Para//èles (Disney+)

I watched Parallèles / Parallels, which – if you squint and turn your head into the upside down – is a kind of French language Stranger Things. It’s not very long, coming in at just six shortish episodes. The final episode is around 42 minutes, and the rest come in between 34 and 39 minutes.

The basic premise is that four teenagers head off to some kind of abandoned bunker for an illicit party. Three boys and one girl. There are tensions: two of the boys fancy the girl; one boy is a younger sibling who is threatened with boarding school.

Meanwhile one boy’s mother, a physicist, is about to push a button on a kind of squint-and-turn-your-head Large Hadron Collider. And then the lights go out and suddenly the four teens are split into different versions of themselves. The younger boy and girl disappear in one universe and find themselves alone in another. The birthday boy has been replaced by a man in his 30s.

So it’s a little bit parallel universes and a little bit time travel. There are also some unexplained superpowers. It’s actually not bad, in the absence of other options. I like that they used different actors for the teens at different ages rather than trying to age them down or up. A lot of good decisions went into this. What I especially liked about it was that it was clearly made to be no longer than it needed to be. So it’s fast paced with no flab, and no 2-3 episode dip while they string it out to make it 8 or 10 episodes.

When I first turned it on it was a badly dubbed English soundtrack, and I tried a couple of other languages before discovering it was supposed to be in French. I recommend you watch it in VO (version originale) with subtitles.

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