The Fear Of Your Own Face: “AIDAN 5”

Copyright © 2009 by Room 101 Productions

In real life, cloning is a controversial issue with regard to the value of artificial life and what right we do or don’t have to create and use organisms as we see fit.  Most of science fiction tends to skip over these issues in favor of using clones as plot devices, but some stories do go back to the controversy of real-life cloning.  Karen Traviss raised such points about the nature of clone troopers in her Star Wars novels and the creative talent at Room 101 Productions is doing the same with their original web series, AIDAN 5.

The Story: Hunting Down A Man Who Shares Your Face

In the future, Detective James Aidan is one of many human beings who has cloned himself many times over thanks to the technology and services of the Infinity Corporation.  However, someone has been killing his clones in particular and the culprit appears to be one of his own replicas.  Aidan and his partner Morgan investigate his whereabouts, which brings him face-to-face with a conspiracy involving the Infinity Corporation and the whole debate surrounding clones.

The Cast: It’s Not Exactly A One-Man Show

James Aidan is your typical noir detective.  He’s cast in the same mold as Deckard from Blade Runner or Sam Spade: gruff, stoic, and determined to find the truth.  He even monologues over the action in each episode.  But it’s an interesting bit for his actor Bryan Michael Block, who gets to give a few different performances as Aidan’s various clones.  We see more of who Aidan could have been through them.

His partner is Morgan Reilly, a fairly sharp policewoman who is later revealed to be a clone herself.  To the show’s credit, nothing is said about whether she’s the original or not until she comes face-to-face with the original’s corpse, so it goes a long way toward a portrayal of clones as human beings rather than meat puppets with the same DNA.

The supporting cast is, for the most part, pretty standard.  You’ve got the stern police captain who’s always astonished at the main character’s behavior, the sleazy businessman, the even sleazier politician, and the menacing man in the shadows who puts people in danger just before slipping away once again.

The Style: Film Noir On A Budget

The visual aesthetic makes it distinctive in a very interesting way.  While the actors are working with a green screen, the background is actually hand-drawn in a very sketchy way.  It’s a bit disorienting to see fully real actors on a fairly unreal backdrop.  On the one hand, it does bring the acting to the fore, but on the other, it can be distracting during long shots.  It does help that the whole thing is shot in black and white (another film noir trademark), so the actors aren’t entirely out of sync with their environment.

Final Verdict: It Is Itself A Clone Of Other Stories

I found the idea for this show intriguing, but after watching the first few episodes, I was quickly getting bored with it.  Despite the idea, the execution just came off as a bit bland.  The monologues and the standard cyberpunk plot aren’t much for me to sink my teeth into.  It rather does feel like Blade Runner all over again.  It’s not bad in that regard, but it’s not inspiring either.

AIDAN 5 is available on its own website and on Blip.tv.

Bibliography: AIDAN 5.  Directed by John Jackson.  Produced by John Jackson, Ben Bays, and Shawn Likley.  Written by Vidas Barzukas, Ben Bays, and Tim Baldwin.  Perf. Bryan Michael Block, Maya Sayre, and John Michael Stubbins.   Room 101 Productions, 2009 – present.

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