BODIES on Netflix is a genre-defying Crime Series from the UK. It’s based on the mind-bending graphic novel by Si Spencer. There are eight episodes in the mini-series, and I desperately hope we’ll get more seasons. Read our full Bodies series review here!
BODIES is a new Netflix series with a crime mystery plot and covering a whole lot of genres. From sci-fi, thriller, and crime to drama and history, this UK series is a genre-defying production and I absolutely loved it. For me, this is the best sci-fi mystery production since the German Netflix series Dark which I adored.
There are eight episodes in the season, and it’s actually labeled a “mini-series”, but I feel confident they can make a second season if it becomes popular enough. And it should. It really should. Also, the final episode of this series ends with a scene that leaves a window open for it to somehow continue. All eight episodes have been watched for this review – mostly because I could not stop watching it!
Continue reading our Bodies series review below. Find all eight episodes on Netflix on October 19, 2023.
How to explain the plot of Bodies
There are many ways to explain the plot of Bodies but the more specific you get, the more you risk spoiling it for yourself. I didn’t know too much about the new Netflix genre-bending series before watching it, and I’m happy about this.
I did however know the basics, so I’ll be sure to share that with you.
The plot of Bodies revolves around a body – the same body – which is found on Longharvest Lane in London’s East End in 1890, 1941, 2023, and 2053. The body is naked and it looks like he was shot in the head through his left eye. However, there is no exit wound and no bullet.
While we can all relate to the present-day world, it’s obvious that the three other points in time have also been chosen carefully.
- 1890 is during the Victorian era
- 1941 is during World War II and some of Britain’s darkest days
- 2053 is (of course) the future, but one dealing with the aftermath of a brutally fatal event in 2023
In each of the four time periods, one detective must investigate. Obviously, they have very different methods (and techniques available), but the circumstances for the body are the same. How is it possible that the same body appears in the same location across four different time periods spanning 150 years?
That’s what we need to find out along with the detectives. And, trust me, they also have a lot of things working against them. Including a cult-like element that seems to always know what will happen next. Julian Harker is at the center of the stories before our time, while an enigmatic political leader (Stephen Graham) is central to the events in the future.
In present day 2023, a young boy named Elias seems to also be playing a part, but it would appear he isn’t acting of his own accord.
Is Bodies based on a comic book?
The new Netflix series Bodies is based on the DC Comics graphic novel of the same name by Si Spencer. I haven’t checked it out because I never knew it existed before watching this series. However, having watched the series and loved it, I read up on it. Apparently, each of the four time periods was illustrated by a different illustrator. So four people set the visual stage for Si Spencer’s story.
It’s absolutely brilliant, and definitely something that transitions to this series adaption of the graphic novel. Each of the four time periods has a very unique look and feel. Obviously, they represent four very different times, so despite being in the exact same area of London, there’s a unique vibe to each.
This also goes for the characters, who work brilliantly in this story. Each of the four main characters in their respective time periods has something that makes them outsiders of some sort. Also, the four are very different, which again serves the story as nothing feels even the slightest repetitive.
The cast of Bodies
As the present-day detective, Shahara Hasan, we see Amaka Okafor (Des, Greatest Days). For me, Amaka Okafor is so perfectly cast as Detective Hasan. The character is as dedicated as she can be impulsive, but she knows right from wrong and never falters when it counts.
In 1941, we meet Charles Whiteman as the detective of that time period. His given name is actually Karl Weissman, which some of his very white colleagues like to remind him of. Remember, this was during WWII. Detective Whiteman is much more of a dubious type, but it tends to be in the name of survival. Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (The Power, The Queen’s Gambit) portrays him perfectly and looks the part as a suave and elegant man.
Going back to 1890, we find Detective Alfred Hillinghead who does everything by the book. He is honest and dedicated to both his job and his family. The latter consists of his wife and daughter. Kyle Soller (Andor, Marrowbone) plays Alfred Hillinghead with so much heart and passion. It was a pleasure to watch.
Moving into the future, we meet Detective Iris Maplewood played by Shira Haas (Unorthodox). She’s savvy and brave, but also dependent on the world she has chosen. In 2053, the UK lives by a creed known as KYAL, and if you’re not a part of this, you’re on the outside of the world. But always welcome to join, of course, as KYAL is short for “Know You Are Loved”. A sentence you will hear many times.
Stephen Graham (The Irishman, Boardwalk Empire) plays a character that you’ll become acquainted with in many ways. And that’s all I’ll say about that. And yes, Stephen Graham delivers a powerhouse performance.
Finally, as the body that is discovered in four different time periods, we see Tom Mothersdale (Overlord, Peaky Blinders). Yes, we also get to know him, and his name is Gabriel Defoe. He is a leader in quantum gravity theory – aka time travel – which should come as no surprise since his body keeps showing up in all kinds of time periods.
The “how” and “why” of it all, is the crime mystery of the Bodies Netflix series.
Just two quick issues
It’s rare that I only have two things in a series that were issues for me, so I feel like I do have to mention it. Both have to do with casting and neither has to do with the talent of the actors.
Still, I do have to mention that the casting of Amy Manson (The Nevers) and Synnove Karlsen (Last Night in SoHo) as mother and daughter respectively (of 1891 Detective Hillinghead) is distracting. There are only around 11 years between the two and they do look more like sisters. Both deliver strong performances, but in their scenes together as mother and daughter, it feels strange.
I really love Synnove Karlsen in this role, but it did distract me whenever she was in scenes with her “parents”. Fortunately, she has a lot more to work with than just these two actors.
The other issue is that Gabriel Howell clearly doesn’t have blue eyes and is wearing blue contacts. It completely messes with his eyes as the pupils always look the exact same and the color is off. I can’t imagine this was the best solution. I mean, we’ve seen eye colors change in many movies with better results.
Again, it’s just something that distracts and it’s a damn shame because Gabriel Howell delivers a breathtaking performance in several scenes.
Watch the Bodies series on Netflix
The new Netflix series was created by Paul Tomalin and is based on the graphic novel by Si Spencer. Previously, Paul Tomalin has written episodes of the Torchwood and The Frankenstein Chronicles series. Danusia Samal (Gangs of London) also took part in writing the episodes while the directors of the eight episodes are Marco Kreuzpaintner (The Lazarus Project) and Haolu Wang (Doctor Who).
The genre-bending and genre-defying series combines sci-fi, murder mystery, and period drama. I absolutely loved this series and could not finish watching it fast enough. I just had to get to the bottom of everything and despite Paul Tomalin also describing this series as “mind-snapping” (which it is!), there are answers given in the end.
Bodies is officially a limited series, but I really hope we’ll be getting a second season. In fact, I’m trying to manifest this into being, so I’m starting and ending this review by mentioning it. Check out this new genre-hybrid of a series and enjoy all the mindf*ckery of it. Also, put your phone away. You will need to stay alert to keep up with this one!
All eight episodes of Bodies are out on Netflix from October 19, 2023.
Creator: Paul Tomalin
Based on: “Bodies” by Si Spencer
Directors: Marco Kreuzpaintner, Haolu Wang
Writers: Paul Tomalin & Danusia Samal
Cast: Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Shira Haas, Amaka Okafor, Kyle Soller, Stephen Graham, Greta Scacchi, Synnove Karlsen, Gabriel Howell, Tom Mothersdale, George Parker, Michael Jibson, Chloe Raphael
Four detectives, living in four different eras – 1890, 1941, 2023 & 2053 – find the body of the same murder victim in London’s Whitechapel. They soon come to realize their investigations have them central to a mysterious conspiracy spanning over 150 years.