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We Are Not Alone review — Roku Original is a Delightful Sci-Fi Comedy Series

The Office on the dark side of the universe.

We Are Not Alone, a new Roku Original, debuts on January 27 on The Roku Channel and it is a perfect sitcom: not one moment is wasted; solid casting; high production value for a sitcom; engaging story; solid humor; characters jump right in. In my previous post, I discussed what content like this can mean for Roku’s future. In this follow-up post, I share a few observations from viewing an advanced release.

Beam me up or down?

This is funny, very funny. And then you add that X-factor of British humor (Terry Pratchett to Monty Python to Douglas Adams) and it works. Through that lens, the view is looking at one strange world from another strange world’s perspective. On the other hand, that lens can emphasize the universal. Here’s a story of Stewart (Declan Baxter), who doesn’t want to grow up and go into middle management. Anyone can relate to that, right? Life’s too short because – zap! – you never know when a creature from another world will off you.

Sorry, but she might not be available.

Stewart pines after Elodie (Georgia May Foote), the owner  of the local pub, and just wants to be left alone by the rest of the world. But that’s not gonna happen. There’s a whole new thing going on. Earth is “under new management.” Aliens from outer space have taken over and, while they might seem to be bumblers, they can also be cutthroat killers. Stewart gets on board, as a special consultant to the aliens. He really has no choice. This comedy follows Stewart as he runs back and forth looking for a way out. It’s all very weird and adds up to decent science fiction, with a generous helping of droll British humor. You can view the results starting on Friday, January 27, free on The Roku Channel.

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Roku Original Sci-Fi Comedy: WE ARE NOT ALONE

Maybe, like me, you are a Roku person. And maybe you noticed this new offering, a sci-fi comedy, We Are Not Alone. I’m intrigued. I’m intrigued on two main tracks: first, I genuinely think I’ll like watching this; next, I have a feeling this could be one of those turning points, seemingly modest, that proves there’s still some gas in the tank for Roku, which is still struggling to be known as a leader in providing content, beyond its original purpose of making streaming devices. A weird and wacky show like this, a mashup of Alf and The Office, is another easy test run leading up to Roku’s own Puffy Chair climb out of relative obscurity as an emerging content maker, much as it was for Netflix.

We Are Not Alone
Picture shows: Joe Thomas as Greggs, Declan Baxter as Stewart, Mike Wozniak as Gordan

Come on, you remember The Puffy Chair, don’t you? This was way back in 2005, but still. It was, correct me if I’m wrong, the first foray into original content for Netflix. Well, I’m technically wrong. Netflix only bought that film, but that was a significant sign that Netflix was on the right track in its transformation. My point is that Roku needs something, like The Puffy Chair, that it can call its own: uneven, strange, and definitely quirky, right in step with all the mumblecore comedy of that era, just as the Duplass brothers were beginning to be taken seriously. This is simply another test run moment for Roku since this is not an original show directly created by Roku. This is like PBS, back in the day, importing the latest strange British comedy. Not a great feat in and of itself, right? Well, it’s not exactly a small feat for Roku either. It is a step in the right direction and it is a gem of a show as this review from Den of Geek can attest.

At some point, Roku will do something bigger, like produce it’s own version of a top-rated show. Roku just needs to keep pushing itself and asking that question, If not now, then when? What is at stake is Roku making good on its promise of breaking out beyond being a company that provides devices to stream content to becoming a leader in content. It even took Apple a while to establish itself in that content making department. I’m rooting for Roku!

Vicki Pepperdine as Trater

We Are Not Alone is, as the press kit states: “set six weeks after the Gu’un aliens have invaded and completely conquered Earth. We Are Not Alone explores the culture clash between humankind and its new masters, who are trying to make sense of a planet so confusing and idiotic that its inhabitants can’t even agree which side of the road to drive on.”

Ben Willbond as Darrenth, Larry Rickard as Cirsh

So, yeah, I recommend that you check it out. I know that all of us Roku followers keep waiting for some worthwhile free content and this is a good-sized bone, maybe even more, as this comedy comes with some credentials, originally from UKTV’s award-winning entertainment channel, Dave. For those of you on the other side of the pond, I’d love to get your take on this! All in all, I have a good feeling about it. Roku will premiere this show as a Roku Original, which debuts this Friday, January 27th on, you guessed it, The Roku Channel.

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