Hulu aims to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime with original content. Its newest series, Dimension 404, premieres today. Dimension 404 is a six episode science fiction anthology. Each episode contains a new story unrelated to the others. Here is our early access non-spoiler review ahead of tomorrow’s release:
The science fiction anthology format begs comparisons with The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. However, to fully explain Dimension 404, one must travel in time to 1996. Serious horror stories were read by millions of children. The most popular series were Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. In a more humorous vein was the series, Bone Chillers. In this analogy, Twilight Zone would be the Alvin Schwartz books, Black Mirror would be the R.L. Stine series and Dimension 404 would be the Betsey Haynes series. It’s much more playful and it excels when it doesn’t try to be serious. The best moments are when it borders on cheesy and almost unbelievable like a Rooster Teeth sketch or something by Freddie Wong, who’s an Executive Producer as well as directing. Dimension 404 was created by his frequent collaborators Des Dolly, Will Campos, David Welch along with Dan Johnson.
References to the 1990s are spread throughout Dimension 404. Inmates are subject to a soupy Tubby Custard, Captain Planet characters show up in a different animated series and a character suggests listening to the Wayne’s World soundtrack. This series is definitely aimed towards the Millennials and Generation X including an episode all about tackling the differences between the two. Patton Oswalt is a member of Generation X while Sarah Hyland portrays a Millennial. Among the other famous names showing up during the six episodes are Kenneth Choi, Megan Mullally, Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale, Lea Michele, and Constance Wu while the omniscient narrator is Mark Hamill. The first episode, “Matchmaker”, suffers from weaker acting and direction but the series improves from there especially once the viewer knows more about what to expect.
Dimension 404 is a fun series with a lot of potential, like the season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you enjoy programs like Video Game High School or was one of those kids watching Bone Chillers 20 years ago, why not give it a shot? Despite the comical, almost cheesy exterior, the episodes do contain important questions about our society that stay long after the credits.
Warning: Episode Three, “Cinethrax“, should have a warning about strobe lighting in one scene and is not recommended for those with Photosensitive Epilepsy and other conditions sensitive to that lighting.