I might wait until Ash vs. Evil Dead returns next month, so I can let some episodes build up and won't have to pay for Starz as much.
 
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A good review from The Atlantic
It’s a smorgasbord of different concepts in one. The Berlin setting, the espionage plotlines, and the deceptively ineffectual protagonist bring to mind the novels of John le Carré, but there are also elements of Homeland, Harry Potter, and Stieg Larsson thrown into the mix. Information, as any intelligence agency knows, is currency, and Counterpart is precise in what it reveals, eking out twists in each episode, but keeping the larger narrative under wraps...
...There are enough loose threads in Counterpart to make a tapestry, but the series seems committed to tying them together. Plus, for a show whose episodes run around 55 minutes, the pace is gratifyingly propulsive. It’s Simmons, though, who steals it, doing double duty as a milquetoast accountant and a braggadocious intelligence operative who wouldn’t be out of place in the Expendables lineup. Rather than turn either into a stereotype, he imbues both with a kind of emotional depth that insinuates they’re not as different as they seem.
 

RatskyWatsky

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Oct 25, 2017
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I watched the first episode a couple of days ago. I thought it was well done. JK is obviously great, the supporting cast is strong (minor Manhattan reunion with Olivia Williams and Harry Lloyd!), and the set up is genuinely intriguing. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how things develop from here.

I've been looking forward to this since I saw the trailer in the January TV thread. People need to pay more attention to that thread and the ones in future months.

https://www.resetera.com/threads/tv-in-january-2018-what-are-you-watching.13347/
:)
 

Sirpopopop

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Oct 23, 2017
388
I thought the pilot was really good.

My favorite scene was the one in Howard Prime's apartment where him and the other Howard were talking about their lives, and how/why they turned out to be two fundamentally different people.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,895
I loathe comcast so much. Blocking themselves from every starz app just so they can push their on demand bullshit. it’s maddening and makes me not want to watch any shows on the network. My friend had an account with Optimum (a NY provider) that we watched American Gods on but they also! broke ties with starz and aren’t available anymore.

sucks
 

William

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
159
First episode was great! JK Simmons doing stellar work, can't wait to see where they take this.

The early renewal is a good sign too.
 

Captjohnboyd

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Oct 25, 2017
2,231
Such a great show so far. I'm about that Le'Carre intrigue anyway but the sci-fi angle and its ability to really examine the characters is really interesting so far. Of course JK killing it too
 

thediamondage

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Oct 25, 2017
3,393
Some really fantastic character actor work in the second episode, you could just see each of these characters being torn apart on screen slowly. "There will be a reckoning for what the other side did to us." Man, thats pretty harsh to want to take revenge on an entire universe for what happened to you in The Crying Game.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
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The second episode was really solid. I think I liked it more than the first. The Nadia/Baldwin story was working effective triple duty as an interesting plot in its own right, telling us about emotional and personal ramifications of the reality split, and providing us more about similar/different Howard 1 and 2 might be. The episonage elements were just right here too: not too enigmatic, while also laying more groundnwork. The subtle world building was compelling too.
 

Captjohnboyd

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Oct 25, 2017
2,231
The second episode was really solid. I think I liked it more than the first. The Nadia/Baldwin story was working effective triple duty as an interesting plot in its own right, telling us about emotional and personal ramifications of the reality split, and providing us more about similar/different Howard 1 and 2 might be. The episonage elements were just right here too: not too enigmatic, while also laying more groundnwork. The subtle world building was compelling too.
Great episode and I'm really excited to see how they flesh out the divergent character histories etc. Was kind of curious tho. The assassin girl was ten when her dad died and the split was like 30 years before right? She does NOT look a day over 30 if that even. Am I getting this wrong?
 

TripOpt55

Member
Oct 25, 2017
191
Didn't realize there was a thread for this. Loving it so far. I really dig alternate universe stuff like this (Fringe is my favorite show ever). It is really delivering the kind of things I like about that sort of fiction. With the spy-thriller stuff added on, it's just a damn cool show. Simmons is excellent in it. I loved the stuff with Nadia/Baldwin this week. Can't wait to see more.
 

phantomx

Banned
Oct 27, 2017
1,801
I thought the pilot was really good.

My favorite scene was the one in Howard Prime's apartment where him and the other Howard were talking about their lives, and how/why they turned out to be two fundamentally different people.
Fun fact: the scene in Howard’s apartment with both JK characters and Peter/Aldrich (~3 pages) took two entire days to film.

Dunno if this will be interesting to anyone, and it’s long...but here goes!

It was the first time the production really had to deal with both JK Simmons character’s in the same scene (often in the same shot). And it involves somewhat of a technical coreography to get camera placements and computer mapping in sync and on the same page.

We rehearsed the entire scene early in the morning with the actors (like normal)...then came the discussions and planning exactly how they were going to do this (and what they wanted to
determine as the special effects template for the rest of the series going forward when doing such scenes)

What they came up with was, in tandum with a computer, setting up a master shot of the apartment...a static first shot run-through of the entire scene looking at as much space as possible, and seeing all the actors during the scene.

[A typical scene in a room with 4 actors talking and moving around usually has the director/DP starting with a master shot...doing a bunch of takes that way...then moving the camera closer and closer inside the scene. So after the master shot you start setting up a camera to focus on just one actor the entire scene or two actors in the same shot if they are close enough, and the turning around to get the actors on the opposite side and sometimes POV shots of what each actor’s viewpoint is during the scene. For a detailed production like this was, we are talking about 7 setups (camera placements) often with 2-3 cameras going in each setup and always going trough the entire scene multiple times with each setup]

But this time, the master shot was linked to a computer in the back of the stage, with a special effects tech guy monitoring the entire scene and mapping out both the sound and the visuals.

The reason being, we needed to be able create a template with actors, so that when we start different setups with Jk Simmons as one character...we could time the dialogue an movements without the other jk Simmons character present.

So the first master shot template they decided to do was Jk as Howard...since his character was moving all around the scene interacting somewhat with everybody, laying down tea to each character etc. Once JK Simmons was no longer dressed and made up as Howard, all the actors, including Jk as Prime, had to act against no one...and only being cued about Howard’s lines and movements based on a playback of the original take...

Not only that, but each set up has to be locked down so the tech guys could run the scene without the actors in it as all...so that you would have all the templates you needed in post when you start doing special effects work to piece in both version of JK Simmon’s character without any conflicts or overlapping of actors and dialogue etc etc.

There are multiple ways to accomplish a dual character in the same shot by one actor special effect...but the production was looking for the best/most efficient way to approach this since this is something they will have to deal with in a show about multiples :p

The other issue to all this...how much does production want to push JK Simmons and make his life miserable for as many episodes and hours and days and months he is signed up to do this series? Do we stop production after every shot of Jk as Howard...and have him change over costume and makeup as Prime? To save time of doing both his characters while the camera is already in the spot? Or do we do a shot with JK as Howard..and proceed to do the other camera setups of the scene all with JK as Howard...and then have him change over to Prime and do all those camera setups again and go through the scenes and shots again with the different character?

What will Jk hate more...having to go back and forth each character after every shot? Not just the annoyance of a complete makeup wardrobe change, but having to change his acting approach back and forth so often? A scene like this meaning he’d be changing back and forth between characters about 8-10 times? Or will he hate the extra time needed to get precise camera mapping and doing the whole multi setup run through of the scene as just howard...acting against no one...and then doing it all over again fully as the other character?

Needless to say, a lot of handwringing about this :P (JK Simmons is an extremely nice and easy going guy btw, this wasn’t some diva eggshell thing...but JK is also an extremely no bullshit kind of guy too. If something seems like bullshit or unecessary or stupid to him, he will let you know lol) and I’ve worked on other series where the #1 actor who is just about in every scene...they get burnt the fuck out over the course of days/months years in general ..so you always have to protect the main talent somewhat and don’t abuse them.

Anyways...after all this...about 8 hours into the first day of this scene...the computer, the one hooked up to the cameras and mapping all the takes...just shuts down. We spend the next 2 straight hours doing nothing waiting to see if the thing turns back on and if it does, if all the info/data of the day was still there.

After 2 hours they say fuck it and start filming any parts of the scene they could the old fashion way...just to get anything on film that might be usable. The next day, they had gotten the system back up and running, but the data was lost which meant going back and redoing the initial footage shot the previous day.

It was really the first big trial by fire moment on the set...and the moment where you finally see how each crew member and actor and producer would handle any stressful situation going forward lol...but in the end, those major early hurdles did make for smoother sailing down the road for future scenes :D
 

Kalamour

Member
Oct 25, 2017
125
Fun fact: the scene in Howard’s apartment with both JK characters and Peter/Aldrich (~3 pages) took two entire days to film.
That is very interesting, feel free to keep the fun facts coming!

I am loving the show so far, it manages to feel unique, which is kind of a feat in our days of too much tv shows. The acting is, as expected, great, and I have no idea where this is going. It seems that nobody is talking (watching?) about this show. I know they already ordered 2 seasons and I hope it can build up an audience.
 

Juan29.Zapata

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Oct 25, 2017
1,664
Colombia
Finally watched both episodes. I gotta admit, I liked the first one more, the world-building felt better. Although seeing all these spies dealing with the fact that they have "copies" with just slight differences is very good. The Berlin setting is fantastic.

Great episode and I'm really excited to see how they flesh out the divergent character histories etc. Was kind of curious tho. The assassin girl was ten when her dad died and the split was like 30 years before right? She does NOT look a day over 30 if that even. Am I getting this wrong?
I was wondering just that, I swear I heard she was born in '94, which made me realize that was after the split. The series is set in 2018, right? I think I saw a document with a date in April of this year.