Amazon Prime and the producers of Bojack Horseman want to take you on a little trip.
The streamer released the first brief teaser trailer for its original sci-fi animated series Undone to its YouTube channel today, and from its brain-bending premise to its retro animation style, it looks intriguing as all get-out.
The series stars Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) as a woman whose ho-hum existence takes a turn for the extremely weird after she’s nearly killed in a car accident. Here’s the official synopsis, via Deadline: “Alma Winograd-Diaz takes her mundane life one day at a time until a near-fatal accident induces visions of her late father, Jacob. Through these persistent visions he urges her to tap into a mysterious ability that allows her to travel through space and time with the hopes of preventing his untimely death. This quest challenges Alma’s relationships and brings into question her mental well-being with those closest to her.”
The spot gives us a series of extremely provocative images soundtracked by a conversation between Alma and her late father, who is portrayed by Bob Odenkirk of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame. As it opens, Alma is seen drifting through space, as her father’s voiceover intones, “Alma, you remember what you said about silence the first time you heard it?” She answers, “I didn’t know it sounded so alive.”
We then see Alma behind the wheel of her car as her father materializes out of nowhere by the roadside. “Some people’s minds are more… capable,” his narration explains. “They can see more, they can feel more, they can know… more. What you have is precious. We need to carefully develop your potential.” As he speaks, we’re presented with a series of images that, frankly, you just kind of have to see to believe.
“Am I losing my mind, Dad?” Alma asks in voiceover, and then we see her father as he (sort of) reassures her: “No, no… well, yes, and… and no.” The spot closes on Alma and a mysterious female figure in the middle of the street as reality seems to collapse around them, followed by an ominous shot of Alma emerging from this swirling morass and falling onto what appears to be a gurney. Cut to title card.
The animation style on display here is a great fit with the material. In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s known as rotoscoping, and it’s been done in one form or another for over a century. It was developed by the legendary Polish animator Max Fleischer, who is responsible for bringing to the screen such iconic figures as Betty Boop and Popeye, and it involves tracing over live footage, resulting in a disorientingly lifelike appearance.
There was a resurgence in the technique’s usage in the ’70s, notably in the works of Ralph Bakshi (such as the 1977 feature Wizards and the 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings), but it has fallen out of favor during the age of computer animation. Perhaps the last significant mainstream use of the technique was in the 2006 feature A Scanner Darkly, adapted from a novel by Philip K. Dick, whose works line up well thematically with Undone. The same animation house behind that film, Minnow Mountain, worked on the series, according to Deadline’s report.
As if this weren’t enough to get you on board, Undone was masterminded by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, the creator of the excellent Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman, and Kate Purdy, who has worked as a producer on that show since its inception. Famed Dutch artist Hisko Hulting is overseeing the series’ production design; in a statement, Waksberg alluded to the fact that the rotoscoping technique has never before been done in service of an episodic television series. “Hisko’s beautiful artwork and masterful use of light and color will create a look never seen before on a television show,” he said, adding that the finished product “will make audiences lose their minds.” (via The Mary Sue)
Amazon’s Head of Scripted Series Sharon Yguado expressed her excitement in a brief statement which happened to let us know that we can expect to see Undone drop on the streamer sooner rather than later. “Kate and Raphael are dynamic and creative forces,” she said, “and I know they will create an amazing series for us. I can’t wait for our customers to see it in 2019.”
All we have to add is: oh, heck yeah. We absolutely cannot wait. We’ve previously expressed our opinion that Bojack Horseman is one of the best shows on television right now — if not the best — and Waksberg and Purdy appear to have come up with an amazingly original concept that will make us question everything we know about, like, the entire nature of reality (we can’t get enough of that kind of thing).
The series also stars Angelique Cabral (Life in Pieces), Constance Marie (Law & Order True Crime), Siddarth Dhananjay (the forthcoming comic adaptation Bloodshot), Daveed Diggs (Velvet Buzzsaw), John Corbett (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love), Sheila Vand (Tuca & Bertie), and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf). We’ll keep our eyes peeled for a firm release date, and keep you informed.