Amazon Prime is currently in pilot season, and they want us the audience to rate up their offerings in order get full series’ made. One of the pilots is a sci-fi called, Oasis. Based on Dutch author, Peter Faber’s 2014 novel, The Book of Strange Things – Oasis follows the similar premise of Peter Leigh who is a pastor sent to recently discovered planet Oasis, to teach the word of Christianity to the workers developing the land for future human inhabitance.
Oasis’ scene is set with London 2032 in a state of emergency. Looking like a post war torn country, the UK borders are under threat. Migrant camps are overspilling, homelessness is rife with families taking up refuge under flyovers and government approved solutions of solace and escapism being offered is death by Euthanasia.
We meet Peter Leigh (Richard Madden – Game of Thrones) as he visits his dying wife. He later gets a message from a David Morgan who mysteriously says he’s needed on Oasis, the planet where a multinational company in an attempt to save humanity is preparing it to become the first off Earth human colony. Agreeing to go, the pastor joins a new team of vetted Oasis workers who have been recruited through more normal channels.
Once he arrives on Oasis, it doesn’t take long for Pastor Leigh to realise things aren’t quite what they seem. He also can’t seem to find the man who told him to come there in the first place. The crew working on the planet soon reveal to him that life on Oasis, absolutely contrasts its name. Michael James Shaw (Roots, Limitless) plays, a very disgruntled B.G. who is the first to let slip to the pastor that the crew are being affected by hallucinations, headaches and random nosebleeds. B.G. himself is being haunted by visions of his dead father. There have also been three unexplained deaths.
As the pilot episode is establishing itself, we are introduced to key characters; Zawe Ashton is Severin, the Oasis medic. We meet her as she runs through protocol health procedures on the new Oasis inhabitants. She’s obviously got a back story and she’s witness probably to the spate of deaths and accidents that have happened, so we should assume she’ll be affected in some way. She also has a connection to B.G, but there’s also moment of connection with Pastor Leigh. Not sure of Severin’s intention here, but Ashton does a good job pulling off the mysterious authoritarian.
Alicia Reyes (Maureen Sebastian – American Gothic) similarly to B.G. Reyes is pissed off with how things are turning for the worse on Oasis. She appears to be seeking an ally and may see pastor Leigh as someone she can trust.
Mission commander Vikram Danesh (Anil Kapoor – Slumdog Millionaire) is obviously hiding something and seems overly interested or confused as to why Morgan thought Oasis needed a pastor. Kapoor is also hunting for the recently missing Morgan. We can’t yet tell if he’s a goodie or a baddie…
Antje Traue (Close to the Enemy) as Grainger also has a mysteriousness to her. She appears to be Vikram’s right hand in hierarchy, she’s involved in the hunt for Morgan, and seems to share the same hidden concerns as Vikram but she too is hallucinating.
Overall, Oasis sits well in the one-hour series slot. I could imagine myself binge-watching the first season. The visuals are clean and engaging. Filmed in Namibia, South Africa the location scenes of the ‘planet’ are beautiful. It’s an easy watch; a little predictable at times, but in fairness there’s not much you can do with a sci-fi like this except set up the twists and turns so we’re excited to see what happens in the series. Making it too abstract or confusing at this point would only be frustrating. My expectation is that things get less predictable and more not-seen-before. I do however, hope that we don’t get taken on too much of a mystical journey. It’s not clear if the hallucinations the Oasis crew are experiencing are happening because of the planet, the drugs the crew need to take to survive off Earth, or something else.
Oasis is the first British drama to be fully financed by Amazon (previous productions have been co-produced), so if it goes to series it will be quite “monumental”, said Lila Rawlings of Leftbank Film Productions.
To watch Oasis and cast your vote go to Amazon Prime’s free to watch Pilot Season page here.