Command Z

Command Z

A slight-seeming but nonetheless entertaining and well-meaning web series from Steven Soderbergh

6.8

TV Show

United States of America
English
Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
2023
Alexandra Socha, Ben Livingston, Catherine Curtin

TLDR

Good luck getting the theme from Mahogany out of your head after this.

What it's about

In 2053, a billionaire and three of his employees use a wormhole to journey back to 2023 and try to prevent an oncoming catastrophe.

The take

Steven Soderbergh’s second TV show of 2023 — which was only announced a few days before its release — is a hopeful dystopian one. Command Z, which comprises eight short episodes totaling 90 minutes, is so named for Apple’s “undo” shortcut because that’s exactly the purpose of the show’s time-travel mission. In 2053, a tech billionaire (Michael Cera) who uploaded his consciousness to the cloud before dying on his way to Mars recruits three employees to make a few tweaks in the past to divert Earth off the course that led it to its nightmarish current state. The idea is that, by implanting themselves in the minds of those nearest to potential change-makers — like the daughter of a Big Oil CEO or a politician’s aide — they can convince their targets to take action and prevent the city-high sea levels and Hazmat-requiring pollution of 2053.

Though frequently humorous in its satirical vision of the future, Command Z doesn’t mess around, virtually breaking the fourth wall at every opportunity to prod us to do something. If the tone isn’t quite as polished as it could be — or if the production value sometimes feels slapdash — it’s all befitting of the urgency of the message it’s begging us to heed before it’s too late.

Command Z is available to stream here for a one-time fee of $7.99 that is donated in full to Children's Aid and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research.

What stands out

Alongside Cera, JJ Maley, and co-writers Roy Wood Jr. and Chloe Radcliffe (who play the three time-travelers), Command Z features a brilliant eclectic cast that includes Liev Schreiber, Zoe Winters (of Succession Kerry fame), and even TikTok comedian Sabrina Brier. Also livening up the show are the tongue-in-cheek end credits, which begin by listing further watching material on the topics covered in each episode: while Soderbergh is sure to recommend us classics like Soylent Green and The Ten Commandments, he also throws in shout-outs to Ice Age: The Meltdown and Hotel for Dogs. That ought to give you an idea of Command Z’s never-too-dark tone.

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