- Created by Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar
- November 17, 2022
- Maura Henriette Franklin/Singleton-Emily Beecham
- Daniel Solace-Aneurin Barnard
- Eyk Larsen-Andreas Pietschmann
- Ángel-Miguel Bernardeau
- Ramiro-José Pimentão
- Ling Yi-Isabella Wei
- Yuk Je-Gabby Wong
- Jérôme-Yann Gael
- Clémence-Mathilde Ollivier
- Lucien-Jonas Bloquet
- Virginia Wilson-Rosalie Craig
- Olek-Maciej Musiał
- Tove-Clara Rosager
- Krester-Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen
- Iben-Maria Erwolter
- Anker-Alexandre Willaume
- Sebastian-Tino Mewes
- Franz-Isaak Dentler
- Elliot, a.k.a. “the boy”-Fflyn Edwards
- Henry Singleton-Anton Lesser
- Ada-Vida Sjørslev
- Landon-Alexander Owen
- Darrel-Ben Ashenden
- Dr. Reginald Murray-Richard Hope
- Eugen-Joshua Jaco Seelenbinder
- Wilhelm-Niklas Maienschein
- Einar-Jónas Alfreð Birkisson
- Bente-Heidi Toini
- Nina Larsen-Cloé Heinrich
- Sara Larsen-Alexandra Gottschlich
- Mei Mei-Kaja Chan
- Villads-Martin Greis
The lives of a group of European emigrants travelling from London to New York on the steamship Kerberos intersect with an oceanic mystery.
I heard plenty of plenty of people raving about 1899 and I figured I would give it a look one evening. A strange mystery story set on a boat in the year 1899? Color me intrigued. Avoiding a present day setting and instead going to the past promised in my mind something interesting.
Was I ever misled. In full disclosure I didn’t make it through the whole series because before the final episode I was bored to tears. I am not sure why people are appraising this show beyond the use of practical sets. That’s definitely worth noting as they avoided CGI whenever possible.
The pacing in 1899 is rather slow. The story as a whole is a very stretched out plot for what is essentially a two hour presentation. A sea going mystery involving a mute boy (Fflyn Edwards) with soap opera elements is much more in the mold of Poseidon Adventure than it is a television series. And it just stretches those bits out bringing the narrative to a crawl. Any advancement in what one would think is the main story is an afterthought in comparison to the drama of the individual characters.
We have religious Danes, stowaways, a tormented captain, a female doctor on a search, a newly married Parisian couple, mysterious Chinese passengers, and just a generally mysterious passenger among others. Their assorted paths cross or intersect more often than not in a manner similar to a soapy melodrama.
And that connects to its main issue. 1899’s main issue is that while it promises a mystery it is actually about a bunch of terrible people or just people trying to flee their own demons with the mystery often being secondary. It would be one thing if the show was about those terrible people and there was no mystery to be explored but this is billed as a series about a mystery.
You can turn on any number of shows and find them populated with horrible examples of humanity or just severely damaged people who should seek the best possible therapy available to them. We find plenty of those here in 1899. In that it is no different than dozens of other shows on Netflix or any other streaming service.
And truth be told I just didn’t care about any of the characters. Maybe it was how they were written as they seemed shallow and self-absorbed and just generally bad examples of humanity. Or maybe it was the acting as none of them came off as concerned about their situation or what was going on. I’m not sure if there was any dubbing done here (this is a German production) which would then still point to the actors behind the dubbing.
And some of their actions seemed confusing to me such as those of the couple traveling as brothers. It was clearly a dysfunctional relationship but apparently the kink in the whole relationship is that Ramiro (José Pimentão), a faux Portuguese priest, and wealthy Spaniard Ángel (Miguel Bernardeau) got turned on by being emotionally abused by his lover. The progression of events in their sex scene just didn’t flow logically. It was as if the writers felt they needed a sex scene and shoehorned it in.
There are plenty of elements here to make this something special. An isolated setting with no hope of immediate aid. A captain that goes against orders to figure out what’s going on. A woman with a missing brother. And the mysteries of the high seas. All plenty of elements for something special that is quickly converted into a series where people are ruled by their demons and hiding their secret agendas when being a little more honest and open would make things go so much better. And nobody ever comes to the realization that they are the problem which would be an example of real character growth.
Visually it looks great but then again they used practical sets and is near as I can tell the only CGI came with the wide shots of the boats. It gives this show a level of authenticity that can pull you in. The costume is not bad but a bit on the generic side.
I went in really wanting to like 1899 but instead I couldn’t finish it because it was just so disappointing and boring. While it may have counted as a success for Netflix there is very little here to maintain interest so it is no surprise it got canceled.